When I was teaching health and safety in the oil industry, in the Steppes of Kazakhstan, in Aberdeen and Baku and in the Gulf – Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia, I often used to kick off a course with my Learning House, in which I looked at receivers of safety information from a semiotics viewpoint. I found the learning house also worked well when discussing English language uptake, which is very much needed among oil industry employees, so am accordingly forwarding it here, where it may equally apply, or may not of course!
The premise is broken into three parts that almost make 3 steps that link:-
i) safety is so important we must ensure safety warnings, messages and advice is heeded and acted upon.
ii) different people (the ”signified” in de Saussure’s semiotic parlance) receive and process information in different ways, for example the VAK theory of 3 different character types (see more here: The VAK Code
iii) the ‘Learning House’ helps categorise receivers of safety information into 4 realistic categories, the Bedroom receiver, the Kitchen receiver, the Living room receiver and the Garden receiver. At this point, if was chatting with you in a group, I’d ask you to pick one of the rooms and discuss why you chose this room or garden as the place you would like to be at this particular time.
I’d then keep you in small groups with others that chose the same location, or alternatively, with others who each chose a different location.
Which of the 4 locations mentioned above, in your house or an ideal house would you prefer to be in at this moment in time, and why?
Let’s look at the 4 categories of receivers of information, in an effort to understand how each receives and processes information, in my context of key safety information.
The Bedroom Receiver
This person works best by studying new information received alone, with intrinsic motivation. In a group s/he may even be sleeping, and will not be the one asking questions or participating in any discussion about the topic. Handouts are useful with this person, as s/he is likely to study them at home alone later. Information should therefore be supplied on paper so it can be studied carefully and quietly.This learner is of an intrapersonal type, if we refer to Chomsky’s 8 learner types.
The Kitchen Receiver
The Kitchen receiver is also intrinsically motived, and is a problem solver. S/he knows how to take meat and vegetables and make something – adding the right amount of pepper and salt. S/he works best with a rigid menu, and is thus an ideal safety learner: s/he understands the steps of fire and emergency drills and follows them diligently. However, if there is no set recipe this person may not take the initiative in an emergency – which is no bad thing many times! Safety information, however, needs to be given as problem-solving tasks within a framework, using information gap techniques. If information is supplied as a huge chunk of information just to read it will not be read.
The Living room Receiver
The socialite learner is great in a classroom setting, and is very often an apt communicator, willing to discuss all safety issues. Indeed, without any discussion about each aspect this receiver of information will take little or nothing from a session. S/he needs to transform information as well as merely transfer, and is seen as an interpersonal learner in Chomsky’s 8 learner types. S/he is someone who is extrinsically motivated, that is motivated by his/her environment, so needs the communication and group setting. The one problem with this learner is s/he is able to chat about anything, not only the subject at hand. Safety, or any other important information must be provided as a topic to be discussed, not studied alone.
The Garden Receiver
The garden receiver, or learner, is often a useful group member to have around. S/he is the do-er, and understands the concept of getting a task done carefully and properly to reap the benefit later. The garden receiver of information is able to see a longer term view. S/he is essentially extrinsically motivated though, and needs the right environment to operate in.
In my experience the 4 categories of receivers of information or learner types I use are valid, and interesting to kick off a course and indeed are valid in a number of training fields and contexts.
My obvious question now is which room did you pick, or did you pick the garden, and does your choice influence the way you pick up and retain information, do you think?
- What type of learner are you? (classroom-aid.com)
- Susan’s Tips for Building Lifelong Learners (piplustutors.wordpress.com)
- Engaged Pedagogy (coopcatalyst.wordpress.com)
- Derailed Learners… Back on Track! (theteacherorganizer.com)