Learning by “Word of Mouth”

DrillMaster Ask DrillMaster, Commentary, Drill Teams, Honor Guard, Instructional 4 Comments

This year’s seniors were taught by last year’s seniors who were taught by the previous year’s seniors, etc., etc., etc. This is common in high schools across the country- unfortunately. No one reads the manual and the idea creeps in that we do it this way, meaning that at our school, we do “XYZ” like this. Where “XYZ” could be anything. Note: we’re not talking about exhibition drill (XD). When XD is the issue, do what you want, how you want! Back to regulation-type procedures.

In regulation drill (RD), you must teach from the manual. [Holding up megaphone] I repeat: you must teach from the manual. Here’s the problem: ‘I’ve been in JROTC for four years I’ve done XYZ plenty of times, I don’t need to read about it, so-and-so taught me’ and so the manual sits on the shelf for another year.

Ever play the “Phone Game”? Everyone sits in a circle and one person begins by saying something like “Your mother wears combat boots.” This short phrase is whispered only once to each person’s neighbor all the way around the circle until everyone has heard the phrase. By the time the last person hears it, the phrase in no way resembles the original, it’s completely different. So too, the “word of mouth” training technique.

How do you think training is accomplished in the military? By the book. From the book. Drill Instructors, Training Instructors and even honor guard instructors all either have the book at their side while training or they are boning up between training sessions. Not to mention other jobs. Lives depend on people doing their jobs correctly. When it comes to drill, lives do not hang in the balance, but you need to handle the small stuff well to be able to handle the big stuff well. What does this all mean? Read your service’s drill and ceremonies manual and other manuals that pertain to drill (flags, protocol, etc.).

Comments 4

  1. I have had that we have always done it that way. Today I used one of our best marchers as an example for others to try and march like and the response was that she wasn’t that good. She is that good! I tried this Sleigh bell idea where if your marching with your shoulders back and the sleigh bell is on a cord around your neck that your correct march should create little to no noise as the bell will be against your chest. Instead of why it can work they say why it cant. We are not getting better, the good cadets are dropping as they dont learn anything during practice, it is suppose to be cadet ran program but from a learning first year to I know it all second and third year.. Dont even say anything about senior idas.

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  2. how do I get precision… how do I teach it… for instance if I was to do the 15 count rifle movements over the course of one semester and it is a week apart, with things such as spirit days, holidays and weather creating those 30 minute practices down to very little remembered. would I do right shoulder only or go through all movements, right shoulder, left shoulder, present arms and order arms. Should we teach the cadets to look at the manual or…. I dont know

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      I think a good approach is to teach the first movement, perfect it, and add on the next move, perfect it, and so on. Once you have the whole manual taught, it’s a matter of repetition and refinement.

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