Recent Naval tragedies

By | September 17, 2017

Education as Conversation

In the wake of several recent naval tragedies involving collisions with U.S. warships, there has been considerable soul-searching as to the cause. In the past year alone, there have been four serious accidents involving U.S. naval ships (see the NY Times article for details). The Navy has ordered a comprehensive review of its training procedures.

Guess what. In 2003, the United States Navy changed their training protocol for driving a warship from a combination of classes, sessions in simulators, and on-the-water experience in a patrol vessel to a series of CD’s – online training.

I get this from an NPR story in which Tom Bowman interviewed Bryan McGrath, a ship captain, who had benefitted from the earlier training protocol, but more recently, found that the new ensigns coming onboard, trained in the CD era, “did not have a well-developed sense of what the job and what the blocking and tackling skills of a surface warrior were.”

I recommend that you read the transcript of the NPR report.

Online training can save money and provide scheduling flexibility, but can it replace live instruction? I fear not. Perhaps the Navy should share that fear.

One thought on “Recent Naval tragedies

  1. James Wiczer

    I agree with your premise that education as a conversation with people understanding each others education-level, experience and motivation almost certainly will make a better learning experience, BUT other methods can also result in learning. Cost, time (duration of the interaction), schedule (availability of the participants), and many other factors may cause a different learning mode to be “overall” better. We all hope that cost is not the driving factor for educating naval officers about running warships in the Pacific, but it may be a reasonable factor for educating impoverished migrant workers trying to earn a GED late at night while working in the fields during the day. I don’t know if this is a good example, but it seems that there are less critical educational experiences than “steering a warship” that, on the whole, may benefit from an affordable, “fits-my-schedule”, but less than optimal, learning experience.

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