Going back to school.

While most of the #FOAMed world descended on the Gold Coast for #SMACCgold I was off to school with Ms 5. Going back to school was an interesting experience and reinforced the models used for teaching. As training CC doctors are pretty similar to five-year olds (see: attention spans.) I think many of them are directly applicable to our departmental training/teaching.

school 1st day

The first thing that you notice when you enter the class is the structure. Both in terms of location and routine. The day starts with mat-time where the days activities are discussed. After this follows news when those with something interesting to say have a turn to do so. Then a short break and some physical activity to burn off some energy. The day continues in this structured manner, with group activities alternating with independent work and regular breaks.

If a child does something that is considered bad behaviour they are not immediately punished. Often the first comment is distraction or a reminder to think about their actions. If they persist they are  moved from any distractions around them. Behaviour is defined by good and bad choices/decisions. Children are responsible for their own decisions but it’s also made acknowledged that the actions of others can impact this.

Role modelling is used to allow the smooth transition of children into the class room. You often hear “If you are not sure what to do look to one of the older children and follow their example” This extends to the playground. Older children are empowered to problem solve on the playground and not involve teachers unless they feel it is required.

Sessions in the classroom are explained in simple terms. Children are explained why they are doing activities as well as the practicalities. If unsure they are encouraged to ask questions of the teacher or their peers.


These concepts seem very simple and straightforward we sometimes struggle with them in hospital departments. How often do we hear  “do as I say not as I do…”   Whilst Shame based teaching is less common than previously, people are still singled out for attention without the context of the actions being taken into account. Another important factor is teaching they reasons for procedures or investigations rather than discussing the technique. This is even more important in heavily protocol driven areas.

After spending time in a class full of 5 year olds I will be going back to basics when it comes to departmental teaching.