Our columns today offer the perspectives of a teacher and of a student. For those of you who are mentors, it’s important to connect with your novices with a way to help them understand what we do and why, and to make it relevant to the daily experience. Hands-on experience combined with theoretical knowledge provides the best learning opportunity in our field.
Confucius put it simply, “I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.” Theoretical knowledge is the basis for practical knowledge, and explains why things are done a certain way. Mistakes are inevitable when practicing without background knowledge, and practical knowledge helps in understanding theoretical concepts, a sort of upward learning spiral. Practical training benefits both the novice and the trainer. For those of us who have been in the field for many years, we may do things by instinct without having to “figure it out.” By training someone, we step back and remember the theory that explains the action.
Still, while anecdotes provide a way to relate to practical application of theory, it isn’t the same as rolling up one’s sleeves and doing the job. As Jane Aubrey said in the movie For Love of the Game, “It's never quite how you play it in your head.” We imagine the delight in our patients’ faces as we deliver stylish eyewear that allows them to see a bright and beautiful world. But it’s nearly impossible to prepare for all of the various face to face patient scenarios, not to mention mechanical issues, which ECPs see every day. Clearly, teaching and learning in our profession is a precise combination of both theoretical and practical knowledge. Mentors must ensure that their apprentices have plenty of both. For teaching tools in the theoretical that have clear practical applications to benefit teacher and student, check out our CEs at 2020mag.com/ce.