The myth of the diving instructor

They are everywhere in the dive centres, clubs, dive shops… More or less listening, more or less experienced, more or less competent also sometimes. Whether we love them or hate them, they are surrounded by a kind of aura sometimes prestigious, sometimes frightening. And are often themselves victims of the famous myth of the diving instructor.

Caution! For educational purposes, I will voluntarily push a little (a lot ?) caricature. But I love you very much, you humble and passionate instructors.

A myth of the diving instructor? But what is it about?

Beforehand, a few stories…

A few years ago, I joined my friend Jean-Yves in Panama. An experienced and autonomous diver up to 60m, Jean-Yves is used to complicated dives in “hostile” environments (Cold, dark, low viz). As we discuss a special spot, my friend looks at me and says, “Yes, but this is a spot for you. A spot for the instructors.” I look at him surprised and speechless.

A few month later, I am on a diving base in Normandy and I talk with Paul, a diver surprised that I listen to him ! “In my club, you know, from level 4 or divemaster, people get the big head and don’t really discuss with us except to show us how superior they are,” Paul tells me.

I remain amazed to hear such comments and tell me that it is really important and urgent to re-establish the truth about the myth of the diving instructor:

No, the instructor is not and will never be a SUPRA diver!

The myth of the diving instructor

That’s it, the truth comes out!
While you thought he was a superhero, you now discover that he is not. And the fall is sometimes hard.

But if the diving instructor is not a SUPRA diver, who is he then?

To fully understand the importance of the myth, we need to go back a little bit

The instructor, this diver like the others

If there is one truth it is most certainly this one: the instructor is just a diver like any other,no more, no less.

Quite simply, because the full recreational diving training stops as soon as you have reached the last level of autonomy of your favorite certification agency  (-40m to -60m depending on the agency)

I say this because we often mix up the courses. And the one of instructor has nothing to do with that of a diver.

Indeed, once a learner has validated all diving levels, he can then make choices:

  • Diving (that’s kind of the main goal of it)
  • Perfecting yourself by following one or the other specialization
  • Deciding to take a dive guide training
  • Opt for a trainer’s course

No matter what path the learner takes, there are no hierarchical levels, but different paths that respond to particular personal wishes.

So there is no SUPER or SUPRA diver

But just an infinite amount of ways to experience your dives according to who you are, here and now.

Therefore, we can say that in terms of diving (and diving practice), the instructor is absolutely not superior to other autonomous divers.

Sometimes (I don’t dare to say often, because you will accuse me of pushing too much caricature), when the diver becomes instructor … he almost doesn’t dive anymore. He is just showing the same gestures, year after year in the swimming pool. Satisfying himself with rare outings or club trips once a year to show the full extent of his abilities or knowledge. (But of course, I know that I’m exaggerating and that you’re not all like that…)

I invent (almost) nothing. I saw them in clubs these divers trained to get their instructor certification. And then come back with the big head, proud as can be, sure to have become superheroes, the time of a training, “rich” of a new power that gives them the prestige they had hoped for so long.

Not convinced? ➡️ 9 Instructor Profiles To Avoid By All Means

Some divers who have decide not to become an instructor have diving experience that many instructors may never reach. .. Let’s not forget that!

But then: instructor and diver, what difference?

It’s so obvious that you don’t always think about it.

The instructor is simply someone who has one day decided to learn to learn.

And for this, he started from scratch in this precise course, different from that of a diver and which is ultimately far away from the pure practice of diving.

While the willingness to choose one or another training course has nothing to do with an increase in skills as a diver, it nevertheless gives tools to allow (normally) the person to position himself in the role he has chosen, that of trainer.

During his instructor training, the instructor will learn a methodology that will allow him to transmit the basic principles of diving so that learners can dive with pleasure and safely.

Teaching, this is what he will do, depending on his training, his certification agency, his sensitivity, his empathy, his ability to question himself (or not)… or his individual choices. Because it is a matter of choice.

Instructor, an ultimate goal?

You have now understood, sometimes presented as the cream of the crop, the instructor course is not the ultimate goal of the diver’s course,  since it is not part of it..

It is the result of a personal choice,a desire to pass on what one has learned oneself.

But not all of us need to focus on teaching. Above all, we must do what suits us best and what we feel most comfortable in..

Do you love to guide ? Follow a Divemaster course. What you’re most passionate about is diving ?… Well, dive with pleasure and safety.

What can you do to break the instructor myth (and thus help them)?

For the divers

It’s pretty simple: stop thinking of them as superheroes ! Have the intelligence to think of them as mere mortals that they are.

Of course, I am aware that they have an impressive super power. The one to give you your long-awaited c-card.

Be assured, you will eventually get your certification. And if your instructor is not correct, don’t hesitate to change centers or dive shop. There are many who are excellent. Don’t forget that you are there first and foremost to make ENJOY, not to hurt yourself.

Especially since, in my opinion, being a learner does not justify having to undergo certain sometimes inappropriate behaviors, certain degrading or derogatory remarks…

I’m really against this kind of behavior diminishing learners, I remember with delight this learner who listened to an instructor talking about physiology and biology when he himself was a PhD of physics and chemistry, but didn’t told anyone (except me)

For the instructors

If you are an instructor, never forget that you often ignore much of the learner in front of you. And that every learner, whoever he is, is entitled to all your consideration and kindness.

Treat your learners with respect. Keep in mind that even if you are a volunteer in a club, the person in front of you is part of the life of your club just as much as you do. Indeed, whether she/he is a customer and pays for your services or is a member and pays her dues, it allows your business to exist. Don’t hesitate to be curious about beginners’ questions. But also towards points of view that are different of yours and the evolution of the world of diving. Humility and the ability to question yourselves are qualities that are highly appreciated by learners who will make you feel like they are happy to be trained by you. 

Never forget that in the end, what’s the point of being a instructor if there are no learners…

Quatre moniteurs de plongée font le signe OK.
Moniteurs de plongée | © Different Dive
To go further:

Fortunately, it is clear that there are many really nice and professional instructors who do not use their certification to gain the upper hand over the learners. But who, on the contrary, show a lot of empathy and a real love for the idea of teaching others. Learners feel more and more free to express their discontents and satisfactions. 
Thank you all, instructors and divers who positively evolve the spirit of the diving world.

The myth of the instructor, you maintain it? You have no vision at all? You only see cool, humble and passionate instructors?

Tell me what you think in a comment below

And above all… remember to be happy 🤗

Hélène

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