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Do we need instructors?

Discussion in 'Basic Scuba Discussions' started by gcbryan, Oct 4, 2009.

  1. leapfrog

    leapfrog Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: 40Žº 34'N -3Žº 55'W
    I agree with what you say. My original point was that government gets involved when self regulation fails.

    I obviously didn't express myself clearly enough. I APOLOGIZE. My point was that we are often aware of new equipment developments and training materials simply because by virtue of our work we are involved in conversations with manufacturers before they bring things out on the market. At least that has been my experience. I realise that this may not be a general truth. Thank you for pointing that out.

    In your example, which is a very limited scenario and with which I don't identify, they would still have more experience in teaching all sorts of beginner divers an entry level OW course. The comment "By always being in the position of authority they may succumb to the notion that they "know it all" because they are not challenged by diving with equal or superior skilled divers". is argumentative,compound and assumes facts not in evidence.

    No offense taken but this is speculative.
  2. DaleC

    DaleC Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Leftcoast of Canada
    I don't think it is argumentative as I said "may" and added the last paragraph to explicitly address the fact that I did not hold that view of all instructors.

    This whole discussion assumes facts that are not in evidence as it is purely ancedotal. You add your comments based on personal experience and I add mine. There is no study or empirical evidence that points to the "fact" that one form of instruction is more or less valid than the other. I am aware that my opinions are such and have couched them in a way to show I recognize the fact.

    My experience has been that some instructors taught me to a basic level - with some gaps that became apparent later (based more on course content constraints than anything and I am satisfied with where they took me). This limited education was supplimented by mentorship which both widened and deepened my knowledge base. This mentorship was adequate so that I have been able to bypass several of the specialty classes designed to teach me those skills. Along the way some of my mentors have also been instructors or ex instructors. I am now at the point where I am considering formal instruction again... and so the circle goes.

    I see both as valuable and having their place. The value of each not being in their label but in their ability and desire to impart their knowledge.
  3. leapfrog

    leapfrog Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: 40Žº 34'N -3Žº 55'W

    I understand your point, very well expressed here. As far as I understand this thread, we are discussing whether instructors are needed or not. The mentoring put forward by other people on this thread, tries to make a case for such mentoring by divers who are not instructors.

    Your explantion in this post clearly indicates that you have had basic ow instruction, have been mentored by instructors and non instructors and that you are now considering further instruction to enhance your knowledge and skills.

    It's very common for instructors to continue to mentor their students after OW, if we are not working in a resort location. I'm all for that.

    You can learn a lot from other divers, as it appears you have, without those divers having to be instructors. I'm happy with that. I'm also guilty of having mentored other divers before receiving my instructor rating.

    What I do not agree with is people learning to dive (i.e. OW) without being taught by an instructor. Nor do I agree with mentors replacing other formal training courses (e.g. Rescue) with friendly advice.

    I stand behind my statement that if a mentor wants to teach, then they should go get their professional qualification and insurance to do so.

    There are too many people who are not qualified and certified intruding into the ranks of professional people.
  4. kosap1

    kosap1 Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Florida
    I don't believe that it is a question of insurance or liability. To clarify, yes I have liability insurance, because it is required and because it protects me. BUT, as an instructor I have been taught how to handle different situations. Every student is different and no matter how much confined training or classroom training they have the student may be different in open water.

    Then we come to the money aspect. Lets be honest, it costs a little bit of money to become an instructor. So yes I would like to make some money to cover those costs, my insurance, new gear, etc. However, if you have an instructor that is teaching only for the money then in my opinion they should not be teaching. I teach people to scuba dive. I love teaching people to take part in a sport that I love being a part of.

    A mentor might be right for you, but what happens if they are not prepared for the situation they are presented with. And if you tell me that they should enroll in some sort of "mentor class" is that not basically the same as an "instructor class" that has a different name?

    As an instructor it is a lot of fun for me to mentor friends and past students. But I feel much more comfortable doing so because I know that I have been trained to handle problems that may arise, to rescue them if something goes wrong and most of all, I have the experience that is required of an instructor to actually teach and lead divers.

    I am not saying that I know everything, very far from it. I am saying that I have been trained to deal with common problems that students may encounter while learning to scuba dive. I am constantly learning myself but I feel as though that I am more prepared for the unknown problems that may arise because of my training with my instructors and their constant promotion of further learning.

