Friday, 6 July 2012

Reflections on competence

Between Thing 9 and 10!

During her between Things post on cpd23, Sheila Webber talked about cpd in your later career, a topic that really grabbed my interest, not least because I’ve been in the profession a long time (31 years, if you must know!), and there have been many life events recently that have caused me not only to reminisce, but also to look forward!

Way back in the ‘70s when I started at university, for many of us this was the first opportunity to experience working with a computer. Actually, as I remember it, we were all terrified in our first couple of weeks when we had to do a test actually using the terminal (remember them? dumb terminals connected to a mainframe!) I’m not sure, but I got the feeling we were going to blow it up if we got the answers wrong!

Anyway, from those early days, the developments in IT have just kept on coming and coming and coming, as  - by a mixture of luck, judgement and training - have our capabilities to use it. However, I have always felt that there was something (well, actually, lots of things) that I didn’t know about but felt I should, but trying to identify what I didn’t know and get the training I needed to get to grips with these things has always been difficult. I’ve blogged in an earlier post about our team new technologies day, which went some way to providing some IT knowledge for team members, and I've blogged about why I took part in the original cdp23 programme, and it’s really for this reason, to keep up with IT developments, that I am keeping an eye on cpd23 2012.

Reading Sheila’s post, I was quite interested in the four levels of competence.

  1. unconscious incompetence - while I was sure I’d passed the first level (no realisation that I was not good at something),
  2. conscious incompetence - I thought I might have passed the second level (realisation that I was not good at something),
  3. conscious competence - and really hoped I’d got to the next level, which was stopping being not good at something if I really put my mind to it!
  4. unconscious competence - I quaked a bit when I read about “unconscious competence”; this suggests that one is brilliant at doing something without realising it, or having to think about it. Given my levels of confidence (i.e. complete lack of self-confidence) I thought it unlikely that I had reached this level of competence, but of course, I couldn’t help contemplating that maybe others thought that with the length of time I’ve been in the profession I really ought to have reached that level and therefore I needed to beware that I wasn’t slipping into competence level 1 in the eyes of others!
Taking Sheila’s advice, I should force myself out of any comfortable habits by self-evaluating, joining a peer-review scheme, or talking with critical friends, as well as setting up mechanisms to keep myself updated.

Sheila also wrote about the work of one of her PhD students, Eva Hornung, on how one’s view of cpd changes over time, and I am quite sure that I am in the stage that views cpd as lifelong learning! As far as I am concerned, life is one long life-long learning event, as my colleagues at mashdmu will confirm! Never a day goes by when I don’t learn something, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that I am constantly reviewing what I’ve learned and putting it into action. If this were the case, I would spend so much time reflecting that actually, I’d never get anything done!!

Hmmm, now that’s made me think ... ! Reflections on reflection ...

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