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What *scale* are we using here...?

I volunteered to help with a local hedge survey. To be honest, I'm not entirely sure what a hedge survey is, and the info supplied did not greatly enlighten me - but I thought it sounded interesting and assumed someone would tell me more before I got too involved.

Now I have an invite to a 'training day' with a form to fill in that asks (in Avenir 35 light, an unusual choice of font, though undeniably cheery):
"I would say that my skills/experience/knowledge of landscape archaeology is: poor / fair / good / high / expert

I would say that my skills/experience/knowledge of plant species identification is: poor / fair / good / high / expert "

I have no idea how to answer these questions. I'm tempted to say 'poor' for both, on the grounds that then I'm not raising expectations and presumably they are assuming a level of basic interest from the fact that I've volunteered at all?   But then my plant species identification is better than my landscape archaeology, so maybe that should be fair. Except I'm not sure how fair, good, and high are different, they sound like Tolkienien elf-descriptions. But presumably they are on a sliding scale of some sort.  If you were high, would you graduate to 'expert' if you wrote a book? 

It also asks about 'relevant qualifications' which I always feel is a 'how long is a piece of string' question in a very Dirk Gently, fundamental-interconnectedness-of-all-things manner. 


( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
30th Mar, 2012 16:14 (UTC)
I don't think they care what scale you use, as long as your post-course form shows that your knowledge has increased, which will allow them to go "Woot! We've facilitated LEARNING!" and justify their funding. So clearly what you should do is say "good" now, and "poor" when asked to reassess your knowledge after the course, prompting them to freak out and wonder what on earth they did to cause all knowledge to flee your brain.

Either that, or mark yourself as "expert" and spend the entire course exuding an air of subtly superior disapproval, occasionally shaking your head discreetly or sucking in a quiet breath, but never actually saying anything.
30th Mar, 2012 19:46 (UTC)
Oh lord, of course. Public sector... I was foolishly assuming that I was being asked questions because the answers might actually be useful to someone! How naive am I! :-D
31st Mar, 2012 18:01 (UTC)
I am sure that you have the right of it there.
30th Mar, 2012 16:26 (UTC)
If you can identify a basic range of British hedgerow tree and shrub species - hazel, hawthorne, elder etc I'd go for at least fair for plant identification. It always amazes me how some people don't even how a beech tree from an oak tree but then I did an ecology degree...
30th Mar, 2012 19:54 (UTC)
I can do the standard trees and shrubs, and I've done some hedgelaying and green woodworking... I went and had a wander along our hedge, and I could name almost everything in there, though not by latin name, so I think I may be self-promoting and go for 'good' - as you say, most people are surprisingly bad at telling species apart!

I'll be lost if they want someone who can tell oak subspecies apart or identify grasses though!
1st Apr, 2012 11:35 (UTC)
I'd call that good. Oak subspecies I'm not too bad on, grasses are what good field guides are for, I can identify about 3 without one!
30th Mar, 2012 19:04 (UTC)
Hedge survey? Is that the one where you have to shake a bit of the hedge and count all the bugs that fall out?

I'd be scratching my head over the assessment though - they need to insert a couple of words between 'poor' and 'fair' to balance out the 'good/high/expert' end of the spectrum.
30th Mar, 2012 19:42 (UTC)
I *think* this one is more about identifying ancient hedgerows - hence the landscape archaeology Q.
(we have Cornish hedges that are stone wall underneath, then beech or hawthorn hedge on top, sometimes with a sunken road, and I believe some of those are very old. Possibly the survey is a first step towards preservation - at the moment, farmers basically bulldoze holes in them if they want to put a gate in a new place...)

Not that I'm against identifying bugs, but I'd definitely rate my knowledge as 'poor' there!
30th Mar, 2012 20:09 (UTC)
And what kind of questions will you be asking the hedges?
2nd Apr, 2012 15:49 (UTC)
No idea. That's what the training course is for, I assume : learning not to ask stuff like:

"You! Hedge! When did you stop beating your wife???"

2nd Apr, 2012 15:32 (UTC)
poor / fair / good / high / expert ...

If it was a Kent Wildlife Trust survey, I'd expect people to reply something on these lines:

Expert - professional landscape archaeologist / ecologist / academic knowledge of hedgerow plants

High - Amateur field interest in such matters for many years, probably almost as good as professional

Good - A few years experience of local area hedgerows and some self study etc

Fair - Most people who have general interest and who see things and go home and look them up and learn from those lookings up

Poor - not a bloody clue of hedgerows or landscape archaeology
2nd Apr, 2012 15:48 (UTC)
Excellent, a useful reply! :-D Thanks...

In that case I think I will rate myself good on plants, and fair on landscape archaeology, on the grounds that I'm better at the plants, but I have read a few books on the archaeology.

Now of course having figured out the boxes, I have to work out whether I can actually make the scheduled times for the course...
30th Apr, 2012 19:03 (UTC)
I'm still catching up on my friend's list - love the new lurcher. He's gorgeous!!

I'm intrigued by the hedge survey questions - are you only an expert in landscape archaeology if you've done a Ph.D in landscape archaeology? Perhaps finds-based archaeologists would only count themselves as 'good...'
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )

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