Training programs should be an evolution that takes place over many years. As training progresses new drills, exercises and scenarios get added to existing programs. Too often however, detailed documentation outlining the reason behind the drills, the learning objectives, the nuances and key teaching points does not exist. This happens for a variety of reasons such as time demands, lack of knowledge concerning creation of Course Training Standards and Lesson Plans, etc.
As a result when new instructors come along they simply continue to teach what has ‘always been taught’ because that is what they know. Through no fault of their own they do not have the historical knowledge concerning the rationale behind the drill or scenario. Over time instructor drift makes it way into the program and slight alterations on the delivery and / or content work their way into drills and scenarios.
The result is that the drill moves away from it’s original intent and instead of serving a very specific purpose, as all drills must do, it simply becomes something that is just part of the curriculum.
If someone was to come in and audit your training and ask you the learning objectives and intent behind every drill you do would you know the answer? I have asked this question of many trainers and have often received the answer “Well we have always done it as part of the program.” or “I don’t know. I think it might be to…..” Either of these answers are a reflection of a breakdown in the mentoring process and both are inappropriate.
As professional instructors we all need to ask more questions of ourselves and our fellow instructors. We need to continually step back and objectively review our own training programs. Sometimes it is helpful to have someone come in from the outside to simply observe and ask questions. If we do not know the reason behind a drill we are doing a disservice to our officers to simply guess and keep on running the same drills. We need to seek to find out what the history is and why the drill was implemented in the first place. If we cannot determine this information then we must take a step back and ask ourselves what purpose the drill currently serves. You need to objectively determine what learning occurs during the drill. If you say that no learning occurs, then go back and look again. learning always occurs. The question is are they learning what you want them to?
If, in its current state, the drill serves no useful purpose then determine if the drill needs to be eliminated, replaced with something more appropriate or simply reworked.
We can no longer afford to continue to teach something just because we have always taught it. Training time is at a premium so you must make every minute of it count. You owe it to your officers and their families to make sure that everything you do in your program is done with the goal to improve their competence and confidence.