Most CFIs talk way too much (guilty). I was reminded of this listening to a very good Sporty’s “Fast Five” podcast with AOPA’s Dave Hirschman. His primary advice for improving flight instruction was “HUSH!”
Every CFI learning to teach spends a lot of time mastering the ability to fly and talk (cogently) simultaneously. This dual-channel processing takes practice to develop because it requires a lot of mental capacity. The British aviation system requires new instructors to memorize specific scripts called the “patter tape.” But step two in becoming an effective educator is talk less. Savvy CFIs learn to quiet down to allow the learner time and space to process and internalize their experiences. (Human communication in an undistracted environment is only 25% efficient!)
Continuous “CFI chatter” is largely just “interference” that can actually impede learning. A student who is appropriately challenged is mentally at full capacity just trying to manage their flight experience. The majority of our precious CFI “pearls of wisdom” are just flowing past unheard. They are an unnecessary distraction. Important corrections should be recorded for the debrief at the end of the lesson. Any critical inflight corrections should be very carefully formulated and delivered only in brief “chunks” at an appropriate low-workload phase of flight. The majority of educator input happens in the debrief – where 70-80% of all learning occurs.
Unfortunately, CFIs who talk too much usually also handle the controls too much; micromanaging the entire experience. After some basics, and except for emergencies or a few demonstrations, the learner should be doing all the flying. We all have to remember that the real job of a CFI is to get off the controls (and the radio) and actually get out of the airplane – one step at a time. The goal is to create a capable, independent pilot as efficiently as possible.
Another consequence of CFI chatter is that the pilot can also become a talking machine. I have had applicants for flight tests who nearly ruin their evaluation by attempting to continuously narrate their whole flight. This “technique” consumes mental bandwidth and often jeopardizes their ability to fly. And in addition to blocking out ATC, this continuous narration often reveals mistakes and mental errors. Fly safely out there (and often!)
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