As we arrive at Sinai Divers shortly after 8am we notice that Peter and Sigrid are coming out of the water. They got up very early to participate in a voluntary practice round. Good students we have to admit.
Today there is a role playing game for the first time of this IDC. Nancy's Team explains how to run the whole thing. In theory it sounds simple and obvious − one candidate acts as the dive instructor the others are act as students. The game should be as realistic as possible. Every soon-to-become instructor is assigned one shallow-water exercise (Confined). They will encounter situations like this later as instructors. First each candidate holds a briefing and demonstrates the exercise in the water then the students have to repeat the exercise. Afterwards the candidate outlines the results in a debriefing.
PADI Scoring System
This sounds easier than it is. Nancy and her team assign errors to the student divers in the water. The instructor must be on the ball and react accordingly. The whole exercise is also graded, with one being the lowest and five the highest score. The candidates will encounter the same system in the final exam (IE). The tricky part is that you can get a one easily if you do not pay attention. A one in an under water demonstration is a fail regardless of how good the briefing and debriefing.
Scoring is comprised of three parts, Nancy says. A good briefing and debriefing can help to pass the even if a candidate made a small mistake under water and ends up with a two for this part. Only a one can not be overlooked. For the briefings there are clear guidelines set by PADI. As long as candidates stick to them nothing can go wrong. Hugo’s claim that later on nobody will work exactly like that is agreed by Nancy’s team. But in this course they focus on how the examiner wants to see things in the IE. “Sure you will later develop your own style, which is quite normal,” says Nancy. “But for the next few days I would advise you to keep strictly to the specifications. Surely you want to pass the exam, right?” asks Nancy with a smile.
After the briefings the candidates are on their way into the water. Unfortunately Victoria can not join again. Because she was not feeling well she went to see a doctor who advised, “three days no diving.” After this information Nancy says with a serious face: “Time is short and if Victoria is out of the water for the next three days I do not know if we can compensate the missed lessons.”
The Role Playing Game
In the water Hendrik and Yasser demonstrate the role-playing game. After this demonstration the IDC candidates try their luck. Nancy is snorkelling in the back of the current instructor.
In this way she can assign errors to the students without being seen by the instructor. Ms. Course Director has many creative possibilities. However they previously promised only realistic errors.
As an example she uses the most important rule of diving − always breathe and never hold your breath. Once the regulator is out of the mouth the instructor must make sure the student keeps the airway open by constantly exhaling. This rule is easily controlled. No bubbles coming out of the mouth means a closed airway. In reality an issue like this could end up in a critical situation. If a student panics, holding the breath and shooting to the surface (even from a few metres of depth) can result in a serious lung injury. Therefore the instructor must control the situation.
The candidates playing “instructor” must monitor that the students perform the prescribed exercises correctly and completely. For example there is the one-minute breathing without a mask skill. If the student does the exercise only for 30 seconds the instructor will score a one. For this session the divers spend roughly 90 minutes in the water. The candidates are lucky that in September the Red Sea in Dahab has cosy 27 degrees. Hendrik and Yasser make notes on each individual.
When Nancy comes out of the water she whispers in our ears: “Four ones. Pooh! But this is a good shock therapy. From now on my candidates will be concentrated a little bit more.”
Up to now the candidates don’t know their final score for this session. After a short break the debriefing starts. Now the instructors debrief their students and tell them what kind of mistakes they saw under water. The debriefing should be motivating and not devastating. Once the individual is finished the final grade is given by Yasser, Hendrik or Nancy. The marks for the briefing and de-briefing are quite good. Nevertheless some of the candidates end up with a total score of one. The main reason for these scores are minor lapses which is especially annoying. One example is not sticking to the specified depth of a skill. Nancy warns that this can also be a mistake given in the IE.
After the shock therapy everybody is goes back to the classroom. We are told that tomorrow is the first open water training lesson in a depth between six to nine metres. Nancy tells us that she will be one of the students − whatever that might mean.
Course Director: Nancy Abd El Wahab
Dive centre: Sinai Divers Dahab
Published on: 09/22/2009
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