A week past Friday I was ‘lucky’ enough to take the IPAF course. IPAF stands for International Powered Access Federation, they are the body that trains individuals to use cherry pickers, scissor lifts and other access equipment. I’ve had a little experience with scissor lifts before so i was feeling ok about them but cherry pickers i had no idea about.
The day was split into two parts, a theory test followed by a practical test. The theory test was given to us twice. The first time the test was taken was before we received any information about lifting equipment, so we had to use common sense and guess work. The instructor then proceeded to give us a thorough powerpoint interspersed with reviewing some of the questions and anecdotal stories. It was an effective way to present the information, it kept what could have been a very dry presentation engaging. This was probably down to the fact many of the people taking the course would not be in education like myself and my colleagues but in the building trade. The course instructor told us he had experience of people taking the course who had dyslexia or who could not read or write, but needed the license in order to work. We were taking the course with 4 window fitters who had years and years of experience using the access equipment. Although they had the experience over us they fared worse in the written test than we did (they got their own back during the practical).
After passing the test we moved on to the practical. We inspected the machines with a different instructor, asking questions and giving demonstrations as we went along. This instructor was a bit more combative that the last. Both were from the Bernard Manning school of comedy ‘banter’ but our second instructor was playing more for laughs than the last. Because of this I found myself disengaging a little more than during the practical. I don’t respond well to that kind of humour and its not the kind of teaching method i will be copying to my majority female students.
After a short practice session on both the scissor lift and the cherry picker, in which our glass fitter pals gave us more tips and tricks that the instructor, we took the test. After a hour and a half wait in between the two practical tests, i had really felt that i had disengaged slightly, which led me to be a tad haphazard with my visual checks. I felt that by doing both test after each other would have been a better way to embed the learning.
Overall it was a good experience to be put in a different learning environment, with different participants and teaching styles although a railed slightly against the LAD teaching styles of some of the instructors. I learned something new and it also made me more conscience of health and safety requirements, always good to revisit that! I look forward to putting myself in new learning situations in the future!