Recommended Reading: Getting Firefighters Attention During Training

Learning has changed dramatically over the years.

The times they are a changing, and people and how they learn change with it. We should follow Dylan’s advice when he sings, “you better start swimming or you’ll sink like a stone.” Every organization today, especially those operating in high-risk environments, must pay more attention to how their members learn, designing and delivering training and education that works for everyone. That’s how “learning organizations” are created.

Janet Wilmoth writes in her article in Fire Chief Magazine this month:

Now, a multimedia tsunami is available to viewers in their homes and offices, on their computers and smartphones, and in their vehicles with live and on-demand programs. And we expect the same entertainment and engagement in any program or class, online or at a conference.

Training in the fire and emergency response services has changed dramatically over the last 20 years, both because of increased technological capabilities and the increased demands on the fire service.

Denis Onieal, Superintendent at the National Fire Academy is quoted in the article:

Earlier this year, National Fire Academy Superintendent Denis Onieal said that fire-service instructors today understand that they are working with adult learners and can’t use the teaching methods traditionally used with children. “Great fire service instructors know that adults need to be engaged in their own learning — they’re poor passive learners,” he said.

Wilmoth concludes the article with:

A good instructor knows his students, his topics, and the most effective way to deliver his message or lesson before heads bow and focus shifts to texting or e-mails.

Here’s my response to the article:

HOW do firefighters learn? It depends on each and everyone one of them, individually. What we teach is important, but HOW we teach is vital, and it’s all audience driven. We don’t want to teach just an understanding of firefighting but the ability to do it. Along with building the skill of the body, the mind must be trained to observe, orient, decide and act. Building knowledge, skill and ability requires two things: 1) the student knows their own learning needs (where they are and where they need to go); and 2) the teacher understands the student’s learning needs and is able to adapt to them. In a group setting, this means hitting all the students’ senses for learning (seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, tasting, and I would also include a sense of time and intuition). So, in reality, ALL OF THE ABOVE (Powerpoint, slides, handouts, hands-on, videos, and writing (something we don’t do enough of)) should be used. It just depends on the audience.

If our real goal is to train (condition) everyone to be ready for any situation, and to be more decisive, deliberate and correct in their actions, then we should use every training method available to reach everyone in their own way.

Read the entire article here.

A Related Article:

Dr. Denis Onieal on Higher Education in the Fire Service.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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