Psychology in teaching scuba diving for a child-Part1
All cultures are using water and undoubtedly since unmemorable times it has been applied to fine therapeutic taken from empirical knowledge. Water is body, spirit and heart’s therapeutic. Nowadays, many hydrotherapeutic techniques are being practiced. And if the chemical composition of water and its salts is advertised in a rather poorly way, we neglect the element water and the very powerful impact of his symbols on the emotional sense, therefore on the human beings health. But these various techniques are primarily focused on individual path, beyond the therapeutic fields (thus pathological) and can be applied pertinently to teaching a child in scuba diving.
A- PSYCHO PEDAGOGY
1/ Development of the intelligence
1.1 Piaget’s Cognitive theory
The adaptation to the environment is realized according to two mechanisms:
Assimilation: integration of the data of the experiment in the person’s own structure, thanks to the “schemes of action” (behavioral elementary units which make it possible the individual to enter in relation to the external world).
Accommodation: modification of the “action schemes” according to the external data (action of the environment on the person). We have three core periods that describes different stages of the development of the intelligence.
- Sensory-motor period (up to 2 years old): Empirical intelligence, practical, based on motor schemes and perceptive activities that they can benefit from each other's experience. It includes 6 stages at the end which the child acquires the concept of permanence of the object: the object exists apart from perception.
- Preoperative period (2 to 6 years old): The child moves away from immediate perception, can delay action and reaches the symbolic function: ability of representing something by another thing (object, sign). The thought becomes intuitive (no concept of volume conservation: the child trusts the height of the liquid level in a container).
- Period of the concrete operations (7 to 12 years old): Access to the logical but concrete reasoning (concept of invariants: reversibility of an operation, conservation of measurements: classification of objects. Off-centering of the child compared with his own point of view and acceptance of the one from others.
- Period of the formal operations (from 12 years old): Access to the hypothetical-inferential reasoning. Handling of abstract concepts.
1.2 Walloon theory
- Based on a two reference axis: the axis of affectivity-emotional and the axis of tonico-motor balance.
- Concept of tonic dialogue: pre verbal exchange between the child and others.
Walloon defines several stages:
* New-born baby: reflexes responses, emotional,
* 2nd semester: the child claims emotional contributions, sensorimotor,
* 3rd semester: first steps and first words
* 2 years old: representation of the objects through the use of them.
* Up to 5 years old: development of the self-awareness - multipurpose personality
* After 6 years old: capacity to change role according to the situations
Time and lateral concepts are not acquired before 6 years. Another important point is the instability of the child focus before 12 years.
2/ Teaching techniques
The diving is carried out in a medium with four dimensions: Length - width - depth - time. To integrate these four dimensions is difficult for a child and must be done gradually. In this medium, the verbal language does not exist - it is replaced by gestures which require training - and this lack can become source of anxiety. The child will pass gradually from copying (without criticism) to a logical thought (copy with criticism).
It means that teaching will be focused more towards the replication of gestures than towards their explanation. Consequently it seems that the way to teach adults does not appear relevant for the child. The younger the child is, the more the activities will have to vary and the more important the playful aspect is.
Teaching must take an attractive form and be enjoyable. Water offers an almost unlimited adventure area. It is the teacher responsibility to know how to vary the games to avoid the failures. The teaching adult has to develop an educational attitude allowing building the framework of the relation with his student.
Transactional analysis can bring a priceless support here, making it possible the adult to offer the framework “of the 3 P”: Protection, Permission, and Power.
2.1 The protection pole is linked to the maternal symbolic function. Physical safety must be the main concern. This physical safety includes equipment or human customization and also an “eye” which doesn’t forget anyone, neither in the surface nor under the surface (in-depth). This role model must also be carrying an emotional safety by not being a judge, the unconditional acceptance of the other behavior to approach or explore a new situation.
