While on vacatoin somewhere warm (a “must do” in January when you live in Minnesota) I was coerced into taking SCUBA diving lessons. For those of you who have learned to SCUBA dived you probably started the way I did by taking the Resort Course. It includes instruction and actual hands-on use of the SCUBA equipment in the swimming pool, taking about 2.5 hours. Then, later in the day you go out for an actual open water 45 minute dive!
SCUBA diving is a wonderful experience, but can be extremely dangerous. As a safety professional, I was curious how the training would progress. My instruction was by a Professional Association of Dive Instructors (PADI) certified instructor. He was terrific, but so was the PADI diving guide that he used in the course.
First, PADI requires a complete health history and paperwork that makes it abundantly clear that you are responsible for your own safety, and that SCUBA diving is potentially deadly! Only after you sign the contract with PADI, agreeing to accept very specific responsibilities, does the instruction begin.
PADI has created a flip-chart for use by the instructor and requires its use during the training. This not only helps the instructor make sure all information is covered properly, but helps the students as well. Very clear objectives are given at the beginning, and the instructor checked to make sure that they are understood. This was followed by learning about water pressure and depth as it affects the human body, and what you must do while diving to minimize these affects. The instruction continued with a discussion and demonstration of the SCUBA equipment, and discuss of its actual use. We finished this part by discussing underwater communication signs, and then taking a short test. If you don’t pass you don’t get to go on!
Now it’s time to go into the pool and don the SCUBA gear. Here you learn to clear your mask of water, how to find and replace the regulator if you ever need to, the use of the bouancy vest, and how to swim using the gear (very heavy!!!). The instructor demonstrated each task and then asked each participant to show they can do it as well. When their was need, he would stop, go to the surface, re-instruct and then have the student go back under water and try again. It was really simple instruction, and done quite effectively. PADI wants to make sure that everyone understands the hazards of open water diving, their personal responsibilities, and then learns how to dive safely. To almost guarantee it, they have created a very complete learning system.
Later that day we went to sea. The dive was very controlled, but not so much so that you didn’t have fun. The under-sea world is really beautiful, and PADI wants to make sure you enjoy learning about that as well. As a safety training professional, I really enjoyed the PADI learning experience. My congratulations to PADI for a job well done. Thanks to Nigel, our PADI certified instructor!
The lesson here is to clearly define and communicate the learning objectives, make sure everyone understand the real dangers involved, and keep you instruction simple. The tried and true method of teaching, “Tell, Show, Observe and Coach” really works!