Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Listen Up

One of my most favourite things to do is to scuba dive. I left learning to do it late in life due to lack of money, time and any other excuse that got thrown my way but now I am trying to make up for lost time.

This week in my holidays I am undergoing the PADI Advanced Open Water dive course and I am finding it a bit tough. When diving there is a bunch of safety factors you need to remember which after a while becomes second nature, you also need to remember how to put your equipment together, which again, becomes automatic after a while.

When learning more advanced stuff about diving, there is reading to do and then discussion on the content with the instructor - not too difficult. What I am finding really tough is when we do the dive brief for the dive we are about to do and he tells me about 40 things I need to remember - the multiple activities he wants me to do, how to do it, things to remember, problems that may occur etc etc ... the problem with this is I am a notetaker and a question asker - neither of which can be utilised under water.

Underwater there is limited communication through sign language, and it is not conducive for questioning. I can take a slate with me to write underwater, and he is now using one to help me remember what we need to do in what order - he writes on it before we go in and then shows me the next item to do for the test. But, we are under water for about an hour and there is no eraser .... the slate is full.

As a learner I am finding it hard to keep up even with this differentiation. This got me thinking about what we do with students at school - verbal instructions are used much of the time. Now I admit I have a have a diminishing short term memory (I like to think because I have crammed so much in there over the years) and am finding it difficult to follow multiple instructions for something I am really, really interested in.

Young people have sharp minds, but still I think they would find it hard going to follow multiple instructions in something they may not be quite as interested in. "You were not listening" may be the answer they receive when they ask a question about what they have just been told..... maybe they were listening - just taking a longer time to process it, and then the next instruction came through and that was completely missed.

This small (and quite stressful) experience of mine has confirmed with me that differentiation is required, written prompts are required and visuals are required when instructions are being given. And time - time to process, to think, to ask questions will also help. And allow them to take notes too might help....

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