FROM THE TRAINER: what is the "teach"?
Learning is an interesting thing. Very often we think of it as a “linear” process that we control completely. Picture a destination on a map, at some distance. The place we are heading is our goal, the reason that we embark on the journey, but it’s the journey that will change us most. The journey is the “teach”. This is where we will most change ourselves, where we will learn the things that we didn’t intend.
The same is true of skill development. Something that we are likely guilty of saying too much is: “Be careful what you enshrine in training, it becomes your skill.” What we mean by that is what we do, actually do… is what our system records, what we get “better” at. Intention is necessary but means little to your biology.
Here is a handy example that happens a lot. New holsters often come with problems. Not necessarily in the material, but in the user interface. A user will stutter or bobble the draw growing accustomed to the new retention device or position. Some users will move through the problem quickly while others will still be struggling long after they should have figured the new (and simple) mechanism out.
What separates the two? The user that retains the problem has taught themselves a new process. They have quite literally added the error as a step and it’s what they do…it became the “teach” and it’s what they learned.
If you asked that student what they learned, their answer would not be “an error in my draw.” It would likely be something akin to the destination city mentioned above: an intention. It would probably mirror the broad objectives of whatever the class was designed to cover or impart.
So how do we go about using this to our advantage? What’s the tip here?
First: We must understand how we learn. We aren’t necessarily talking about the differences in auditory or visual learning styles (though valid), we are saying that what we DO is what we become better at. Intention is an impetus… but it isn’t the journey. It’s the long “walk” to where we are going that changes us, develops us. This is the “why” behind repetition. Your body is always seeking ways to conserve capacity and energy. What you do most (good or bad) your system rewards with efficiency.
Second: We have to question everything. When we are learning or teaching we ask ourselves: What is the learn, what is the teach? Not what we intend to learn or teach but what are we actually doing.
Take post engagement procedures (threat scanning) as an example. What’s the teach? Very likely we are teaching the student that every time they look (quickly) to the left and right after they shoot their gun… there’s nothing there. That’s the “learn”.
This seems like it’s not a real problem until you add the vagaries of deep stress and you remember that you lose your glasses on your head and your wallet right in front of you (with uncomfortable frequency).
Look deeply into what you are doing when you train. The smallest details can matter. Make sure the journey supports the destination. It’s entirely possible to do something that moves you away from your goal. Slow down, give it some thought. If something emerges in your process, ask yourself why it happened. Fix it. What you DO is what you learn.
Until next time. Train smart.
Duane “Buck” Buckner
After spending 25 years in the USCG, Duane “Buck” Buckner is now the U.S. Director of Training for Aimpoint. The Aimpoint Training Division conducts training courses for military and law enforcement agencies up to the Federal level as well as for the prepared civilian. Buck is widely known for his emphasis on brain psychology as it relates to combat and survival.
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Posted by Duane Buckner, Aimpoint US Director of Training on Sep 13th 2022