On Bashing, Flames and Training

by

Larry "Harris" Taylor, Ph.D.

This comment is excerpted from a conversation on Dive Training Agencies on the GEnie Scuba Diving Round Table. A shorter version appeared as a guest editorial, "Listen To The Music" in Underwater, USA (November, 1994). This material is copyrighted and all rights retained by the author. This article is made available as a service to the diving community by the author and may be distributed for any non-commercial or Not-For-Profit use. 

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To my knowledge, nearly everyone agrees that the individual instructor, regardless of the dive shop, agency, or geographical location, determines the quality of scuba training. What SOME of us are attempting to debate is differences in training philosophy and YOUR RIGHT TO ALL INFORMATION AVAILABLE ABOUT THE RISKS YOU ASSUME WHEN YOU GO DIVING! 

If you doubt that your right to information is being curtailed, then look at a 10 year old copy of "The New Science of Skin and Scuba Diving" or an older version of The Jeppesen Diving text and compare it to newer editions. Notice how much information is missing in the newer, "modern" text. If you doubt that your right to information is being challenged, then read the editorials in Skin Diver. You will see RESTRICT DEPTH, RESTRICT TRAINING and  RESTRICT Almost Everything of substance.

I believe that part of the phenomenal growth in phone calls to DAN reflect an eagerness for divers to learn information that used to be part of basic training. More modern courses consider stuff like physics, physiology and self assessment of skills and environment to be "Too Much Information" or "unnecessary skills." Also, I hear training agencies tell me that what-used-to-be-required-for-basics is now "too complex a task." Whenever I hear "too complex," I automatically translate to "I cannot waste my time teaching you this skill" or "I am NOT skilled enough to teach this skill."

Diving is, in essence, a most sensual sport! The sense of one-ness of self and environment that comes from having the knowledge and skill to glide weightless in a variety of unique environments is a truly wonderful emotional high!

As a sensual experience, diving can be compared to listening to fine music. Assume that you are listening to the POWER of Beethoven's "Ninth" or Wagner's "Das Valkyrie" or the interplay of battling themes in Tchaikovsky's "1812."  A worldwide "all-star" 10-piece orchestra is performing the music. Because of the superb skill of the musicians, you leave the auditorium with a sense of wonder and awe and the majesty of the classical music experience.  At some later time, however, you happen to listen to a live performance of the same music as interpreted by the New York Philharmonic Symphony.  There is a distinct difference!     

Although, the ten-piece band delivered an awesome performance, there is NO COMPARISON to listening to a classical ballet when interpreted by a world-class orchestra.  The difference is that the 10-piece band is simply missing information! The emotional experience, though satisfying, cannot compete with the experience derived when the music is played with the entire orchestra! More instruments ... more notes ... more information ... a much greater emotional experience!    

What many folks are doing (in all agencies!), in this rush to train more people with less time developing skill and knowledge, is removing pieces of information from the full orchestral experience that is diving!

Unless you have heard the symphony, then you do not know of its "wonderfulness." Unless you have heard Swan Lake performed by more than one orchestra of varying talents, you have NO BASIS for comparison! (As I understand the word COMPARE, more than one entity must be involved!)  Within diving, there is too much religious zeal! (Listening to someone else is "heresy" in many dive shops!)  I suggest, that before anyone discuss the "wonderfulness" of any agency (or the ineptness of others) that they experience the training of a variety of instructors, dive shops, agencies, and geographic locations! In other words, listen to more than one orchestra before you decide which plays music to YOUR liking.     

The greatest truth I have ever uttered in diving is what my students call, "The Gospel According To Harris" -  "Knowledgeable, physically fit divers ALWAYS have more fun!"  Don't let religious-like zeal (my dive shop's better than your dive shop AND I will not open my mind to other opinions) close the mind! When you close your mind, then you shut off much music and many pleasurable future experiences will be eliminated!     

There are a whole host of opportunities out there. Don't allow undeserved loyalties to DENY you the opportunity to listen and experience the full orchestra that can be your music when you dive!

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About The Author: 

Larry "Harris" Taylor, Ph.D. is a biochemist and Diving Safety Coordinator at the University of Michigan. He has authored more than 100 scuba related articles. His personal dive library (See Alert Diver, Mar/Apr, 1997, p. 54) is considered one of the best recreational sources of information In North America.  

  Copyright 2001-2022 by Larry "Harris" Taylor

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Use of these articles for personal or organizational profit is specifically denied.

These articles may be used for not-for-profit diving education