MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP JOHNSON, N.C. --
Civilians have to earn college degrees to become certified teachers; on average, a military instructor receives nine days of training, said an academic official at Camp Johnson. The Department of Defense has been advancing instructor’s education to improve the quality of their student’s training with the master instructor courses.
Academic officials have offered a bi-annual master instructor program opportunity to expand participant’s skills of instruction at Camp Johnson. In 2000, Marcy L. Waters, the deputy director of academics at Camp Johnson, expanded on the existing idea of master instructors and made the military more aware of its benefits.
“This program is not only an opportunity to help instructors with teaching skills, but it allows the students to learn more through teaching and not yelling,” Waters said.
As a master instructor and former drill instructor, Gunnery Sgt. Joseph Reconnu has years of experience when it comes to teaching Marines.
“A drill instructor’s idea of teaching is to scream and make the recruits do push-ups if they can’t obtain the knowledge,” he said. “When I took the master instructor courses, I realized that it’s not my student’s fault they can’t learn the material, but rather it’s my fault for not finding their way of learning.”
Every Marine knows ‘death by Power Point presentation’ is not an effective way to teach, Reconnu explained. The program helps instructors realize every person has a specific way of learning that suits them best.
“I stepped away from this course with a better understanding of my personal life and teaching skills,” Reconnu said. “I now understand my problems as a teacher and mentor.”
To become a master instructor, an individual must first be taught. Professors from the University of North Carolina-Wilmington and Coastal Carolina Community College come to Camp Johnson to teach the instructors.
“We have partnered up with the colleges to achieve maximum learning ability for the new master instructors,” Waters said.
Instructors who graduate will walk away from the program with a Navy Marine Corps Achievement Award, a new outlook on teaching, and in the near future college credit for the minimum of 18 days of training they will experience, she explained.
There are currently about 120 master instructors aboard Camp Johnson; from sergeants to lieutenant colonels, said John Goodrich, an academic officer at Camp Johnson.
Master instructing programs are developing throughout the military, and some service members have traveled from as far away as Okinawa, Japan to further their knowledge. The future of the military depends on service members being taught to the best of their ability and the Master Instructors program is doing just that.