The Thin Blue Line
Art of instructing different group of diving enthusiasts remains a bit of a mystery. Although most skills for are somewhat similar, it is apparent that either quality or standard varies not only from different agency perspectives but rather on how one would experience during times spent with particular case by individuality of professional personnel and each instructor.
Whilst being on-board for another group, two near-missing divers in an out-of-air incident on their way back from the surface asked if it was responsibility of theirs or the factual truth of inappropriate dive leads and the control of the certifying instructor and his assistant. Their story seem to mesh. Before the dive they agreed that they already spent time for common understandings and point making. What else did they do or not do enough? There is an existential quality which the diver themselves expresses. "Why did we go loose and not being taking care of during just our second dive? It ends with a dramatization of the complaining throughout the certifying trip along with sudden interrupts on their long-expecting experience. For that trip one diver was clearly upset and did not continue diving nor wish to be further certified.
If we ask 100 divers what makes a good instructor, we get 100 different answers. So, what makes the difference between good and poor dive instructing towards dive leading experience? The question still lies deep in subjectivity.
During training secession, patience is major factor that will make the difference between a student feeling rushed & ashamed or confident that an instructor is making good progress. Differences between the various instructors have been vast. From verging on incompetent to amazing, the main difference being tolerance and acceptance to different skills and ability of students. Although important, is not always the greatest yard-stick. The ability to listen to questions, understand and address student concerns are the main things next to being able to categorize individual class accordingly to their ability, not instructor’s personal agenda.
Whilst leading a dive teaching discipline turn professional focus towards customer service and skills. A good dive lead is a good teaching still. He should answer any questions divers have no matter how weird they sound.
Instructors who's had way more than hundreds of dive guarantee no direct connection between quality teaching and leading a good dive. Some instructors with just reasonable of dive logs, while wet behind the ears, sticklers for safety, skills, buoyancy and quite idealists put on one excellent open water class, provide student with satisfaction together with safe skills, and they remain just as great through the years.
Conditions and locations that an instructor dives and teaches are also significant. One could do great in a pool, and the other way round experiencing in the water. Thailand or South East Asia are not global when it comes to dive specialty. This day you could easily go the Japan for ice diving or Southern Thailand to do an unexpectedly amazing shore dive an instructor may have never had experience apart from what regular selling trips they have on hands. Nevertheless, instructing a dive is nothing near being an expert. It would be an arrogant trait if one claim being certified instructor is sufficient. Regardless of years in experience (in teaching or leading a trip) instructor still needs to put on a very demanding class, of course, with every student, fine tuning relevant teaching style.
The best way to learn and to teach is, to dive. Teaching materials are there in the ocean not the fancy books. Good instructors add those material in relation to different topics that they lecture.
Once we hear "Congratulations, you are a certified instructor", wouldn't it be prudent to also say, "You are now unleashed upon a new world of learning”
Being certified is a start, be qualified is continuing effort and will never be finished.
Because Instructor is a verb, not a noun.
..as simple as that.
The Author is PADI IDC Staff Instructor