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Responsible diving...

Stephen Hensley - PADI OWSI & IANTD Adv. EANx Instructor
December 12, 2003 at 16:23:34

If I had my way, I would let my PADI membership lapse and only teach IANTD, because I believe that overall, IANTD Open Water divers have better quality training than PADI Open Water divers.  That does not mean that my PADI OW divers are less trained than my IANTD OW divers. PADI standards require that students MASTER the skills in each session, before moving on to the next session. PADI does not address the number of days required to complete the class, only how many training dives are allowed in a day (3).

Theoretically, instruction could be done in 2 days.  Knowledge Development I - III (& quizes), Confined Water sessions I - III (considered a dive), Open Water dives I & II, all on day one. Knowledge Development IV & V (quiz & exam passed), Confined Water IV & V (a dive), OW dives III & IV, all on day two. This is not to say that a student could complete the course in 2 days, as there is a Video or DVD to watch (complete with PADI continuing education pitches), reading the entire manual and completing each knowlege review, before sitting down with the instructor.

The concept of listening/watching the video, reading the book and writing the chapter reviews is a valid educational process, and if it is all done before class, Knowlege Developement can be done relatively quickly. The student must do the homework in order to maintain the theoretical schedule above.  Now we get in the water!

I am an Instructor on the North Shore of Oahu (Hawaii), so I have taught both land lubbers and sea dogs, locals and BYUH students, neighbors and foreigners.  If I had a class of non partying, big wave surfing and/or free diving BYU students, they could probably complete all the requirements with me in 16 hours (2 days), if they did the homework!

Every person is different, some require more teaching to understand the math, some more practice to master the skills, some just don't take it seriously. I have never attempted a 2 day class, and I don't enjoy 3 day classes, but economics force Dive Shops to advertise the low priced 3 day cert.

I am sure there are profitable Dive Operators, but with all the costs involved in this business, most I see are struggling, so PADI marketing is one of the reasons they don't go under more often. PADI tries to generate diving customers, so it can continue to collect fees from those of us in the business. This is not a bad thing.

If the Instructor adheres to standards (ie. mastery), PADI Open Water divers have the neccessary tools to be good divers.  There are no dive police, so many newbies exceed their training recomendations on the first dive after certification (deeper than 60 ft). Here, our most popular dive in the summer is Sharks Cove, which is ringed with caverns and caves. I must touch on subjects not included in any agencies open water course because I know many of my students will go in them on their first dives after certification!

The instructor has a responsibility to require students to actually pass the course, and to give them some guidelines for diving in the real world.  The student has a responsibility to not be stupid after receiving his cert card.  In the post about diving at Blue Hole with a PADI Scuba Diver rating, PADI and the certifing Instructor are not neccessarly at fault, but the diver, Divemaster, Boat Captain and Dive Shop have all failed in their responsibility.

I do not see anybody advertising Scuba Diver classes.  I have issued a few Scuba Diver certs for people who could not complete the full Open Water requirements (in 3 days), but did complete enough for Scuba Diver.

The majority of would-be recreational divers should not be in 3 day classes, just quick learners who are fairly athletic with some water skills! I know of many good Divemasters who did not complete Open Water in 3 days, but they perservered and now probably know more than their classmates who didn't have to try so hard.  When used properly, the Scuba Diver cert can give the student something for their time and money, instead of failing them, whereby they probably give up all together.  Hopefully they will take the time, and further expense, to become an Open Water diver.  If the Dive Community acts responsibly on this issue, it ends up being a relatively minor issue that may actually help the business in the long run.

There are many things in the world we cannot change, but we can change the way we deal with the thing we cannot change.

Good Diving, Stephen Hensley

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