Why do we learn? I’m not being facetious here, just ask yourself why do you learn something? To use it, of course. When you need it. Why do we practice, reinforce, reteach and relearn? To keep the knowledge fresh and viable.
I saw that in action this week at the Byron Generating Station I work at. People in many departments coming together and using all their skills, knowledge, and practice. Amazing how well a group of people can operate calmly and with great knowledge under stress. My new colleagues performed admirably during some stressful times.
What do you learn that you may need in an emergency? First aid? As a Boy Scout leader, we teach first aid every year. We have first aid meets where the Scouts put into practice he knowledge they learned. That way they are frequently both stressed and reinforced.
What are some other skills you learn and reinforce for the times you need them? Changing a flat tire? How to jump a car battery? We all have many examples of skills we learn, and hopefully job aids we use so we can remember the correct step by step procedure.
I have talked about learning nuggets, just in time learning. But perhaps that’s not the issue we should be addressing. It’s not just in time, but it’s preparation beforehand to be ready just when you need it.
Now some tasks you wouldn’t need to practice frequently, others you might need to. I think about the people on the Costa cruise ship. How could they not have the muster drill right away? They were on the ship for an afternoon and evening when it hit the rocks. Without any training, panic was all that could set in. It’s amazing more people weren’t hurt or worse, given the lack of preparation. Now think about the last time you truly listened to the airline safety announcements? 20 years ago?
It’s up to each of us to do our part to be prepared, to learn what we need to, and to be able to respond effectively. Just in time? Perhaps, but I’d also want to know what I need to know up front.