THE PLEASURE OF INSTRUCTING ADULTS
As a child, I was a very poor student – a “dreamer”. As a teenager, I was a belligerent student and I confess that I would not have wanted to be one of my teachers.
Thinking back, I believe this activity was because I didn’t want to be there. Gazing out the window to exciting weather, watching people driving by (always a desire) and just living life had my interest. It didn’t matter, both snowstorms and warm sunny days were appealing and I wanted to be outside in the elements.
I was not able to see the connection between learning and my future potential ability. Algebra, a topic that comes to mind. I haven’t used algebra much in my career, however, I do understand the abstract principle of substituting a symbol to represent huge, vast, and overwhelming things, bringing them down to a size your brain can simplify. “A”, “b”, and “x” have made life so much easier to comprehend at times.
It wasn’t until I started to work that I began to find learning useful. The secret of learning something and taking it back to work to use was instantly exciting. What I learned was packed into my tool bag, as I practiced, it became experience and lifelong knowledge that I have never forgotten. Even now, if it has not been used for a long time, it comes back. If you were into computers, how about the MS-DOS commands that you once knew well and used every day?
At some point in time, I began to share my knowledge with others. My injury in 1979 was probably my greatest motivator because I began to think about safety after that. My first dealings with the WCB (compensation board) were with my own injury and later, as a Dispatcher, I automatically took over the writing of Form 7” s (initial report) for every injury the company had. Eventually, I fell into the “safety” role, because of that. That’s when I really began to study and I found myself taking as many courses as I could. This was stuff that I could use.
It was an automatic transition, sharing what I had learned and utilizing it to try to prevent people from getting hurt. Helping to prevent damage to vehicles put a smile on the boss’s face, and keeping costs (injury and property damage) down made me feel worthwhile.
That brings me to my instructional career. The delight of my career. Courses that I took enabled me to teach various safety-related subjects. I found that the candidates in my classes actually wanted to be there and therefore made it very easy for me to present and for them to absorb information. The material I was teaching was being used immediately, on the drive home from the class.
These were adults that I was teaching. Like me, they had turned the corner to understand that learning was for their own benefit. They could choose, to some degree, as to what they wanted to learn. They also chose to use it, or not, in their daily living. Those who listened, paid attention, who followed the safety tips provided usually stayed safe and out of trouble. That’s where my knowledge became useful to them which they, in-turn, shared with their families.
Yes, I did a lot of Lesson Planning. Yes, I prepared drawings, gathered and inserted pictures and gobbled up traffic and crash news articles to expose road and safety hazards. Constantly changing as the presentation equipment I used became more sophisticated, the lessons became better and better. They became more and more interesting. I would often hear: “When is the next class?”
Something I found amazing was the amount of new information I accumulated from the students. These folks were all experienced drivers, each had a story to tell. Some were horrendous mishap stories where the individual really learned the hard way, through severe injury to themselves or experiencing extremely scary or destructive circumstances. Each added something to my toolbox. I used it well.
I found that I usually had to extend my planning for class-time by about an hour or more. The reason? Out of a class of around 20 candidates, 15 of them would hang around later to tell me of their own experiences. As long as I was willing to listen, and they had the time, they would ply me with their stories. Often, they would show up in my office at a later time with something they had thought of because of our classroom dialog. Each piece would stimulate my thinking.
Teaching safety to adults was a fascinating and rewarding experience for me. Each of us has experienced some form of safety knowledge with everything we have done all our lives. When you learned to ride a bicycle, you learned safety. When you learned to cook an egg, you learned safety and when you learned to drive, you learned safety, bigtime. The past knowledge that has been growing since childhood is there, in the back of your mind, just ready to be exploited. The more interesting you can make it for others, the better teacher and safety practitioner you become.
Being a safety practitioner may be a career that you might want to consider.
Keep your people safe. The beauty of life is in your hands.
THINK SAFETY ……… EVERYWHERE ……….. ALL THE TIME
About the Author
Your Old Uncle Nicky’s Opinions
Nick Nicholson, is a retired safety practitioner who spent many years researching the human behaviour factors of driver and pedestrian actions. Specifically, he spent 25 of those years devoted to highway crash investigations, regulatory compliance, the design, implementation and presentation of safety programs. Nick enjoyed many hours presenting professional driver enhancement training to adult participants.
As a long time Fleet Safety Council Member (1988) and the Founding Chair (1992-1995) of Council’s Hamilton-Niagara Chapter, he presents his opinions in hopes of improving the safety knowledge of readers. Nick is a firm believer in human advancement through positive attitudes, solution thinking and the understanding that the beauty of life is always in your hands.
Old Uncle Nicky’s Opinions are his own and in no way reflect the opinions of Fleet Safety Council