I talk a lot of shit.
Most instructors do. Most divers do. Hell, I suppose most all people do.
We all find our little corner of the world to specialize and we start pretending to ourselves like it's the single most important facet of all existence. We get a whole bunch of ideas in our heads and we get all het up with any detractors of our philosophies. Sometimes it's politics or art history or knitting or scuba diving.
We'll argue ad nauseum over any minutiae we can think of to latch on to; with little legitimate exchange of ideas it can hardly be called debate. Without consideration and integration, people are finding it harder and harder to compromise. Instead, people tend towards deeper intransigence, no matter how inappropriately cavelier or impractically ideologically pure their position might be. And then the name-calling ensues and communities start fracturing into cliques.
For my part, I spend a great lot of time talking about the places where I see shortcomings in training and technique. And no mistake, there are a great many of them.
Most everyone can agree to bemoan, like a bunch of old codgers in rocking chairs, whittling on a porch, "Training these days, huh?" And I admit I am as guilty of it as anyone... frequently quite publicly.
However, while there are some crap instructors in the world perpetuating crap practices, there are also some astonishingly good instructors.
No matter how much you might see me ranting, I honestly don't think most instruction is awful. In all statistical likelihood it's a bell curve: a majority of instructors who are just fine, a couple who should probably not be teaching, and a couple who we should aspire to be.
The best thing we can do as divers or dive professionals or mentors or buddies is to be honest with ourselves and with the clubs of divers around us as we seek out the people on the principled end of the bell curve.
Here's a fantastic bellwether: "What other instructors would you recommend?" If the answer is, "No one, because I am the motherfucking best and the only person who can teach you to dive properly," run for the hills. Same holds true for someone who says, "You have to learn from (or dive using the philosophies of) XXXX, they're the only one who does anything properly." This person is a cult member.
In my personal experience, all bitching aside, I feel like things are actually moving in the right direction. Sure, there are instructors who I think do some daffy things, or people who are either a little too regimented or a little too laissez faire. But I can honestly say that most of the people I see working around me are pretty right on. I see hard-working and passionate people who try to evolve with the sport.
It's a good thing to see.
I mean, there are still people out there who I think should have every single card taken away, including everything at the diver-level. But that's to be expected, I'm an asshole.