2.2 The permission pole is linked to the paternal symbolic function. It is a permission which is given. This pole is always presented as proposal, not of requirement. It is the possibility of taking risks, to the unknown world, to go to see elsewhere: going from the familiar towards the unknown. This risk-taking must be presented in order to propose simultaneously various levels, to open an evolving path, like a ladder where each level would be different kind of fears.
The person in charge must be vigilant with regard to his clumsiness: in many individual’s history, water is related to traumatic experience. The biggest and most frequent teaching mistake consists in reproducing similar traumatic situations confirming the person in her defensive behavior and its mental strain.
So the main permissions would be:
* To be able to choose to take part or not. Only the desire of the child must be the leading process of this evolution, without forgetting that asking kills the desire. This is why it is necessary to avoid pushing people to improve, to provide them the prosthesis of our own desire. The finality of this strategic way is eventually to make it possible the other to find the dynamics of its own desire. Perhaps the trickiest to solve in teaching diving a child is where the desire come from: from the child or his parents?
* To be able to act: the situation must be reachable to all.
* To be able to test, regarded as a widening or an enrichment of knowledge and skills. The situation must make it possible each one to seek its own solutions, to carry out tests, and not to match absolutely with a pre-established model;
* To be able to progress: the suggested practice levels allow an evolution for each person. This possibility of progress is proposed by the structure of each situation and by the sequence of the situations, sequence which wants to be of inclusive type, each situation calling upon the preceding experiences compared to the same topic.
2.3 The power pole is that of integration, of recognition towards what took place. First of all, it is to recognize itself able to admit the value of what we are and what we do. To see that we have, as an individual, a real power, embodied, almost measurable, this thus leaves the childish illusion of absolute power. For that, the child needs someone else as a mirror. The instructor attention or those from the other children become the witness of what happened and what has been accomplished. This pole depends primarily on the situation adjustments, which must allow each one a minimum of success, seed of improvement. This pole is also about promoting people (give value to what is achieved)
This 3P’s balance highly contributes to the creation of desire. Patience, confidence and respect of the person come in addition to the adult’s attitude. To respect a person, it is to have confidence in its potential. What is experienced in water has always a mental impact, even when our objectives appear to be only pure training.
3/ Evaluation of the teaching activity
The evaluation of any therapeutic or teaching activity is done in two steps: first is focused on the action of the adult, the definition of the framework, second is focused on the course, the prior experience of the child.
3.1 For the first evaluation, it is necessary to check the compliance of the 3P balance:
- Did we give to each one the possibility of acting, of testing, of choosing, of improving?
- Were our objectives clear, well formulated, understandable by all?
- Were the suggested situations consistent in regards to the objectives? This proves that an organization is valid or not.
- How did we arrange space? Equipment and time management.
- Was our attitude consistent with the proposed situation and the strategy of space management? Thus it is all about questioning us on our behavior and all the verbal and nonverbal messages we send.
Quantity and intensity of “work per student” really proposed? In other words this is equivalent to answer the question about the sharing availability of such space. We can create a very beautiful organization satisfying our narcissism, focusing on us, like a kind of beautiful cake where we would offer only a small piece to each guest.
- What did I imagine that it would happen? And what really happened?
- Testing the fluidity of the management of the person in charge, his capacity to being surprised, adapting without losing balance, to self questioning. The intention is not enough: what is important is to know which effects I’ve created.
3.2 The second type of evaluation is focused on the child:
- It can be predictive: to determine with the child his objectives. If we do it without him, we take the risk - and especially we let the other take the risk - to put us in the vicious circle of the dramatic and infernal triangle: we are the persecutor, the other the victim, and a saver is expected to come. It is always very easy to enter in this situation, but extremely difficult to leave it especially when roles are well established.- It can be summative: what are the positive elements which have been already acquired? This approach can be done alone or with other persons. Actually comments from others help to validate. This type of assessment can take varied forms adapted to the skills of the children.
You can read directly the second part of the psychology in teaching scuba diving for a child Part2 and the last part Psychology in teaching scuba diving for a child Part3
Doctor Christine BONNAT for WorldDivingReview.