For many years I've argued that expertise is a mixture of training and experience; knowledge combined with practice. My session in physiotherapy this morning well illustrated the point. For those interested I appear to have trapped a nerve or something which produces an occasional painful numbness in the upper right leg and sharp pains in the lower back. It's a real pain in all senses of the word and make it difficult to sit in one position for more than an hour or so, or to stand for any length of time. I've had the X-Ray so its nothing really bad which is good news, but the cure is time and prescribed exercise. It's messing up my writing and email management by the way so apologies for missed deadlines and the consequences of a backlog of email that is getting progressively worse.
To get to the point. There is a waiting list of physiotherapy in the NHS at the moment and I had to wait a few weeks. I then got the offer of a final year student which I accepted. As I said on the phone They have to be trained. Now the guy was good but theoretical knowledge is not the same as practical ability. He checked with a more senior member of staff frequently and at one point where he was manipulating my spine she stepped in to demonstrate how it should be done. Instant relief, relaxation of tension and a sense that things might get better resulted.
That was a week ago and he has returned to college so I now have the most senior member of the department. Aside from the fact that her fingers know better what to do she also has a better understanding of human motivation. I know have a sheet of paper with illustrations of five exercises I have to do, and a prescription to do them three times a time. She also induced anticipatory guilt, which means I dare not face her again with a record of non-compliance. Now that takes skill and as importantly guile that only comes through experience.