In a recent blog post titled Skepticism and Denial , Seth Godin shared an important message for trainers:
Skepticism is a virtue. It requires a willingness to question conventional wisdom, and the guts to accept something after you discover that it’s actually true.
Denialism, on the other hand, is a willful rejection of reality. It’s safe and easy, and unproductive. Because there’s no room to change your mind.
A level of skepticism is valuable for trainers as you need to be willing to question conventional wisdom when it comes to training techniques, tactics, and methodologies.
“It is a healthy thing now and then to hang a question mark on things you have long taken for granted.”
A healthy level of skepticism will allow you to hang a question mark on things you have long taken for granted. It will also allow you to have the guts to accept when you discover that the evidence and research do not support your current way of teaching and training. When that happens you also need to have the guts to change your training. Sadly, denialism is alive and well in the training world.
A healthy level of skepticism will also allow you to question the claims of trainers and training organizations who claim that a particular system, a new program they just developed based on the hot topic of the day or a specific style of martial arts will solve all the problems facing the law enforcement profession. The challenges facing the profession are complex and multi layered. No program or system has all the answers. You need to have a hard look at the training content and the background of the trainers before investing time, money, and energy, all of which are limited commodities.
As a trainer you should encourage the participants in your courses to be skeptical and ask questions instead of blindly accepting your statements as gospel. When you are a student in a course, bring a healthy level of professional skepticism to the training. Ask questions, seek clarification, then follow up and test the material and check the references and supporting documentation. Professional skepticism does not mean yelling at the instructor, trying to embarrass the instructor or stating, “this is “f_ _ _ king bullshit”, all of which I have encountered from fellow trainers. Professional skepticism is asking intelligent questions to seek understanding of the material; theirs, and yours.
Be wary however, of letting your healthy skepticism turn into unhealthy cynicism. This is a slippery slope and easy to go down. If you reach that point you need to reassess your frame of mind or get the hell out of training.
Maintain your healthy skepticism and have the courage to hang a question mark on things we have all taken for granted.
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