There are thousands of diving Instructors in the world and many are excellent while a lot unfortunately are just not very good. So why is this ? What makes a good Instructor and what makes a bad one ? Surely dive organisations ensure the quality of their Instructors and Divemasters with all providing the same standard of education ? You only have to watch some Instructors teaching or the people they have taught diving to see that not everyone teaches to the same standards with some being sub standard and even dangerous in some cases.
A dive centre is only as good as it's staff and it's Instructors. It does not matter which diving agencies they represent it is the quality of the Instructor alone that will teach a diver well and be able to professionally educate divers on all aspects of scuba diving. A good Instructor will produce good divers with good habits, a bad one will do the opposite and possibly lose their students from diving altogether. So what happens to the students and Divemasters that a poor Instructor teaches ? Indeed the Divemasters they certify themselves then they go out and pass on more bad habits to more students !
This is a problem in our industry today. There are too many below par so called professionals who believe they know everything and then teach students and more professionals to their standards, many go and open a brand new Dive Centre with this limited knowledge and ability. As they say there are qualified Instructors and then there are Instructors, the exact same applies to Divemasters.
So what makes a poor Instructor ? How can this be allowed to happen and how does it continue ? As divers we all know and have seen poor instruction and on every dive site we have all visited there are always a high percentage of sub standard divers who have all been taught by someone !
There are a number of issues that affect the quality of Instructors and Divemasters including;
- Poor Instructor and Dive Centre that taught the Instructor
- Limited previous diving experience
- No team teaching on a number of courses with experienced Instructors
- No 'new Instructor initiative' for gaining experience
- Poor quality Divemaster and Instructor course
- Poor problem solving
- Lack of teaching skills
- Lack of confidence due to poor diving knowledge
- Has no full understanding of what is required within the role
This unfortunately can only affect the students and divers that they come into contact with.
Good, experienced Instructors that have been trained from a good solid diving background are worth their weight in gold. A good Instructor will have;
- Excellent tuition from very experienced Instructors within an established Dive Centre
- A very broad base of diving knowledge
- A good number of dives and a range of dive experience in various environments
- Excellent problem solving
- Diverse diving qualifications
- Completed a number of team teaching courses to ensure full competence
- Good teaching skills
- Confident diver with exceptional in water skills
- Excellent safety and standards awareness
- Experience !
Another big point to remember is that as with diver qualifications an Instructor is only an Instructor in the dive environments they are experienced with. For example someone who has only dived and taught in the warm waters of Thailand in shorts, no weights and a tshirt will not be experienced to dive and teach in UK waters and a dry suit. There should be some orientation here until competence in the new environment is reached.
The main issue seems to be that new Instructors do not have or are not willing to take any opportunities to team teach with more experienced Instructors. Some maybe believe that once they have qualified there is nothing more to learn and do not wish to gain actual hands on experience. Some who wish to gain experience perhaps also cannot understand why they cannot get paid employment while achieving this. Indeed it is known that 70-80% of all Instructors never certify a new diver and many are used by Dive Centres to do other duties due to their lack of knowledge. Many are used as 'resort' Instructors doing pool demo's and giving kids try dives. This leads to many leaving the industry before being able to gain the experience required to be a good all round dive professional.
There are so many Instructors and Divemasters that come to our Centre for work and they quickly realise that getting qualified is just the start. The advertising by the agencies depict this wonderful lifestyle and they can work anywhere in the world just by becoming a diving Instructor. If they don't want to work as a poor Instructor or a dogsbody for poor pay but want to become a good Instructor, then the only way is to work alongside a good Dive Centre with good Instructors, be patient and gain the necessary experience.