Learning, Leaning and Learning in Safety
Methodology (worldview/philosophy) drives method. Method reveals methodology. Methodology and method are NOT the same thing.
It matters what methodology one assumes about learning because this determines the expected outcomes of a method. Yet, in risk and safety the idea of learning is thrown about as if is: objective, neutral and singular. Nothing could be further that the truth. Understanding learning is a wicked problem, similarly to understanding the many paradoxes of risk.
When teachers enter their profession, and commence their first year of studies they are met with a maze of philosophies about learning, each represented by different understandings of: personhood, cognition, psychology of learning, agency, language, discourse, view of culture, focus and proposed solutions. I have previously mapped similar complexities in understanding Schools of Risk and Safety (https://safetyrisk.net/a-great-comparison-of-risk-and-safety-schools-of-thought/) and Schools of Ethics (https://safetyrisk.net/tackling-ethics-in-risk-a-philosophical-challenge/).
It is naïve in the extreme to think that risk, safety, ethics or learning are simplistic, black and white, objective or straight forward. Yet, this is what safety wants them to be, this doesn’t make them so.
One of the great flaws of the AIHS BoK chapter on Ethics is that it is secretive about its own deontological ethic and then discusses ethics as if it is objective and that a safety person can practice a neutral morality (that it deems to be synonymous with ethics). Of course, such a lack of transparency and simplistic approach to morals is also unethical.
In a similar method, the ideology of zero never declares its ethic or methodology whilst hiding behind the binary morality of ‘there is no other moral choice for safety than zero!’ Of course, the moment one interrogates the methodology of Zero and its denial of fallibility, one learns very quickly that it too is unethical. Risk and safety will never become professional if it continues to parade such simplistic and unprofessional discourse about learning, as it does with zero. It is even more stark when one looks at many of the courses and programs being conducted about learning, learning teams and ethics by safety people who have no such expertise.
When it comes to learning there are a multitude of theories of learning and these have been mapped by Millwood well here: https://cmapscloud.ihmc.us/viewer/cmap/1NZGHPX01-1R6LN24-3LVT. Moore (2004, The Evolution of Learning – Biological Reviews of the Cambridge Philosophical Society 79 (2) pp. 301-335) articulates more than 100 methodologies of learning. The interrelationship between various theories of learning are mapped here: http://iwm.uni-koblenz.de:8081/rid=1J4WFW3B5-188TSW6-9K2/Theories.cmap
By now you will realize that learning is not singular and wicked in nature. When safety talks about learning, the first question should be, ‘what theory of learning is being espoused?’ or, explore the learning method being paraded and a good educator will quickly tell you what is the method and methodology.
In a similar method when it comes to semiotics one needs to ask: ‘what school of semiotics?’ The following map gives some idea of the terrain. Figure 1. Semiotics Map.
Figure 1. Semiotics Map.
What these maps demonstrate is that the last place to find understanding in matters of complexity, is safety.
So, when Safety talks about ‘learning teams’ and ‘learning’ what kind of learning is expected? Constructivist learning? Behaviourist Learning? Cognitivist Learning? Semiosis Learning? Connectivist Learning? (https://griffl.org/comparing-learning-theories/ ) Or they just talking about training? Is it holistic learning? Embodied Learning (https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.01707/full) or is it brain-centric learning? It all matters because some of these theories are about robotic learning, mechanistic learning and not transactional modes of learning. Some models of learning are actually quite brutal and not ethical for a model of caring or helping in learning.
So, don’t believe the spin/idea that learning is objective, neutral and singular. Perhaps you might even enjoy the module we run of learning about learning: https://cllr.com.au/product/learning-community-and-the-social-psychology-of-risk-unit-7/