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Your Responsibilities as a Student

Discussion in 'Basic Scuba Discussions' started by roturner, Dec 27, 2008.

  1. roturner

    roturner ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Rotterdam, Netherlands, Netherlands
    A lot has been written about the failings of instructors and the failings of agencies to produce quality scuba courses.

    It's time to close the circle and discuss the roll in the student in improving quality.

    I'll start this off but I hope other people will come with their own insights as well. Try to keep the thread positive by giving each other suggestions about how to improve your performance in diving classes.

    1. You can lead a person to knowledge but you can't make them think

    There are a few aspects to learning theory where students often could do with some self reflection

    a) If you don't understand something..... SAY that you don't understand it. We ALL know that diving classes involve correcting the things that you *don't* understand but still some students will try to hide the things they don't know or even get irritated with you as instructor for asking "control" questions to see if students get it and can put the knowledge into practice..... Case in point. When the instructor asks you WHY you learn how to fill up your BCD orally and you really don't know then the correct answer is NOT "who cares"...... (yes I really HAVE had a student give me that answer.....)

    b) If you disagree with something the instructor says then mention it. Many students in diving classes have expertise in areas the instructor does not. Some are doctors, some are engineers, some may have read stuff on the internet that doesn't correspond to what the instructor is saying.... Instead of keeping quiet about it.... Talk about it. Differences of insight/opinion sometimes lead to good learning opportunities for students AND for instructors alike. Don't be passive. Get involved.

    c) Do your home work. Every instructor has stories about students who either refuse to do their home work or come to class completely unprepared..... These students hold back EVERYONE by asking questions about stuff that they obviously didn't read. Coming to class unprepared inexcusable but it happens a LOT. Not surprisingly, the students who don't bother preparing also have trouble remembering the stuff and will eventually go on an internet forum and blame their instructor for that. Realistically, teh only idiotic thing an instructor can do about this is to tolerate it.

    d) If you need time then you need time. Some students just don't get the theory right away for one reason or another. If you need more help ask for it. Your instructor is generally going to be open to doing whatever it takes for you to understand 100% of the theory. Moreover, in some systems, like the PADI system, the instructor is required by standards to make sure you understand everything. Don't be afraid to study a little harder if you need to. Writing about this on scubaboard is probably preaching to the choir about it because if you're here you're not the student I'm talking about... but maybe you are sitting NEXT to the student I'm talking about and can help them but encouraging him to put in the extra effort.

    The general point in this being that YOU GET OUT WHAT YOU PUT IN.

    2. You learn diving by doing

    Talking about diving is one thing. But there is only one way to learn diving and that's to DO it.

    Many diving courses are one some kind of a time line. The instructor has to deal with this time line but YOU as a student have to deal with this time line too. How?

    a) If you need more time to learn a skill, ASK for it. Instructors often have more options available to them than you might know about for giving students extra time in the water. The instructor may not think you need it but the DISCUSSION is import and signalling to the instructor when you do and DON'T feel confident with something is important.

    b) Pay attention. Who is in the lead? ..... the instructor. Your roll as student is to ALLOW the instructor to teach you. Often the most difficult students to teach in the water are ones who are used to things coming easy. They want to do everything right the first time and get frustrated with themselves and with the instructor if it isn't working. In the worst cases, they get so wrapped up in their own minds that they are unable to listen and unable to follow directions entirely and literally block themselves off from the ability to learn. In extreme cases students will even do weird things. I've seen a student decide 1/2 way through a check-out dive that he had seen enough and he just left... surfaced without telling anyone and started swimming back to shore.... Fortunatlely for him the AI very nearly harpooned him for not keeping his mind on what he was supposed to be doing. Relax, have fun and LET the instructor teach you ....

    c) don't waste time. Part of a diving course (at least a good one) is to push you a bit so you will bump up against your boundaries. Some people will experience that with clearing the mask. For others it might be about feeling comfortable in the dark.... who knows. The point is on the one hand to talk about your experience with your instructor and on the other hand to learn and to integrate these "comfort zones" into your diving. If the instructor asks you how the dive was and you felt scared in the dark and say "it was great" then you're wasting time. If you say "Dude... it was freaky down there in the dark" then you're going to get MUCH better instruction.

    The point being, once again.... What does IN is what comes OUT.

    Of COURSE instructors have a responsibility is "reading" you as a student and giving you what you need. There are many threads about that and some of the sharpest criticisms of other instructors and agencies will come from instructors themselves.

    This point is not to be ignored but *this* thread is not about moaning about "lousy" instructors or lousy students. Let's work together to get some ideas out there for how You as a student can contribute positively to the quality of your own instruction.

    I've started off giving a couple of ideas. Who else has some ideas that we can all use to improve our performance as students?

    The floor is yours.

  2. TSandM

    TSandM Missed and loved by many.

    # of Dives:
    Location: Woodinville, WA
    For me, one of the key things about getting the most out of instruction is to THINK while the material is being taught. I take the ideas, roll them around in my head, look at them from different directions, compare them with other things I know . . . and what comes out is questions. During my Cave 1 class, I asked about 95% of the questions that were asked by anybody. I may have driven the instructor a little nuts, but I think all three of us got a better educational experience for my having done it. And I ask the stupid questions, too -- I figure if I'm confused about something, chances are somebody else is, too.

    It's all too easy to play bucket -- sit there and let somebody pour stuff in, and hope you'll digest it later. All too often, you forget what you didn't understand the first time, and the digestion never really gets done.
  3. roturner

    roturner ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Rotterdam, Netherlands, Netherlands
    About asking questions:

    I remember sitting in a lecture in at the university in advance Calculus. (I know I told you that Math was my worst subject--and it was--but not how much of I had to suffer through).

