Monday, March 16, 2009

Better Faster Syndrome

Do you suffer from BFS? It is all too common and is treatable. I used to suffer from it and still occasionally have brief popups of it but not anywhere near as much as I used to.

The most common form that still rears its ugly head is in male firearms instructors teaching female students. Be it, husband-wife, father-daughter, boyfriend-girlfriend or professional instructor-student. The "Here little missy, let me get that for you" is unfortunately all to common still. And it is so very wrong then and now!

As an instructor, you are doing your students a disservice as well as showing disrespect for them when you do this. Your job as an instructor is to help the student learn and develop the skills, attitude and confidence to perform a series of functions. If they are learning firearms for self defense, you are not going to be there to do things for them when they are in need so why do it for them in the first place. You should help them through any tasks they are having trouble with but you should make sure they are able to do the task at hand and succeed at it. This last part is very important, if they do not succeed, you have not successfully taught them the skill and they have not developed the self confidence that they can do it when they need to. Even if they need to go home and practice these skills more to gain proficiency, they need to know how to do it properly for themselves before they leave your care and guidance.

There are times that for safety, you need to take control of the gun and get the student back into a safe condition. BUT, it is very important that you explain what happened, why you intervened and what the student needs to do to correct their behavior to complete the skill safely and correctly. Get back on the horse.

It took firearms training to teach this lesson to me and it has transferred into my mild mannered alter ego as well. In my "day" job, I work with professionals from multiple industries as well as under graduate and grad students. There are things the students need to learn to prepare them for life in the real world. However, there are times when for life safety or regulatory reasons, they need to just step back out of the way and let those qualified/certified to accomplish the task at hand do the work. Still, I need to get them pointed in a particular direction and then make sure they can complete the task at hand that is something they can do. With customers, they may know their realm of their product but when it comes to our expertise, that is why they came to us in the first place, so we have to take over. But, we also need to educate them about what it is we do and why we do it so they can understand what is happening and so they can better understand what their widget is doing and why. If they leave with a hand full of data and no understanding of it, we have failed in our job.

In days gone by, I would have quickly become frustrated with the time it was taking the students to do something and I would have just stepped in and done it myself. Not so much any more. Now I will make the time to let them do their thing. Unless for priority or scheduling reasons, I am directed to step in and do it for them.

As a line officer in the fire department, there were often times I felt like jumping in and taking over for the troops on the line. But my job was to stand back and watch for safety issues, communicate, coordinate and direct and make sure they have all the resources they needed to safely do their job. There are times when you just have to trust that the people you have in the position are up to the task and even if they do not do it your way, if they get it done safely and the end result is correct, let them do their job. It's the same with teaching students. Your way may not work for everyone. If you show them your way and with some modification, they can accomplish the same thing safely, let them do it their way.

It all comes back to training. Did they receive proper training that would let them accomplish the task safely and completely. If they had a good instructor, they did and they have the self confidence to know that they can complete the task at hand. That is when you have done your job as an instructor well.

I think this syndrome can be traced back to misplaced chivalry. There was a more civilized time when men did things for women out of respect and reverence. This has been lost as society has pushed for the more sensitive male and it has been perverted with the male superiority complex better known as testosterone poisoning. It happens all the time in more than just teaching but this is where I see it and experienced it most.

No comments:

Post a Comment