Style over substance: training to impress.

Style over substance: training to impress.

I recently learned of a blogger and wanna-be instructor, a member of the disturbingly superficial “I’m cute and have a gun – read my blog!” trend, who wanted to have her picture taken with a well-known trainer who was visiting the area. Note that she didn’t want to take the excellent class that he was teaching, she just wanted a picture to post on her blog to make people think that she had a connection with a Famous Gun Instructor!

At least she was honest about her intent; not everyone is.

Somewhere in the last week I was directed to an article titled “Races, Journeys, and Certifications”, written by one Jacob Steinman. While intended for a martial arts audience, it’s very applicable to those of us interested in defensive shooting: it talks about people who take classes for reasons other than learning.

I’ve seen this in action, instances where people attended a defensive shooting class (either as an end user or as an instructor candidate) only to get the paper, not to actually increase their knowledge or to develop new skills. It’s diploma chasing: acquiring yet another geegaw to hang on the wall, another piece of external validation that serves to impress the impressionable, without actually absorbing the material. (As it happens, some of the worst teachers I’ve known have had the most impressive diploma walls!)

The ultimate manifestation of this would be the ditzy blogger referenced above: not even pretending to go through the motions but getting the benefit anyhow. Is she really any different than the person who acquires the certificate without having bothered to actually learn anything? Only in degree, I would argue. The result is the same.

The “money quote” from Jacob: “The certification process should not be an end point; it should not be something you do so that you can say it’s done. It should be a marker–a waypost along the journey.”

Read the whole thing. It’s pretty good.

-=[ Grant ]=-

  • Posted by Grant Cunningham
  • On August 1, 2012