Sunday, 19 June 2011

Competence, the Code, and Trying Aristotle Again

This week has been an interesting and varied one. I spent an entire morning taking part in competency based interviews. Given my predilection for difference, those that know me will understand how bizarre my involvement in such a process might have been. MI5 use competency based interviews on the basis that, done properly, they can help the interviewer understand a person’s past behaviour, something said to be the best predictor of future behaviour. Competency based interviews are designed to assess a candidate against a standard set of competencies required for the role. The candidates are not assessed against each other, but against these competencies. Surrealy, I was interviewing my PA for a Head of School PA job, a job she has done excellently for me over the past four years, and hopefully will continue to do so.

I also took part in an event that sought to understand what is meant by inclusive teaching. The first task was to ask the participants to work in small groups aimed at developing just one definition of what is meant by inclusive teaching. An impossible and some would say redundant task, given that being inclusive, in this context, must mean embracing the individual and difference. Likewise power differentials, economic considerations and professional expectations will all contribute to the interpersonal dynamics of the teaching relationships we engage in with  students.

Later on in the week I presented a case at a Fitness for Professional Practice hearing involving a student nurse studying in our School. There are currently over 660,000 nurses and midwives on the NMC register. If an allegation is made about a nurse or midwife who may not meet the standards set, the NMC will investigate and, where necessary, take action to safeguard the health and wellbeing of the public. However, less than 0.2% of nurses and midwives have allegations made about their fitness to practise. The vast majority work within their code and consistently meet the high standards expected by the public. The Code is the foundation of good nursing and midwifery practice. Competency based interviews don’t feature in these FfPP processes, thankfully.

And then Friday came and there was an opportunity to spend some time writing. A couple of my colleagues and I are trying to write a paper about the ethics of contemporary mental health nursing practice. It is not proving an easy task! The paper has already had two different drafts reviewed by the journals peer reviewers, and vastly different views expressed on the quality and standard of the argument in the papers discussion. We are using some of Aristotle ideas as the basis for developing our analysis, which is where the challenge comes from. Aristotle was a Greek philosopher whose writings were the first to create a comprehensive system of Western philosophy, encompassing morality and aesthetics, logic and science, politics and metaphysics.

I am pleased to say that much progress was achieved, and a third and hopefully what will be the final and successful draft is beginning to emerge. I enjoy writing and words fascinate me. More than anything words have the power to change things. While words can hurt, intrigue, inform, embolden, show care and love in equal measure, words can also cause great amusement.

I found a headline in yesterdays Times very amusing. The story was about Michele Bachmann, a woman tipped to be the Republican most likely to oust Barak Obama in the forthcoming US presidential elections. The headline was Bachmann turns on the overdrive as Palin teases. What a brilliant play on words I thought. But perhaps you need to be a reader of a certain age to understand.

Bachman Turner Overdrive was a super group of the 1970’s. Their most famous song was You aint seen nothing yet –  a song about a man who meets and falls in love with a devil woman. His is an unrequited love, whereas she keeps the relationship going through  promises of excitement and enjoyment, hence the songs title. It is somewhat ironic then that in 1983, Margaret Thatcher on a visit to the US famously quoted the songs title when making a speach to Ronald Reagan. She has just been elected for a second term, and her promise to the British people was of better times to come. History would seem to suggest that peole experienced those better times in different ways!
And for Fathers everywhere today, have a  Happy Fathers Day.