    At one point the professor asked "Who doesn't understand this" and nobody responded.

    Then he asked "who is SITTING near someone who doesn't understand" and every hand in the room went up.....

    The only stupid question is the one that goes unasked.....

  4. roturner

    roturner ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Rotterdam, Netherlands, Netherlands
    Nobody wants to discuss this? I'm a little surprised....
  5. shugar

    shugar Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Manila, Philippines
    i'm not going to contest it... i'm a teacher myself (not a dive instructor though... soon i hope)

    and if there's one thing that truly pisses me off are students who say they understand or get something and 2 minutes later they're either a) doing it wrong or b) asking something you already said...

    sometimes i hearken back to the days when it was proper for teachers to slap their students upside the head... because in many many cases students need a good slapping upside their heads...

  6. El Orans

    El Orans ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: The Netherlands
    Oh, I'm happy to discuss this but I don't really have anything to add to it.

    Having been both, I agree that students as well as instructors have a responsibility here.
  7. ZenDiver.3D

    ZenDiver.3D Rejecting Reality ScubaBoard Sponsor ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives:
    Location: Kuwait, but home is Savannah, Georgia
    As a teacher and a dive instructor, I have some expectations that I clearly tell my students before each class or school year.

    I expect you to:

    1. Come to class on time and ready to learn. I want an active participant in my class, not someone who just sucks up the air in the room. You will get out of my class the exact amount you put in.

    2. This class is FOR YOU. I already know all this stuff. You are the one who needs to say,"Back up," when you are unsure and need different explanation. I will ALways take the time to help you master the material, but I have to know that you are fuzzy. If you are, others may be too.

    3. Diving is not a fast food restaurant. You cannot think that you will pull up, pay, and I will deliver your certification. You will have to work for it. In the classroom, the pool, and the sea. I will never let you down, and I expect you to give it your best shot.

    4. I am your instructor. I will certify you in whichever class you take, if you pass all tests, and skills, AND I think you have mastered the course. I will not guarantee that you will get certified. I won't play with your life by just giving you a cert card because you paid and showed up. If you get certified by me, you WILL be a solid diver, capable of being my daughter's dive buddy. If I won't trust you with my child, I won't let you dive on my certification.

    Now, If you do all of the above, you will be a safe, confident independent diver, who can problem solve and be a good buddy. You will have good buoyancy control, be able to perform all emergency and mask skills, in any situation, and you will Know that. You will be a good navigator and be comfortable with your equipment. There are many more things that will set you apart from the typical new diver, because you worked and earned the skills. I have had people finish my course in 1 week(we were all on vacation and had all days free), and I have had people take 3 months. No student is the same. I will treat you as an individual and you will give 100%. And we will have a blast in the process.

    Some don't want to do this, and they are welcome to find someone else more to their liking. Most all else, do just fine and don't let me or themselves down.
  8. Jim Lapenta

    Jim Lapenta Dive Shop

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Canonsburg, Pa
    As student you will also be responsible for having the materials required for the class. With me all of it is spelled out in a learning agreement that both if us will sign. Do not show up with personal gear from Dick's or Walmart and expect to be able to use it.

    I actually had one person show up for class with a PADI OW book they got off ebay and wonder why I told him it was not going to be used in this YMCA class. The learning agreement specifies which reading materials are acceptable and required as well as recommendations for supplemental material. Where you get them I don't care.

    I'll also reiterate that when we schedule times it is not along the lines of 5-ish. 5 o'clock means 5. 4:45 is more than acceptable! 5:15 is not. And again payment is a guarantee of training-not certification. You must meet all the agency requirements and my requirements to EARN a card.

    ALso just because your brother, dad, sister, mom, first cousin's baby sitters uncle are certified and say it's easy does not mean this sport is for you. You must be comfortable in the water, you MUST KNOW HOW TO SWIM, and you must be willing to put the effort in to get this material I will be presenting to you down. My course is set up to allow you to absorb the material and practice skills over and over. I do not and by standards cannot teach a quickie course.

    You also understand that once you have been shown how to set up your equipment no one will do it for you. By the time we get to open water you will also know how much weight you will approximately need and how to figure it out. Before we do our first dive you'll check this and adjust your weights under supervision of course, but you will do it.

    You will have and keep a logbook that will list the ususal items- depth, time, air pressure, temps, etc. Along with this you'll record the skills you did, how much weight you used, the type and thickness of exposure protection, and you'll use your tables to calculate your pressure groups. I and your assigned buddy will sign the logs for these dives. What you do afterwards is your business but when diving as a student with me a completed log of the dives is required by me. This tells me you understand what we did in the classroom and can do it on your own. Your skills and knowledge directly reflect back on my abilities and I will not turn loose an unsafe diver or one who cannot do the things it takes to plan and execute dives in conditions similar or better than what you trained in. You will also learn to exercise good judgement and know when to call a dive.
  9. no excuses

    no excuses Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Rainier OR
    Great thread, my gf is going for her basic OW cert. pool and class room work next weekend, I have her keeping up on this thread so she will not just sit there "like a bucket" lol. I do not know which of us is more excited about her getting certified, lol.
  10. String

    String Master Instructor

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Grand Cayman
    Main thing for a student is never put 100% trust in an instructor. There are some things you can do which he CANNOT help you get out of. So common sense, listen and think.

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