    So basically, I think its great to have a mentor, I had one in my instructor class and he and I are still really great friends. But when learnign to scuba dive I believe that its best left up to qualified professionals, not that an open water diver can not become an instructor (thats where we all start out).
  5. Thalassamania

    Thalassamania Diving Polymath ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: On a large pile of smokin' A'a, the most isolated
    I am happy to advance that position. In my expereience, a Proficient or Expert diver, selected with the same care that one should expend selecting a diving instructor is likely to do as good (or better) job training an individual in the entry-level diver skills as would a certified diving instructor.
    Somehow, I learned to dive without benefit of an Instructor, just my Dad (who was also a non-diver and a book). Along the way we meet other more experienced divers and picked a few things up from them. After I had been diving for over a dozen years I took an entry level SCUBA course strictly as a social occasion, I had fun but learned nothing. A year later a guy I dove with a lot who was a PADI Instructor certified me as an AI, basically for his convenience. I did all the tests and such, but basically all I learned was about PADI, nothing about diving per se.

    Then I wandered in the Research Diving Course at Cal, were I learned a great deal. But where any of the staff certified diving instructors? Only one, the DSO and I never worked with him. Everything else the I did at Cal, my progression up to a 130 foot card, was all in a mentoring circumstance.

    A few years after that I attended a two week IQC/ITC run by Lee Somers at U Mich. Once again, did I learn anything new about diving? No. Did I learn anything new about instructing diving? No. I learned a bit about NAUI and PADI, that was about it, but I did connect with an important mentor for the rest of my days ... Lee.

    Everything else that I've ever done, NAUI O2 Instructor, DAN O2 Instructor, Gas Blender, Chamber Operator, Mixed Gas Diving, Surface Supplied Diving, Saturation Diving, Rebreathers, DPVs, Submersibles, etc., all of that has been with a mentor model rather than in a classroom situation. Sometime some wrote a card, sometime not; but I think it is safe to say that, basically, over the years I've not learned anything in a formal class conducted by a certified diving instructor. I have learned lots about diving from a series of very capable mentors, some of whom also held instructor credentials (secondary to what they really did in life), some of whom did not, none of whom were what would call "Professional Diving Instructors."

    As far as getting a "professional" qualification, frankly that has nothing to do with your qualifications or your ability, it's like an AOW card, its just an entry credential that permits one to work in a dive operation for way less than they're worth. If someone wants to have fun ... I suggest that they keep their day job and mentor on the side.
  6. leapfrog

    leapfrog Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: 40Žº 34'N -3Žº 55'W
    Kevin, thank you for your useful and interesting post. I am not saying it's a question of liability or insurance, I'm saying that my insurance covers me and my students while I'm teaching them. Anybody who is not a Teaching Status Instructor does not carry this therefore leaving the student unprotected.
    Exactly what I have been saying all along. I'm glad we both agree.

    It also costs money to continue to be an instructor and even more money if you want to do agency crossovers or take further training, all of which are further benefits for our students.
    That's a part time instructor's point of view.
    Teaching people to dive is vocational and obviously if they are only teaching for the money they shouldn't be teaching, just as a doctor who is only in it for the money shouldn't be treating patients. The difference is that if you are an instructor for the money you are also either an idiot or you are one of those rare large LDS owners making megabucks (I've only personally met one). The rest of us are underpaid to the point of it verging on the absurd. The difference is that nobody thinks that it's wrong for almost any other profession to make money but there is a weird taboo about SCUBA Instructors making a decent paycheck. In this sense, as a professional group, we are our own worst enemies.

    I'm not aware that anybody had suggested a mentor classbut I agree that a mentor is more likely to be unprepared for a given situation than an instructor.

    Last edited: Oct 10, 2009
  7. peterbj7

    peterbj7 Dive Shop Owner Rest in Peace

    # of Dives:
    Location: San Pedro, Belize and Oxford, UK
    Too many recreational DMs and Instructors start from a very low personal skill base and add very little to that during training. I constantly see such people at work, and I am sure that many have never had to deal with a real emergency and come out successfully the other side. How can one expect them to be any different, given the very low experience levels required?

    Although I found the system too slow and partial for my taste, the BSAC club system of mentoring AND instruction is IMO the best way to learn quality diving.

