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CFI teaching philosophy on ground instruction.


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I am towards the very end of my CFI training. In order for the chief pilot of my school to sign me off he wants me to do further ground evaluation with another CFI, who is not my original CFI, to see how my ground instruction is.

 

Ok, fine.

 

It seems this new CFI has a different philosophy on how ground should be taught compared to my first CFI.

 

With my original instructor I was taught to explain things in a steady pace. Kind of at the pace of the creation of the Earth as read from the bible; "And on the first day God created the light and darkness..." etc (I think you get my point). I was taught this should be done even with the topics of Aerodynamics and Weather. The idea being that the student should have read the material already (which we ALL know does not always happen).

 

This new CFI who is evaluating me thinks the opposite. And I tend to agree. He believes you should EXPLAIN topics like aerodynamics, weather and aircraft systems in detail because they are very important. Particularly aerodynamics.

 

I have great respect for my first CFI. That is why I am here. It leads me to wonder what benefit is to be gained from just giving the basics of topics, like aerodynamics and such. I have heard the "move things along" philosophy (for lack of a better term) from several people whom I respect.

 

 

Me personally, I would like to explain certain topics such as aerodynamics and weather. Regulations can be less so, in my opinion.

 

I just wanted to get some feedback from those who have been there or are there.

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Personally, I think you will find different students are going to need a different techniques and will also have different amounts of education to draw there anwers from. Some will soak up the aerodymanics stuff as quickly as you can feed it to them, but when it comes to weather, you may have to spoon feed them.

 

I am not an aviation instructor, but do teach/instruct various topics on the fire side, and you can tell when a student is able to comprehend and understand the material verses just regurgitating the informing with no indepth subject knowledge.

 

But remember, the ultimate goal to have the student pass the written and oral examinations. If the student does his/her job of reading the material, its up to you and the student to find a way to cover the subjects. You as the CFI are going to have to determine if the student knows the information and then you can move on to another subject. Maybe one methodology is to review the subject matter that was assigned the student to read at home, and if the students gives you decent answers and seems competent, then move on. If the student is lacking certain parts in the Q & A, then back up and cover the material in more detail.

 

Hope this helps and this is how my ground instructor performed his magic with me! I think two major qualities all instructors need is patience and understanding and my hat is off to the good ones out there that have these sometimes rare qualities!

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Different students and different topics will require different approaches. I'm a student now, but have done some teaching (CPR, first aid, and science stuff). The most useless thing is reading to a student, followed closely by explaining something to the student when he already knows it (but you're not paying attention enough to notice). That last part is hard, because sometimes you really want to talk about something because you think it's so cool, and you get disappointed when your student doesn't need it....

 

With CPR and first aid, I'd come in with a hear-me, tell-me, show-me plan. The hear-me part you have to adjust to your student's base knowledge and preparation (and with CPR, their interest or motivations). CPR it was necessary to lecture about all the basics in some detail--how things work, what you do, why you do it. Flight students shouldn't need much of this, because their home study should be giving them the base...but it's so easy to fall behind on the books. Still, some concepts I think flight students need to make a good attempt at figuring out at home, because they aren't really going to get it no matter how brilliant your explanation. For the guy who just doesn't know how to study, I'd plant the seed, give them a specific take-home problem (next time you walk in here I want you to tell me why the R22 has an underslung rotor system), and send them home rather than dragging them through one lengthy explanation after another (and remember, attention spans for adults top out around 45 minutes for the best of us). Anyway, with this part i tried to start basic (heart-brain-blood-lungs), ask some questions (what does the brain need, how does it get it), assess the student's knowledge and needs, then adjust my level of detail and speed. Fill-in-the-blank lecturing is good for this--keeps the student engaged, and you get feedback on what you need to go more in-depth about.

 

What i end up doing with my flight instructors starts with the tell-me phase. They quiz me on all the topics for the lesson, and i can define and usually apply those concepts. Here's the phase where you identify things the student thinks he knows but doesn't, you explain what they don't understand, and you need to be prepared to switch back to the hear-me phase if they just say they don't know. "Tell me about..." works well here, and as an instructor i'm mostly providing feedback and making adjustments. CPR it was practicing the individual techniques (you know, compressions vs artificial respirations vs airway obstructions...), with the students telling me what they are doing as they do it. This part helps them phrase the knowledge in terms they'll understand.

 

Show-me is putting the concepts to practice. For flight training, i don't think you can do this and the first two phases in the same session, and (obviously) lots of it comes during dual. Back to my CPR experience, at this phase I'm testing all the skills the student has learned ("You walk into the room and see your buddy lying on the floor...what do you do?"). This is the hardest part for the student, but when they get it, they really get it. As an instructor this is the most fun, because students get this look of shock when you set them up with a scenario that doesn't require them to parrot the basics, or to demonstrate all the techniques ("You just ran in and locked lips with your buddy...who was taking a nap there. Nice."). For good students (or the "we're too cool for this" types) I'd get right to this--sometimes the only way to engage them--and might not even need the whole class. Why waste their time telling them about how important some book concept is if they can clear a scene, assess a patient, and provide care in a realistic scenario?

 

Anyway, my answer is basically the same as brushfire's, but i'd add that

  • Your goal is to make the theory applicable to real life (not just to passing a test--then it becomes just rote BS). All that stuff about aerodynamics and weather is important to something we're going to encounter in the cockpit.
  • You have to adjust to the student basic understanding and preparation. Maybe dragging them through a lesson they haven't read about counts as a dumbass tax, but it isn't the most efficient way to learn.
  • You have to adjust to the topic

It took me probably a half dozen CPR classes to figure this out, and when I quit doing it i was still making adjustments to my techniques and approaches. And sometimes i'd blow it in a big way, other times i'd have students walk out saying they'd taken this class 20 times and just now really got it. if you watch your students and adapt rather than hanging on to a rigid plan that isn't working, you can tip the balance.

 

good luck,

--c

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Brushfire21, kodoz,

 

Thanks for the input.

I think you both are right.

The more I think about it the more it occurs to it really depends on who it is you are teaching. Some people catch on faster than others. But if you are teaching to a group you really need to speak to the slowest learner. But, you can give too much information. However it is best to present the knowledge in a way that it can be used in real life and the student(s) can relate.

 

Thanks.

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