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Put the lifejacket on and turn information into knowledge

By Noigroup HQ Education for all 08 Aug 2019

EP3 with a life jacket

Declarative knowledge is information you can state and list like pi = 3.142… Functional knowledge is best use of the information such as working out the size of tanks, brewing kits or crop circles. There will be a lot of new material presented at EP3 but Johan , Lorimer and David will be putting a life jacket on the material.  Better read on!!

In the unlikely event…

NOIjam readers are likely to have been on numerous flights, perhaps even hundreds. On every flight, a steward will have stood out the front and given a safety demonstration including information about the life jacket and how to put it on in the “unlikely event of an emergency.” (The word “unlikely” makes me think it’s more likely than it is! )

Is that the whistle??

I am going to guess that many of you may be a bit like me. I watch the demonstration and I wonder if I could actually put the jacket on in an emergency and I wonder where exactly is the tube that I must blow into, and where is that light and whistle and how do I make them work, all while floating in a shark infested sea!  And then I sometimes avoid watching the steward put on the jacket, perhaps a little embarrassed that I have seen the demonstration many times, but I am still not quite sure what to do. I’m glad when the demo is over!

On reflection, the life jacket is on the wrong person. I believe that if we were all able to put the jacket on just once, tighten the straps, blow into the tube, check out the light and whistle, and imagine ourselves using it, then we may not feel the embarrassment and in the event of a water landing, lives may actually be saved. It would only take a minute! I know it would be somewhat impractical to have the whole plane putting their life jacket on at once but maybe airports could have “test your life jacket skills in the unlikely event of an emergency” stations. Or maybe we would find it all too embarrassing?

Using knowledge to make discoveries

Our Explain Pain teaching and research efforts are moving more deeply into andragogical science  and educational psychology. I picked up the life jacket example in Bjork et al (2013) and instantly found it a useful teaching metaphor. Education is not just a matter of knowing things, it’s using this knowledge to make discoveries, to make new knowledge from the discoveries and to put the knowledge to use in life. Simply “try it out to know it”. What an Explain Pain fit! Take the most widely used infographic in Explain Pain – the twin peaks model below. It’s no use just looking at it, get out and live it – and in particular, reflect on how we usually overprotect after injury and the buffer we make between tissue damage and pain production and how hard it is to damage tissues with such a powerful protective system.


Reflect on this next time you are on a plane and hear the life jacket demo. How do you feel? What would be the best way to master lifejacket use? You could ask the steward to lend you the jacket for a moment! And you could take the lifejacket story to your clients as you help them take the pain stories out into life. We will be doing lots of this at the EP3 event in Brisbane later this year

Cheers All

– David Butler

Bjork RA, Dunlosky J, Kornell N (2013) Self-regulated learning: beliefs, techniques, and illusions. Ann Rev Psychol 64:417-44


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