From the sage on the stage to the guide on the side
March 7, 2013
By October 2013 Army Reserve instructors will shift their traditional lecture styled teaching method to a facilitator approach designed to incorporate students' knowledge, skills, and experiences.
The 80th Training Command (Total Army School System), along with the Army Training Support Center, first introduced this strategy to Army Reserve instructors through the new Foundation Instructor Facilitator Course held at the 100th Training Division, Fort Knox Ky., January 2013. The 80th and the ATSC conducted a second course in February for 94th Training Division instructors at Camp Parks, Calif.
"The reserve wanted to get a head start," said Melvina Harrison, the FIFC course manager. "The reserve is usually the last...to get the newest product…they had the training dollars and so they went ahead and started the process."
The FIFC, which will replace the current lecture focused Army Basic Instructor Course, reduces and in some cases eliminates instructor-led slide presentations. The new model is technology driven and requires instructors to facilitate problem-solving exercises.
"As a facilitator I need to draw from the experiences of my students...so we as a whole can come up with the solution to a particular problem," said Master Sgt. James Stovall, 80th Training Command FIFC co-instructor. "I may have a student with a little more experience than I do, so I would use that individual to help me teach the class."
While this new learning paradigm may be suited for experienced Soldiers, Sgt. 1st Class Felix Camacho, a student during the Camp Parks FIFC, says there's still a need for traditional teaching methods.
"For inexperienced Soldiers we still have to do more instruction, but as they progress in the Army, facilitation is the way to go," said Camacho, 5th Brigade 94th Training Division ABIC and Small Group Instructor. "If you have students who've been to Iraq, been to Afghanistan, and have been doing this for five, 10, 15 years; we (the instructors) are not the only experts in our particular field, so using their experience is the most logical thing to do."
Stovall, a chief instructor at the 100th Training Division, attended the FIFC with active Army Soldiers in July 2012. Following his validation, the 80th's Training and Doctrine Command liaison, coordinated an effort with ATSC officials that aligned Stovall with Harrison.
Together, Stovall and Harrison have trained approximately 24 instructors within the 80th Training Command.
The 80th Training Command and the ATSC are planning a third course for 102nd Training Division instructors at Fort Leonard Wood Mo., in May.
The FIFC stems from TRADOC Pamphlet 525-8-2, The U.S. Army Learning Concept 2015 which was published under the guidance of then commander Gen. Martin Dempsey.