Sunday, February 8, 2015

The Plateau

On the Way to Forester Pass > 13,000'.
The pass seems a long, long way away
pla-teau (n)
1. an area of relatively high ground
2. a state of little or no change following a period of activity or progress

Learning Plateau “…in learning motor skills, a leveling-off process, or a plateau, is normal, and can be expected after an initial period of rapid improvement. ...  If the student is aware of this learning plateau, frustration may be lessened.”

Who'd-a-thunk-it?... Learning plateaus are not unique to aspiring private pilots, or instrument pilots or commercial pilots, even aspiring flight instructors can experience them. I've had my share of learning plateaus, especially in flight training. Is it any surprise I'd have one in my training to become a CFI?

The last month or so has been rough... my training progress has stalled. The new methods my CFI is using to help me remove the emotion from my errors have worked, so I'm not beating myself up so much for individual flying problems. I'm sure getting good at diagnosing what I'm doing wrong, but I am no closer to flying the way I need to than I was a month ago, in some respects I feel like I'm going backward. Motivation near an all time low, finding excuses to not write my lesson plans, not preparing for lessons and hoping flying lessons would get cancelled. Classic symptoms of a plateau, the worst I've experienced to date. Of course I didn't recognize them.

It took a chat with my CFI yesterday, sharing my frustration and some of the outlying, unrelated,  issues that have been bothering me to recognize it for what it is. Of course he says, "The lesson within the lesson.... You're experiencing a learning plateau." And, like you read in the magazines, blogs, and the Aviation Instructor's Handbook, knowing what I'm experiencing is normal and not some indication saying I'll never be a CFI is good. It helps reduce the angst and doubt. Remembering my past plateaus and that they all ended helps. It doesn't help that I have other unrelated issues bothering me... but talking about those helped too. One thing my CFI said that I like. He recognized my level of determination, even at this stage of frustration and disillusionment. He says I practically ooze determination.

I don't know if my plateau will end sooner or later. I sure hope its sooner! If it's not at least I know I have the determination, I call it stubbornness, to continue. As my brother said once, passionate people keep going when reasonable people would stop. I'm nothing if not passionate about aviation.

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