    Just my 2p-worth.
  8. DaleC

    DaleC Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Leftcoast of Canada
    Since when do instructors "own" the role of teaching SCUBA anyways? You assume too much with that statement.

    Just because some people banded together and created an agency out of thin air for a sport that already existed, marketed it to the mainstream and created what they thought was a comprehensive training syllabus doesn't mean that they somehow have taken ownership of the sport. This is a basic flaw in your premise. People do have the ability to learn things in non formal settings and have been doing so for ages. There is nothing so special about SCUBA that demands it be sequestered by the professional class.

    I understand that it may be hard to accept for those who have invested in the instructor route. The nature of the beast reinforces a "formal training" paradigm. Acknowledging that mentors can, and do, teach just as well as recognized instructors threatens that paradigm. SCUBA is not the only place where this professional/non professional turf war occurs.
  9. RonFrank

    RonFrank Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Conifer, CO
    Ahh, have to love a complete hypothetical thread based on the laws of... WHAT IF! :D

    I have rarely been asked for a cert card to dive. There are some exceptions, resort destinations for example...ALWAYS want to see certs.

    I most always need a cert card to get air, at least the first fill!

    The industry is largely regulated based on air.

    So what is a Vis? Certainly nothing federally mandated, and certainly not required UNLESS you plan on getting tanks filled at scuba shops. So that is the law... air, and how the industry regulates/enforces certification.

    Honestly IMO the agency classes on OW are IMO good. All the material is presented. They just lack dive time to make a diver safe in the water right away. Mentoring is a BIG part of that next step -or- you can do what I did, and take AOW and OW back to back. By the end of AOW, I was ready to dive with my similar trained buddy. We may have been a bit of a train wreck, but we were safe, and successful.

    I also thank SB, and Marvel, Jennie, and others who took me on my first Ocean dive at LBTS. Good times long ago.
  10. leapfrog

    leapfrog Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: 40Žº 34'N -3Žº 55'W
    I would not have expected less from you. :acclaim:
    You mean in your own particular experience? Could you also explain why a non professional is likely to do as good a job or better as a professional certified diving instructor. I emphasises the word professional because not all divers with an instructor certifiction work as instructors. My sister has a degree in architecture but she would never refer to herself as an architect.

    ...yes? :wink:
    When is your life story going to be made into a blockbuster?
    Sounds totally normal to me but it doesn't make the case why mentors are better than instructors.
    Is that the instructor's fault or the student's?
    Thank God, times have changed.
    AI is about learning about PADI. The knowledge and skill developments are at DM and IE level.

    This is where your own experience departs from the reality of almost everybody else on the Board, Thal. How many of us do you think have been privileged to do a research diving course at place like Cal? When I was a kid, I didn't even know such a thing existed. Of course in the context of your life and experience, certified recreational scuba instructors mean almost nothing. However, it doesn't mean you should go around deriding us, belittling what we do and making a case for people to seek out mentors rather than instructors.

    An ITC/IQC is not designed to teach you anything about diving. You should be proficient before enrolling, which you were.
    That doesn't reflect very well on the Course Director/Instuctor Trainer.
    Who by your own account was a fantastic mentor and a not very good instructor trainer.
    How do you become a DAN O2 Instructor without going through instructor training?
    The fact that you already knew, as did I, most of what they were teaching you, doesn't make their work useless. You're talking about students who have had a previous exposure to all the topics covered, have a wealth of dive experience and are also self learners. I don't pretend to be in your league, Thal, but almost everything I know, I learned reading a book or just doing it. On the other hand I've had instructors who taught me important things. Did they mentor me? Some did and some, to the contrary, would have gained great satisfaction if they'd seen me drop out or give up.
    OK. So we have some experiences in common and some totally different. It still doesn't hold up an argument for eliminating instructors in favor of friendly waving mentors.

    That simply isn't true, I'm sorry. I didn't think very much of most of the people who did the IE with me but the point is that however superior I may have felt towards those people, they did it and got ther card. Frankly, it was a humbling experience.
    No it isn't. There is an independent impartial exam and the candidate has already done DM and an IDC.
    Are you saying that recreational scuba instructors are underpaid or have I misunderstood you?
    You're assuming that we are all capable of doing something else than instructing and that we instruct only for fun... what's wrong with being a professional scuba instructor?

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