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Monthly Archives: July 2012
Once again, I got the opportunity to teach another Open Water course this weekend. Ruth, Dia and Natalie are now welcome into the wonderful world of Scuba Diving. And once again I cannot fail to be impressed by way that the Open Water course structure builds confidence and ability so very quickly.
To me, the most impressive proof of this ability is the Free Descent without Reference and hover at the beginning of Dive 4. This is so very impressive! At the beginning of the weekend, it would seem to be an impossible dream to imagine that in just a couple of dives these Students would be able to control their descent without any reference, and then hover motionless - at will – until they want to settle on the bottom. Actually I find it very emotional to see that control so soon.
But once again, (like last week) I am aware that these Students are not yet competent divers. Again like last week, I find that the course has taught them that their skills are fine and buoyancy excellent, but like new car drivers who have discarded their L plates, they have an awful lot to learn.
I really hope that I get the chance to teach them a specialty course or two very soon to help with their development. The next few dives are very important to them. If they just “dive with friends” there is a chance that they will develop some bad habits. At this impressionable stage, any bad habit will quickly establish and be very difficult to shift later.
But Thinking about the progression of divers has brought up another question. This question has been brought to my attention from a Dive Instructor in Ascencion Island that I have recently taught. It’s about continuation of skill practice. We all know that if a diver has not dived for a while, they should do a Scuba Review. They will then revisit and practice the major mask, regulator, buoyancy and rescue skills. But what if my new divers don’t have a break in diving? what if they don’t ever need to do a Scuba Review?
My friend in Ascencion Island was recently diving with an experienced diver. For some reason, it was suggested that they swapped masks underwater. The experienced diver had a minor panic, and had to surface to replace the mask. How can we make sure that our divers continue to be competant?
I suppose that the only answer is that new divers should be encouraged to continue to practice their skills. How many of you can still Parallel Park your car? or Reverse around a corner with the same amount of skill that you used on your Driving test? I would urge Dive Centres to organise skill practice sessions to their customers. As a Course Director, I often hear from IDC Candidates that skills like “Cesa” and “Remove and Replace Scuba Unit” came as a bit of a shock on the DM course because they had not practiced those since Open Water days.
Again we had a fantastic weekend. Janet and I have finished teaching a PADI Open Water course. We had 4 wonderful students, that are now ready to discover the wonderful world that most of us Divers live in. They all have trips booked abroad for later this summer.
As a Platinum PADI Course Director, my time is usually spent teaching people on how to TEACH the Open Water course, and it’s not that often that I get the chance to be at the “Coal Face” and teach the course myself.
Over the past 2 weekends I have experienced what a lot of Instructors are getting involved with on a regular basis, and I am very aware of the immense importance of this course both to the Instructor and to the Students.
By far, the Open Water Course is the toughest course in the whole PADI system. Both for the Instructor and the Students. For the Student, it’s a massive learning curve, from a total beginner to reaching Entry Level. I have often been amazed that the Dive Industry regularly gives Brand New Instructors the task to teach an Open Water course for their first assignment.
This is very unfair to all parties, the Customer who has paid good money to dive, deserves better than to have a new Instructor “practice” on them, and the Instructor deserves to be “broken in” by teaching easier courses, like specialties, Advanced Open Water or even Rescue Diver. All of these courses are easier to teach and have a lower liability than the Open Water Course.
As far as the Open Water course itself is concerned, I’m still amazed at how effective it is. Us PADI Instructors can be very proud that we have such an efficient product to teach. However, I have a couple of personal views on how it can be enhanced by the Instuctor.
These are fairly minor, but can make a more proficient diver very quickly.
One is with buoyancy. The course is structured very well, but the Instructor can ensure perfection quickly by using a couple of tricks..
One is Ditch the Fin Pivot! quickly!! I’m amazed that Instructors are still teaching Fin Pivots even though the Performance Requirement changed a couple of years ago. Instead of Fin Pivots, just get your students to rise and fall with every breath while on their knees.. you’ll be surprised how many students will hover.. on confinded dive 3, without even knowing what a hover is!
The other thing that can improve buoyancy is to keep the student moving while underwater throughout the whole course. Every time a student moves from one place to another, they are practicing buoyancy. As the course moves on, more skills can be completed while the student is either buoyant, or semi – buoyant. It all helps!
Another observation is with monitoring Nitrogen absorbtion and release. Now PADI has the option of teaching with the Computer, I belive that we should ditch the RAT, ditch RDP Tables 1, 2 and 3.. and concentrate on making sure that divers know how a computer works. The Computer simulator available from PADI website with the code from “How to use and choose Computers” is brilliant, and much more relevant for the modern diver.
Just one more small matter. During the Knowledge Development session 1, we learn about Boyles Law.. I would just like to see an example of how to apply that law to SAC rates.
There is a question in the final exam about breathing rates at depth, but I think that it would help if the Instructor would just spend one minute during Knowledge Review in giving an example of how to calculate the different breathing rates at different depths.
These are just my observations.. But from my point of view, I have had the most wonderful time over the last two weekends. I have been privileged to have 4 very capable students, however, I’m very aware that as marvellous as the PADI Open Water Course is, it has NOT taught my enthusiastic Divers to “Dive” It has taught them how to behave in the water, their buoyancy is fantastic, all of their skills are excellent; but they now need to apply those skills. The next few dives that they make are crucial to their short time development. I’m truly hoping that I get the chance to teach a Specialty Course or two to them before they travel. This will take them a lot closer to their goal of being a competant Scuba Diver.
They should be very proud of their acheivements.
P.S. During this Open Water Course, I applied all of the “Accelerated Learning” techniques that I teach on our Beyond Instructor Course, or our Staff Instructor Course. Contact me for more details. Steve.
I have had the most wonderful Weekend!
I spend most of my life passing on great techniques to PADI IDC Candidates on how to teach an efficient and effective Open Water Course. But I don’t often get the chance to teach Open Water Courses myself.
Over the last weekend, I have had that very chance! Janet and I have been teaching all Class and Confined sections of an Open Water course to Nikki, James, Warren and Maria.
I was delighted to proove to myself that everything that I teach on IDCs is not just theory! The proof is in the pudding they say! All 4 candidates had a lot of fun, and learnt very very quickly. They soon got used to the environment underwater, and by using the methods that we know to work well Janet and I helped them to discover themselves how to master the skills.
We enjoyed 5 hours of pool time over the weekend, the last 30 mins was just “Playtime” for the team, as they practiced the new skills that will change their lives forever.
We are headed for Open Water next weekend, I can’t wait to share the new experience with them. It will be a lot of fun and laughter.