In September I attended the 1st Researcher Education & Development Conference at Halifax Hall. We focused on how we could support researcher development, which is no small task when you consider the expansive Vitae Researcher Development Framework (RDF) ,that identifies 63 possible areas.
It was during the conference that one of the speakers talked about patchworks in relation to learning and I thought this was a wonderful idea. We learn by adding new bits of information, values and ideas to what we already know. We choose the bits we think are worthwhile and discard anything we do not think to be of use. So it is like making a patchwork as we carefully select what we find will fit in and add to the framework in our heads. Although gathered from different areas, it should hang together to make a wonderful pattern. Each person’s patchwork of learning is unique to them but this raises questions, such as, does it serve its purpose? Do all the patches complement each other? Are there gaps? What do we need to make it grow in the future? How can we find the new pieces to be added?
The RDF is a good place to start to identify which skills you may need to develop and to record which of those you have already attained. I often think of viewing the RDF as similar to looking into a diamond. You can never take it all in at once, but need to keep turning the diamond around to have a look at it from all angles in order to see what it has to offer. You will often be attracted to certain parts of it and focus on them for a while, as you rotate it in your hand. Our development is a bit like that as we focus on areas that interest us, or we feel would be useful in the future. We cannot take in all the opportunities on offer, as we do not have the time, and therefore we focus on what we feel is important.
Choosing learning can be about carefully selecting what will provide us with a suitable patchwork for the future. Each of us can choose a different set of learning opportunities so that our ‘learning patchwork’ is unique to ourselves and meets our needs. So think of the RDF as many different bits of material from which you can put together your own patchwork of development, tailored to suit you. It grows and changes along with you. The patchwork then becomes more familiar to us as we wear it and live it so that it becomes comfortable and maybe even faded and worn in places.
This November the University is celebrating 30 years of staff development so this is an ideal opportunity to find out was is on offer and consider your future professional development. This can help you develop your own amazing patchwork.