Saturday, March 03, 2007


Day 7. You’d think that teachers would make excellent students. After all, they understand the difficulties of running a class and the responsibilities of making sure everyone understands what is being taught, so you’d think they’d be supportive of whoever was trying to teach them. You’d think teachers would have every sympathy with anyone standing up in front of a room, and do whatever they could to put that person at ease. You’d think that teachers would be tolerant of badly written materials and tests and be cooperative with any tasks required in the course of the class.

You’d be wrong.

Teachers make appalling students. We are demanding, impatient, intolerant, and constantly assessing the person disseminating information. We always know a better way to do it, and require that whoever is teaching us be able to answer any question we throw at them clearly, concisely, completely and instantly. We demand that the text be discussed and debated, and take nothing as given unless absolutely clear and logical. We are highly intolerant of badly written exam questions, and query everything.

Or at least I do.

Actually, I’ve been quite well behaved during this course. My fellow students are all scuba instructors, and some of them have gotten a bit shirty from time to time, but for the most part we’ve been attentive and cooperative. Until the exam.

Now I have taken many scuba exams in the course of my studies— the PADI Open Water, Advanced Diver and EAN exams, the BSAC Sports and Dive Leader exams, and the TDI Gas Blending exam—and they are uniformly dreadful. This latest one was the worst. Who cares who took the first pictures of the Andrea Doria? Or what justification a diver might use in removing pieces of a wreck? And whether the ideal team is two “highly skilled” divers or three divers surely depends on the purpose and complexity of the dive, doesn’t it? And how about that question that has one answer in theory but quite a different one when it comes to applying the theory to practice? And then there’s the language used for writing these questions! Grammatical and syntactic errors everywhere – I felt sorry for our German speaker, whose English is text-book perfect, trying to make sense out of some of the bizarrely-worded questions. And to top it all off, the test writers made the classic error of making a number of questions dependent upon previous questions, so that if you make an error anywhere in the chain you’ve blown them all. Throw in the fact that the pass mark is 80%, and you begin to wonder why we put ourselves through these courses.

We all passed, of course. I missed two questions: one piece of trivia which I simply didn’t know and the other which I would have passed in the real world because I know I can’t do simple arithmetic and would have had the formula written on my slate. Even so, poor Sam had a hard forty minutes of it afterwards when we dragged him into the bar and then argued each point with him and with each other.

Well, at least we bought his drinks.

(Pufferfish on Dry Docks, Sabang)



Blogger nzm said...

Congrats on passing the exam.

Onwards and upwards - or for divers, that should read: onwards and downwards and then slowly upwards!

3:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Boring!!!! What do you do when you're not diving?

9:36 PM  
Blogger B3arcat said...

Looks like you are having a good time for a teacher.

3:27 AM  
Blogger Mme Cyn said...

Hey Anon - lots of stuff, but it'll be a dive log for the next six weeks!

9:30 AM  

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