Quality and Quantity on Many Levels

Article by: Jean-Marc Claes

Tropical environment diving and teaching dive courses in cold waters.

Is there a difference?

As this magazine is of international attitude, we look at the different sides of the world and specifically in this article towards the teaching of scuba courses across the globe. As most of you know, there are different areas in the world with different ways to dive and so also to teach scuba.

Tropical waters come into mind for most of the divers as they are mostly seen in movies and inspire most of the divers to start exploring the underwater world and joining their first dive course.

But different regions offer different waters, imagine Canada or Scandinavia? At least you will not be surprised to hear that the water temperatures in those areas are different compared to the Australian Great Barrier reef! Does that influence how to teach a scuba course??

Yes, it does… but in what sense?

Could the quality of the course be different when the quantity of the water temperature goes down?

Over the last many years, international statistics show that more people are taking the basic dive course ‘at home’, where ever they live. The holiday time becomes more and more ‘expensive and rare’ so who wants to sacrifice this valuable time on taking a dive course, when this can be done at home, combined with work and family? Throughout the years, more and more domestic dive centers opened up, not even being near the warm and clear blue ocean. Online learning was introduced some years ago and Covid made online learning very common and useful. Nobody needs to be convinced anymore that learning/teaching scuba has changed.

Basic water skills can be taught in pools and combined with elearning, the new ‘almost’ scuba divers arrive on the first dive holiday destination to fulfill the last necessary steps to become certified: the deepwater part of the entry-level course. Mostly chosen here are the warm, clear blue waters.

The instructor just needs to ‘finish’ a few dives with some exercises and hopes to get and keep the attention of the students while submerged next to a coral reef, with abundant colors and fishes.

All too easy, the attention for the exercises gets lost as a turtle swims past and the students are having fun while 1 member of the dive group was just taking off his mask and missed the complete turtle show. The same dive but with different logbook notes after that dive, that is how quickly it happens!

Teaching in tropical waters gives extra dive time to the instructor because of warmer water, but challenges the instructor in keeping attention and control and not disappointing the students in diving, as they just want to see fishes, corals, and sooooo much more and all that by preference in a way that writes: as soon as possible! More and more, time seems to be the issue. We want to spend less time learning and more time enjoying!

Are we losing the viewpoint that scuba diving is a sport that takes you into a hazardous environment where fish live and humans can not breathe without the use of scuba gear and a complete set of rules? Are we getting to a level where it is made all too easy to get below the surface with scuba gear?

When I compare the dive training and requirements over the last thirty years, the difference is rather remarkable, in both skills and required theory knowledge. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not here to pass judgment on dive training organizations or instructors. I am just stating the evolution, the change of courses, and how/to what level we train scuba divers these days. But these ‘items’ will be subject to a new, later upcoming article here in ScubaBiz!

I am trying to set the image that teaching scuba in tropical water is a challenge

as well as teaching in colder (and even murky) waters in different parts of the world.

Sometimes, we, dive instructors, pass judgment too quickly on those teaching courses in different circumstances than ours. When I have a look at my own career, both teaching for years in tropical waters and also in the colder and murky waters of Belgium, in the middle of Europe, I must admit that I like both but also see and feel the challenges I experienced in those 32 years of teaching scuba.

The relaxed times I have had with my domestic students in Belgium, coming into my scuba courses after work or taking an evening class of scuba, without time limits, and even ‘hanging’ around the dive center for an extra hour (not always to my liking, but yeah, how to get them going home?), compared to the holiday sensation of teaching scuba in the blistering sun, sweaty and warm and fighting against time as the scuba student has about 10 other activities planned and his/her family hanging around and really not interested in scuba diving at all?

Have you been there, do you understand what I mean?

Let’s just not pass too quickly judgment on those instructors teaching in clear blue warm water, thinking they sacrifice quality by quantity… or is it the other way around these days? In the end, all we, professional scuba teachers, want, is to train divers well so they can safely explore the underwater world and pass the word around, as every diver we train, is an ambassador to spread the word on how beautiful the world below the surface is and that his/her friends should join them as soon as possible; Diving still is a buddy sport! This attitude is what we, scuba professionals, need to stay in business! There is nothing more powerful than the testimonial of a recently certified scuba diver that you trained!

And always remember, the magical first moments and words from your students after you have finished that perfect taught Try Scuba. The twinkles in the eyes of the newly introduced diver!

That moment, those twinkles should be seen again when you finish the complete dive course and hand your student his certification to start exploring the world below the surface! Make them aware of the freedom they are obtaining, no matter where in the world you/they are!

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