Over Teaching – The Fire Hose Method of Education

Over-Teaching – When you don’t have the confidence to let a student discover something for him or herself.
When your ego is so out of control that you have to prove to students how much you know.

Over-teaching is one of the greatest blocks to good education. We define over-teaching as giving the student MUCH more information than they can handle at that moment. Over-teaching defies the concept of building block education and almost guarantees that a student will stop learning the moment over-teaching begins.

Here’s a great example of over-teaching from a scuba instructor-training class:

  1. The class has two instructor candidates and two instructor-trainer candidates.
  2. Both instructor candidates are recreational divers – neither had any technical dive training.
  3. Both instructor trainer candidates are technical divers.
  4. The task was to have the instructor candidates experience a simple gas interruption failure at the rote level in a pool. Which means the IT candidate should have signaled to the student, “Here comes the drill,” then simply created the situation where breathing gas was interrupted. The goal was to have the candidates experience the process. There was not supposed to be any decision making. This was the simplest task to prepare the candidates for the next level of training.
  5. All four went into the pool (without me). This should have taken 15 minutes. An hour later they emerged from the pool.
  6. During the video review, the first thing I saw was one of the instructor-trainer candidates shutting off an isolator valve – a very advanced technical diving skill. It deteriorated from there. The students had no idea how to handle this…they were forced to learn an advanced skill in the water with no process of building blocks. No one knew what to do. The IT candidate did not have enough experience to A. not start this drill, or B. stop it immediately. The students did not have the experience to stop it…they were just trying to be good students and listen to their instructor.

This became a huge learning opportunity for everyone involved. The instructor candidates came out of the pool angry and frustrated – they were asked to perform a new task, in the water, for which they had no prep. The instructor-trainer candidate who did this was clueless…all he wanted to do was show his students how much he knew and how more advanced he was than the students.

There were two huge take-aways from this. One is the IT candidates learned a huge lesson about over-teaching. And two, the instructor candidates got to experience first hand what it’s like to be over-taught.

At the end of the day, everyone learned, but no one learned what they expected to. The bottom line: stay on target and never teach above your students’ level without proper prep.