Friday, 15 February 2019

Allergies, Allergens- How serious, How severe, How significant?

*      How serious are we about allergies and allergens?
*      How much significance do we place on effective competent communication of allergens in products to customers?

*      How serious are allergies in terms of our health response as well as the amounts of people suffering from this condition?
*      What are the consequences when something goes wrong?

Recently, I have been looking back at the information we receive from FSA (Food Standard Agency) via updates and food alerts. They usually arrive by email, warning of potential dangers, what they are and what products have been affected. Food alerts can range from ‘salmonella in a product’ to ‘a missing ingredient on the label’.

Which one, do you think, sounds more daunting? Salmonella? For some certainly or perhaps for us all? Eating food contaminated with high levels of Salmonella could have catastrophic effects on us all. The fact that young children, the elderly or people with a weakened immune system are more at risk makes things even worse, even terrifying considering the consequences!


What about if an ingredient (possible allergen) in a product but missing from the label? Does it petrify us? What about the consequences of this potentially dangerous situation? Will it affect us all? Perhaps only those with an allergy to a particular ingredient will be affected?


So, how much weight do we put on these two potential dangers? Are they both of a similar significance? Do we approach them in the same way?

The consequences could be of a similar severity; however, the number of potential victims of one particular foodborne disease outbreak could surpass the victims of lacking allergen ingredient on a label. It does not mean, though, that the ‘label’ situation is less important or dangerous. Especially, if you consider that this affected person could be you or someone close to you or that you know and the effect is often life threatening.  

Only this year in January 2019, I received no less than 12 Updates from FSA. How many of these, do you think, were ‘Allergy alerts’?
There were 10 allergy alerts and two other food alerts

Think about this, plan to prevent this and act on this before it’s too late.

Thursday, 24 January 2019

♤Playing cards♧ in the classroom♢

Playing cards in the classroom
My greatest challenge while teaching is to engage learners, making the subject interesting and practical.
A training course in a classroom is slightly different from a traditional workplace, in that in the classroom people don’t necessarily know each other, so sometimes, communication hardly happens.
In the classroom people don’t always carry out tasks with confidence and the expertise of their “shop floor” activities. In the classroom people often learn things that they cannot relate to anything that they know, instead they do their best to memorize ‘stuff’ that everyone else considers “significant”. But, depending on the course and its level, this ‘stuff’ can grow and grow not only in size but difficulty or complexity too. For some individuals it can turn into a daunting experience, like pulling out a decayed tooth; it’s good once it is out but until it happens, the experience is not one to look forward to’. 
The idea of playing cards is to ease any discomfort and counteract any negative outcomes that could result from the above. ‘Definition cards’ for subjects such as Food Safety or HACCP (from HIGHFIELD Qualifications) at different levels appear to be quite a useful tool to meet the needs of the group and individuals.
Played at the beginning of the course, during the day, at the end of the day/course or at home, the cards start engaging people in conversation, cooperation, collaboration and even discussion. Played in pairs (that would change with each round) they encourage people to get to know each other, learn from each other as each person would have a slightly different set of experiences and knowledge so they would be able to answer different questions. People also realize that, actually, the content of what they are going to learn is not completely new to them. Learners are often familiar with parts of it from their work practice and while looking for matching answers they would suddenly realize how much they already know, and what they don’t know. Throughout the session/course they will discover ‘stuff’ for themselves and close the knowledge gaps within individual contexts, at their own pace, with another round of cards. The ‘card experience’ creates a more relaxed but focussed atmosphere of learning where learners challenge themselves and utilize each other’s knowledge and skills to move ahead.
By the time learners get to their exam, they are confident with the new learning that actually fits well within their existing system of knowledge and understanding.
What can be better than learning something that makes sense?  
It works in our classroom and our learners, perhaps it is worth giving it a go?

To find out more about the theories used in this article, have a look at the following books:
Hattie, J. & Yates, G. (2014) Visible Learning and the Science of How We Learn. London: Routledge.
Petty, G. (2014) Teaching Today. 5th edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Friday, 11 January 2019

New Year’s resolutions

New Year’s resolutions

It’s January, the month of resolutions that are supposed to change our life. What are the reasons for these determinations of change? Perhaps, because we are not entirely happy with some aspects of our life, i.e. job or health we remain quite self-critical and often see things as difficulties or problems.
As ‘reflection’ has become more and more prevalent in teaching and learning, what about applying this to our life, especially in the way we think and perceive things? One of Carl Rogers’ concepts was that reflecting and learning engage the whole person, modifying and transforming our cognitive system, as well as our beliefs, feelings and self-concept.
 Instead of fixing something that we consider a fault, why don’t we start with reflecting on our perceptions and attitudes.
I am sure that it is more exciting to live up to our challenges rather than our difficulties.