Tune And Identify


I’m a 63-year-old pilot completing my IFR training and obtaining a high-performance endorsement for a 182. Virtually all of my training has been with a large flight school in South Florida (name withheld to protect the guilty).

In my regular life I’m a senior faculty member for a respected trade association. After about 30 years as an educator, I’ve learned that a successful learning outcome happens when the teacher is addressing the unique learning styles of each individual student. All of my students are adults with varying skill and education levels. If I teach in a manner that I think is the right way, but fail to connect with the individual student, I’ve failed as an instructor.

Much like we tune and identify navaids, the same is true for student pilots. Unless a CFI can adapt their teaching style to the learning style of the individual student pilot, learning likely won’t happen. At best the student doesn’t like the experience but perseveres (my story) or the student quits all together.

For example, some students learn by seeing, others by listening, still others by doing. I’ve found that using all three approaches in my classes will in one way or another reach and impact every student.

A danger in higher learning (something I believe IFR training is) involves teaching by assumption. By this I mean the CFI assumes the student should know, should have read, should have studied, etc., and can apply it to the flying. This in my opinion is teaching by arrogance. Instead of the assumptions style, query your student in a helpful and supportive manner. For example, when explaining an ILS approach, visually, graphically and control wise demonstrate what it means to intercept the course (When ATC gives you vectors to within 20 degrees of the approach course, at what point should we begin to turn?) Point to the HSI or compass and show what exactly that means. Explain what a small-scale deflection actually is in altitude or horizontal difference to the landing zone. As a student pictures this in their mind and converts it to the manner they understand, I’m quite certain they will improve dramatically.

In short, treat your students like a VOR or localizer, and tune and identify their learning experience. If the student hasn’t learned, the teacher hasn’t taught.


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