Rethinking the Traditional Teacher-Student Relationship in Conflicts

I woke up to a post from Bruce Ivar Gudmundsson that lead me to this important piece The Ignorant Counterinsurgent: Rethinking the Traditional Teacher-Student Relationship in Conflicts by Maj. Ben Zweibelson, U.S. Army. This is really good! I wanted to share it here on the blog with cops where the old master methodology is still alive and well. Hopefully this piece will help us to evolve in the way we teach and make cops more effective and safe on the streets.

I have always been a believer when it comes to police training curriculum it’s not so much the topics but in how learning takes place that matters. With student cops doing most of the Learning on their own with facilitation to focus more discussion between the students and less talk on behalf of the instructor. Also through outcomes based learning I learned to not teach theory up front. Yes you read that right no theory up front. Theory comes after the student cops do it first. Then theory after. I often hear back from cops something like “we thought you were crazy! How we suppose to do this shit with no instruction on how too? But as we did it through the program we recognized we can do it and do it well.” Teaching or facilitating, for a police instructor is at first a very weird experience because the old master model is so prevalent:

"Rancière argues that nearly all Western approaches to conveying or discovering knowledge are shackled to a strict and unequal partnership between the teacher and the student, which he terms the old master relationship. In this model, knowledge is administered hierarchically. The master does more than simply giving the information (such as a book) to the students and telling them to learn it. The master attempts to control the learning process, by measuring progress, evaluating students, explaining information at times, and withholding information at other times if the students are not ready for a given level of advancement. Jacotot called this explication, which reduces the independence of students by forcing them into complete dependence upon the master."

There were numerous times 15 years ago as I started this way of teaching I said to myself, this is crazy! I will lose the guys! And won’t get them back! I was wrong once the light comes on in those we teach, they take ownership of the learning. It’s awesome to see it and experience it. My response to the cops comments is often that’s right “I got paid for teaching you nothing. You taught yourself.

This type of training goes way beyond d lecture and way beyond critical skills development and way beyond check the box. It includes not only interleaving or blended training. It also includes “desirable difficulties” that challenge those cop student to use their sense-making, problem solving, adaptability, attention control and feedback driven meta-cognition which must be develop along with tasks if we are to be more effective:

"Rancière describes Jacotot’s intellectual emancipation approach to teaching as the ignorant schoolmaster method. The premise is that teachers can be, even must
be, partially ignorant of what and how students will learn. The teaching method to be adopted in any situation is purely under control of the students, and there is no hierarchical relationship in that “the route the student will take is unknown [to the teacher].” Instead of teaching based on a relationship of inequality, distance,
and the implied requirement that the teacher be a master of all the knowledge students would gain, Jacotot experimented with teaching French through topics of
which he was completely ignorant. He gave his students control of their exploration of knowledge."

I get excited about this type of article because this research and science has been around for decades and in many cases centuries (read Donald Vandergriff Adopting Mission Command) for the history on these methods. But some how I policing we miss the boat and all we can think of is how long The class is (hours, ammo, critical physical skills, process, technique etc) when we need to develop folks pattern recognition and their anomalies so we get fluid OODA cycles that lead to solving g adaptive challenges cops face.

Just some thoughts for police facilitators to reflect on.

Stay Oriented!