Tuesday, December 03, 2013

"I can't believe this guy didn't understand the expectations" - Anchorage Police Chief

Last Wednesday's Anchorage Daily News had an article about a police officer who used the APD's computer system to look up information about people for non-work related reasons.

Reporter Casey Grove writes,
Police Chief Mark Mew said Tuesday that he had warned the recruits on the academy's first day about inappropriate behavior while on duty.
"I can't believe this guy didn't understand the expectations," Mew said.
I've seen Chief Mew in action over the years and I think he's grown a lot and is dedicated  to making Anchorage as safe a place as possible.

But as a teacher, I'd point out that people often don't hear what they are told, especially on the first day.  I know that my students, on the first day, basically wanted to know how much work they would have to do, how many papers, how much reading, so they could figure out if they could do ok in class.

Even if they did hear anything else, there was no guarantee that what they understood was what I had intended.  And if the class wasn't interactive, where the students were forced to think and respond, the odds of them getting other stuff, especially information that was not part of what they already knew, was low.  Even when I told students exactly what they needed to do to prepare for the next week's class, they didn't believe me.  Until they had a quiz the next week and they realized that if they had done what I said, they would have passed the quiz.

So warning recruits on the academy's first day about inappropriate behavior isn't going to impact performance unless they actually listen and understand the details. And while some may get it, the others won't unless they are engaged in the discussion and given opportunities to role play, respond to case studies,  or otherwise actively participate in ways that force them to put their understanding into action. Which allows the instructor and the student to see if the student understood.  Just because you say it, doesn't mean they learned it. 

I imagine though, that the recruits got the information more than that one time from the Chief on the first day.  But understanding how humans learn new ideas (not easily) and new behaviors (by practicing them rather than hearing about them)  will make changing recruits' understanding and behavior more likely.

And there are some whom the academy simply won't reach.  And the academy has to have ways to detect who those people are and help them find more appropriate employment.

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