Sunday, November 11, 2007

Balancing Act

Reason is weak. Especially when dealing with chaotic and violent situations. Just because something makes sense has absolutely no bearing on whether it will work or not. For the theoreticians, that's a hard thing to accept. For the operators, that's just a simple fact.

It can become a problem when courses are designed or policies are written by theoreticians.

I helped teach a class a while ago. The head instructor was a very, very good teacher. The class itself was crap. It was designed by theoreticians, people with much training and little experience. I recognized it- an earlier version had been standard when I went through the Academy. This version was brought to our agency several years ago... and was immediately laughed out of existence by experienced staff. Even inexperienced (by our standards) staff were appalled. It was that bad.

Theoretically, everything should work... and it will in a training gym. Some of it. The footwork is good.

So the first question- how can a good instructor and a veteran officer not see the absurdity of some of this? The answer came partially in his lecture- he explained that these encounters were very rare, that in his twenty years he had only had to use them three times or so. He looked at me for conformation. I couldn't give it. I'd used them almost three times that much in a single night. (Eight is my personal high). I quit counting at about three hundred. Hence I didn't see the reason in the technique because I was too caught up in the fact that predators and meth freaks don't move or react like students. I don't see being able to switch or even reverse technique as advanced skills. They are basic, basic, basic.

Yet this is the curriculum that must be taught. It is what the students will be tested and graded on. Their success at this curriculum could have a powerful bearing on their success in their careers. This must be balanced- their careers versus their survival, because these are not the best skills for survival. It seems like an easy balance- SURVIVAL FIRST! but it's probable that many or most of the students will have career paths more like the other instructor than like mine. And if they resist the beauracracy by insisting on survival, they may never be permanantly hired in the first place.

The second point of balance: Survival is far more mental than physical. As bad as the techniques are if the students are confident they will survive and adapt. Giving them better, separate techniques can actually undermine their confidence. One voice in your head can be bad enough in a fight. Two voices telling you different things can be paralyzing.

He is a talented teacher. I would really like to see him teach something of his own design.


Ted said...

Hi Rory,

my experience was the same but at a far less intense level, of course.

The school district I worked for needed us to sometimes restrain students. When it was decided a policy had to be in place to define such restraints, they chose to go with a company which taught their system to corporations all over NA.

The problem was it did not work. Even two adults on one student could not make it work, unless the student was small.

But if you deviated from the prescribed program, you were not supported by admin. It was obvious that the system was there so the school district could claim they had trained their staff and therefore had their butts covered, whether or not it interfered with the staff doing their job.

Mac said...

Trainers all over the world still don't realize that rational training has no basis in emotional situations.

Steve Perry said...
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Steve Perry said...

Delete Comment From: Chiron

Steve Perry said...
I think maybe the old adage that "No battle plan survives first contact with the enemy." might be more appropriate.

Reason, as I understand the term, is hardly weak. Expecting other folks to act reasonably, in their own best interests, that's a different beast. People do stupid things.

But one of the reasons you train is to be able to do the smart thing when necessary, and without a foundation in reason, you can't learn those things.

I think I understand the intent, but the terminology might needs some tweaking ...