If you read anything in risk and safety that uses the word ‘learning’ make sure the book or presentation defines what learning is or, what learning theory (methodology) is the foundation of their view. If you read a safety book on learning most of the time the book is NOT about learning, it’s about training or schooling. Usually, the content will be about data in and data out, regurgitation of data is NOT learning. Similarly, if one is discussing the nature of collective learning or learning teams. Just ask some simple questions:
- How is learning defined?
- What is the nature of personhood contained in the presentation?
- Is the presentation brain- centric or collective brain-centric?
- Is the piece focused on content transfer or content knowledge?
- Is epistemology (theory of knowing) discussed?
- (BTW, there is no such discussion in the AIHS BoK on Epistemology)
- Are theories of learning discussed and positioned?
- Is the use of the word ‘mind’ translated as ‘brain’?
- Does the piece speak of personhood or the educated person?
- Is there any discussion of the e-motions?
- Is there any discussion of the unconscious in learning?
- Is there any discussion of the language, semiotics, semantics of learning?
- Or Triple Loop learning (https://safetyrisk.net/culture-silences-in-safety-language/)?
- Is there any discussion of embodiment, the meaning of the body?
If these are NOT a part of the book or presentation then you know that the piece/presentation is NOT about learning but about training/schooling. Furthermore, if the presentation or book is written by Safety then you know it’s just a bout behaviourism, in and out.
There is a group of us studying the nature of learning and SPoR at the moment (online) and this group was spontaneously created by our friends in Brazil, some of whom have quit their safety jobs just to do SPoR (lucky Brazil). These are the same people who translated For the Love of Zero (https://mailchi.mp/c780a1e2b697/por-amor-ao-zero ) into Portuguese (for free download).
Most of the people studying this module come to the challenges of learning from a background in safety, that knows precious little about learning. How interesting that one of the great educators in the last 100 years is a Brazilian, Paulo Freire.
Freire (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paulo_Freire) should be bread and butter reading for every safety person. His book Pedagogy of the Oppressed was foundational reading in my first Education degree (https://envs.ucsc.edu/internships/internship-readings/freire-pedagogy-of-the-oppressed.pdf).
In that book, Freire equates schooling/training to ‘banking’, deposits in, withdrawals out.
His books are an excellent introduction to the nature of education and learning:
The fact that Freire comes from Brazil and NOT a Western European source gives a wonderful insight into how mis-education and compulsory-miseducation is NOT about learning.
At the same time as I was reading Freire I was also cutting my teeth on Illich (https://monoskop.org/images/1/17/Illich_Ivan_Deschooling_Society.pdf; https://download.tuxfamily.org/openmathdep/history/Celebration_of_Awareness-Illich.pdf), Goodman (https://arvindguptatoys.com/arvindgupta/goodman.pdf) Dewey (https://www.researchgate.net/publication/314967156_John_Dewey_and_His_Philosophy_of_Education), R.S. Peters (https://dl.icdst.org/pdfs/files1/b45164aa52b5135665278409c74f0353.pdf; https://archive.org/details/ethicseducation0000pete_s1g4) and Bruner (http://edci770.pbworks.com/w/file/fetch/45494576/Bruner_Processes_of_Education.pdf).
I discuss these educator-researchers in learning in my book: Tackling Risk, A Field Guide to Risk and Learning.
I find it so amusing when I hear Safety wonder why people don’t learn, why an induction doesn’t work, why training doesn’t work and why workers don’t learn about safety and then at the same time, have no interest in the nature of learning. It is just assumed that learning is about ‘in and out’. It is assumed that learning is ‘content in, content out’, as if there is some connection between what the Mind (the whole person) receives and what behaviour results. Comprehending data, cognitivism and regurgitation are NOT learning.
We cover so much of this in our free module we are doing at the moment (https://cllr.com.au/product/learning-community-and-the-social-psychology-of-risk-unit-7/). We are way over subscribed and this module will not be offered for free for some time.
Learning about learning should be the foundation for any safety qualification coupled to an ethic of risk. Sadly, Safety has no interest in either.
Indeed, when we think about how Safety should operate in the world it could be mapped as follows (See Figure 1. Embodied Learning in Risk in The World).
Figure 1. Embodied Learning in Risk in The World
Each part of this map is essential to learning. If learning is NOT socially embodied then it is NOT learning. This is why computers and machines don’t ‘learn’. Machines have no body or e-motions and both are essential to learning. Unless there is e-motion (motivation to move) there is no learning, just regurgitation of data.
Look at the map and consider how much of this receives no mention in safety. No wonder Safety has little clue about how people learn and why people don’t learn. Indeed, without this understanding, blaming for not learning becomes the safety-sport for the uneducated and non-discerning. This is why much of what wastes the time of Safety on paperwork (https://vimeo.com/162034157) maintains the delusion that paperwork it is somehow connected to learning, when it is not.
It is simply breathtaking how little Safety engages in visual-verbal learning in its methodology. There is simply no interest in semiotics or how visual-verbal learning works. This is because the fixation of safety on measurement (https://safetyrisk.net/the-seduction-of-measurement-in-risk-and-safety/ ) draws it away from how people learn. ‘What counts, can’t be counted.’
However, in SPoR, everything we do is founded on a sound methodology of learning and education and, visual-verbal-semiotic learning is foundational to SPoR Methods that Work! (https://www.humandymensions.com/product/it-works-a-new-approach-to-risk-and-safety/ )
If you are interested in learning more about learning and SPoR then you can register to join in the following workshops:
- In Vienna from 26-30 June (https://safetyrisk.net/workshops-with-dr-long-vienna-austria-26-30-june-2023/) and
- Canberra 18-21 September 2023 (https://spor.com.au/september-canberra-workshop/).
These workshops will help you move away from: the engineering/behaviourism/positivism approach to safety, identifying with Safety and the myth of objectivity and, discover methods that actually work to humanise learning in risk (https://www.humandymensions.com/product/it-works-a-new-approach-to-risk-and-safety/).