It’s not what you know, it’s how you learn
Bob Newsome discusses why continual learning should be a voyage of discovery
“The more I learn, the more I realise I don’t know”, Albert Einstein once said. Learning is a fundamental and enjoyable part of life from the moment we are born, but we all learn differently, in our own particular way and according to our individual life circumstances.
There have been many studies and debates over the years about how the learning process works; some experts say there are as many as seven or more different learning styles, but no one learning style has ever been proved to be more effective than another. The secret of success lies in identifying which style suits you best and a personal commitment to never stop learning.
When it comes to the learning process, we can condense the generally accepted styles into three main categories:
• Visual – Learning from what you can see. Visual learners learn best when information is presented in a visual way in formats such as charts, diagrams, presentations and illustrations.
• Aural – Learning from what you hear. Auditory learners learn best through information presented in a spoken format such as lectures, discussions and webinars.
• Tactile – Learning through touch and hands-on activities. Tactile learners learn best through physical activity and hands-on experimentation, using their hands to create and build.
It’s fair to say that most people actually use a combination of learning styles, but we generally have a preference for one style in particular.
In today’s dental profession, continual learning has never been more important. The introduction of new techniques, technologies and processes, along with ever-changing compliance rules and regulations, means there is a constant need to refresh knowledge. And, of course, there is also the additional requirement that all registered dental professionals must attain the required hours of CPD.
In order to meet demand within this continually evolving landscape, there are an increasing number of learning aids, courses and educational programmes. Most of these are either based online or through face-to-face tuition and provide training and education on a range of clinical, technical and practical subjects to suit all learning styles.
Companies within the dental industry have long recognised that education can be an important factor in decision-making and are the source of much of the profession’s educational materials, be that seminars, courses, webinars, online CPD articles or study days.
One of the key factors about learning within a profession such as dentistry is time. Working in a busy dental practice can leave little time for study and this fact has been some of the impetus behind the popularity of online education, either through blended learning or simply through online CPD articles. We, for instance, upload a new CPD article to our website every two months, and hope that in so doing we are helping provide accessible and relevant education for dental nurses.
Our most recent addition to the education field is a one-day City & Guilds accredited course, which combines theoretical and practical teaching aimed specifically at those responsible for decontamination within the practice, which is often the remit of the dental nurse. The course blends theoretical ‘classroom’ learning with practical application demonstrated in our fully equipped decontamination suite, which means that delegates can benefit from both auditory and tactile learning styles.
The City & Guilds accreditation provides important third-party validation of this course’s value and provides a transferable qualification that nurses can take with them as they progress in their career.
There is no doubt that the educational needs of the dental profession will continue to grow as the appetite and requirement for learning increases and as a responsible manufacturer and supplier, we believe our role is to help fill this gap wherever our resources and knowledge allow.
I believe that learning and education should be seen as an opportunity to enjoy new experiences, to learn from experts in their fields and be able to apply the knowledge gained when you return to practice. All the learning opportunities that are available should be grasped, and by learning in the style that suits you best, you will be able to acquire the foundation of knowledge that will result in greater job satisfaction.