WHINSEC: Excellence Starts Here
By Dialogo August 17, 2009Good morning!!! Let me introduce myself, I am from Chile and I am a Second Lieutenant Officer in the Army, in the year 2008, I was in Whinsec completing a leadership course for cadets as part of my military tour, I am now postulating the Peace Operations in my country, and therefore I direct myself to you because it is my wish to have some sort of training in Whinsec to improve my knowledge and in so doing add a â€œplusâ€ to the other postulants of the mission. I hope that with my military capacity I could begin to complete some course, with the possibility of me footing the bill for any costs. Thank you in advance, many thanks!! my colonel, your editorial is very well done I feel so proud to have been in these whinsec classrooms since the training that received was put in practice in my unit here in Colombia, although itâ€™s been a long time, having been there in 2008 for the 04/ITC course but the knowledge is not forgotten thanks to you and the team of instructors as well as whinsec many thanks I. INTRODUCTION.- The constant challenge faced by institutions involved in the dynamic process of teaching and learning has to do with the quality of instruction offered by a highly qualified teaching staff, capable of exercising a positive influence on student behavior in the efficient performance of their work and consequent fulfillment of their mission. The Staff and Faculty Development Department (SFDD) of the "Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC)":https://www.infantry.army.mil/WHINSEC/ has taken up this challenge as part of the educational system, committed to the department’s primary responsibility of training the instructors who will form part of the Institute’s faculty and those who, after successfully completing the Instructor Training Course (ITC), will take on this role in their home institutions and countries, becoming messengers and replicators of our doctrine and philosophy as graduates of our Institute. This responsibility is the benchmark for our efforts and the inspiration for our motto, “*EXCELLENCE STARTS HERE*.” Teaching excellence should be understood as an interactive behavior incorporating imagination and creativity as important parts of a rich repertoire of pedagogical resources. Its principal aim is to foster the development of the student’s personal abilities, encouraging and motivating cooperation among students and always demonstrating enthusiasm, energy, and dedication, especially with students in need of additional support. The objective of teaching excellence is to equip students with the capability to face new challenges and threats with a forward-looking, wide-ranging, professional, and competent vision. In line with these considerations, every institution aspires to achieve “excellence,” although it is harder to maintain than to achieve, in a complex world in which competition and high expectations are constant and the instructor’s role is a weighty one. In order to develop this focus, we should start from a basis that will permit us to define our instructional goals objectively. In order to do so, we should answer three questions that will guide this process. *What is going to be taught?, For what purpose is it going to be taught?, and How is it going to be taught?* II. DEVELOPMENT. What is going to be taught? The answer to this question is related to clearly identifying the needs of the student as an important and active contributing part of his institutional, national, and hemispheric context. Our answer should concentrate on the work that our students will perform, and so we need research to shed light on these unknown factors and ongoing evaluations to alert us to changes in the initial frame of reference. This task is performed by WHINSEC through the evaluations conducted by the SFDD and the Quality Assurance Office (QAO). For what purpose is it going to be taught? This question has to do with meeting the expectations of WHINSEC’s users, so that the product offered by the student in the practical performance of his tasks meets the needs identified in the first process. Asking “For what purpose is it going to be taught?” highlights two concrete objectives. The first is to engage each student’s “zone of proximal development” and is addressed in the Instructor Training Course (ITC) through curricular content: Principles of Adult Learning, Instructional Objectives, Test Development, Instructional Methods, Instructional Aids, Communication Techniques, Control and Interaction Techniques, Portfolio and Lesson-Plan Development, and Human Rights, Armed Forces, and Democracy. The second objective is to engage the group’s “zone of potential development” through the concept of “teamwork,” addressed in the Small-Group Instructor Training Course (SGITC). This course covers the Experiential Learning Cycle; Group Development, Consensus, and Feedback; Interventions; the Johari Window; and Theory and Practice of Small-Group Instruction. How is it going to be taught? This question basically refers to choosing the methods and techniques to be used, establishing the essential conditions, space requirements, and pedagogical requirements, determining the number of students, and everything else that has to do with creating a suitable instructional environment. These three benchmarks are based on an educational framework that clearly defines the governing concepts for the entire instructional process. Granted, there are a variety of theories that might offer us guidance; nevertheless, military and police instruction today, in the author’s judgment, should be based on four pillars that shape modern education: Learning to learn, Teaching to learn, Learning to teach, and Teaching to teach. Learning to learn. Many individuals are unfamiliar with or have not developed learning strategies to facilitate the learning process, and when faced with this difficulty, they intuitively use the method they have always used in the past, which does not always turn out to be the best one. Learning to learn is important for today’s instructors and students, since we live in an environment in which technology provides an abundant flow of information, and we need techniques and methods to help us organize and classify the information and knowledge that we obtain. Teaching to learn. Learning is a skill that the instructor should develop in his students, familiarizing them with the techniques, methods, and tools that will permit them to learn correctly and efficiently. This objective is related to the previous one and differs from it only in that the instructor should teach the student how to study in order to learn. Learning to teach. Undoubtedly, this objective brings the SFDD closer to the Department’s specific mission, which is to develop our students’ knowledge of the process of teaching. The instructor, in addition to knowing the subject matter he will teach, should be familiar with different instructional techniques and methods and make use of suitable instructional aids in developing his class. The SFDD fulfills this objective in WHINSEC. Teaching to teach. The replicator effect sought as part of educational philosophy should take into account this aspect of an instructor’s training, since this training should teach him to teach the content of a subject or specialty, producing a replicator effect that expands the horizons of learning. These pillars are the essential guide to our objectives and to the Department’s vision, based on the guidelines of the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC). III. CONCLUSION.- We start from the foundation of excellence as the aspiration of every institution that takes its educational mission seriously, considering three questions the answers to which guide the educational process, a process that in the author’s judgment should be based on four pillars of the modern concept of education. Without doubt, the thrilling dynamics of teaching and learning require the design of ambitious and up-to-date programs that shatter old paradigms as the only means to find new and better ways of solving current problems and confronting future ones. Excellence rests on the activity of the instructor as the process’s principal actor, who should be engaged in constant study and research in pursuit of personal development, so as to be an inexhaustible source of knowledge. He should develop habits and aptitudes that set an example for his students. He should stay humble, recognizing that he does not know everything and that he wants to share generously what he does know. He should remember that as an instructor he has an opening that gives him a great opportunity to penetrate his students’ minds, hearts, and spirits, to engrave on the marble of their consciences the principles and values appropriate to an upright man - the supreme reason for an instructor’s apostolate and the one that will make him forever a true teacher.