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Friday, January 8, 2016

Encouraging Words

Keeping students or trainees apprised of their progress was always advised in all the instructor training of my career, whether it was in the army or in the studies for the flight instructor ratings.  Praising them for what they were doing right was just as important as pointing out and correcting what they were doing wrong.  In my experience, sometimes praising students created problems.

I did not do a scientific study of this, but developed the impression that every time I praised a student for doing an excellent job on something, they were so busy patting themselves on the back, that they screwed up the very next thing they were supposed to do.  Often they screwed up the next several things they were doing.

I was frequently impressed with the performance of some of my students, especially when they seemed to master something quicker and more easily than I had.  I did not have a problem with praising performance or even with bragging about my students, but after I developed my impression of praise followed by screw ups, I did become a little reluctant to do so.

Even as a parent, I was observing this reaction.  My own children and members of their sports teams, which I helped coach, would do the same thing.  If one of the coaches gave them an atta boy, the very next thing they would do was screwed up.  

I guess it might be best to save the praise for the debrief and hope the effect wears off before the next game or practice.  Correcting mistakes requires a more immediate application.

The most important point is to learn about the student and what is necessary to help them succeed.  What I loved about the instruction I had been involved in up to this point is that it was not just getting people ready to be able to choose the correct answer from several possible choices.  They were learning how to apply what they learned to actually be able to accomplish something.  Shoot a rifle, perform CPR, fly an airplane. 

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