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Collaborative problem solving for community safety
Collaborative problem solving for community safety

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1.3 Sources of learning

Described image
Figure 1 Sources of learning

You can develop your skills and knowledge when you:


There are many different sorts of books and other written materials that can:

  • help you expand your horizons
  • provide new insights and ideas
  • help you learn techniques that will save you time.

All types of writing offer a learning experience, including novels and poetry, as well as non-fiction self-help manuals, documents and biographies.


Some writing is aimed at professional or academic readers, so the style is sometimes hard to understand or appreciate. Asking other people to explain, or tell you what they think about the ideas, can help make sense of them.

You will learn a lot by asking other people – inside and outside of the workplace – how they tackle things and why they do things a certain way; what they have learned through study or experience.


There are at least two aspects to watching:

  • watching other people in order to learn different approaches to things
  • watching carefully what happens when you do something new and then thinking about why it happened that way.

When you work on automatic pilot, you are not really thinking about what you are doing. However, opening up your attention and taking notice of what happens creates useful learning opportunities.


Thoughts, feelings, attitudes and behaviours are all linked. You can use your thoughts to make sense of your feeling, and your intuition to guide your thinking.


Sharing ideas with colleagues, friends, family or members of an organisation you belong to is a good way of learning to understand a range of perspectives on a situation and to challenge your instinctive responses. Regular conversations can also help sharpen your communication and problem-solving skills.


Having enough time to really think about your life and learning may seem like a luxury, but Thompson points out that thinking time is an essential for times when you are not busy.

If you put some effort into thinking about crises and planning to avoid them, you can save time on fighting problems in the future. You can be more in charge of what is happening to you rather than feeling at the mercy of unforeseen events.

Activity 3 Learning from experience

Timing: Allow about 15 minutes for this activity.

Looking at the diagram in figure 1, choose three of the sources of learning, and for each one write in your journal an example of when learning in this way helped you interact with your community. If you find it difficult to think of examples for some of the sources, it may be that you don’t learn in this way very frequently. You could make a deliberate effort to do so in the coming weeks.

If you can, add further examples to your notes later, or add examples of when you have benefited from the other sources of learning.