During a recent airline emergency, cabin pressure was lost and the oxygen masks dropped from the ceiling.  Passengers donned the masks, but not quite as instructed.

Mobile phone videos of the incident showed many passengers wearing the masks over their mouths, leaving their noses exposed to the thin air.  Breathing the thin air of an unpressurized aircraft cabin at high altitude presents the risk of hypoxia.

Every commercial airline flight begins with a passenger safety briefing from the flight crew.

In the event of the loss of cabin pressure, an oxygen mask will drop from the ceiling.  To start the flow of oxygen, pull the mask firmly toward you.  Place the mask over your nose and mouth.  Secure the elastic band around your head and breath normally.  Although the bag may not inflate, oxygen is flowing.  Secure your mask first, before assisting others.

This announcement is made at the beginning of every flight along with a demonstration.  Why was it that, in this case, many of the passengers didn’t follow directions?

Learning to Fly

A few years ago, I learned to fly airplanes.  I was at the controls of a Piper Warrior II with my instructor in the copilot seat on the right.  He gave very clear instructions on how to take off before we entered the runway.


My instructor told me about P-factor.  He clearly explained that when we line up on the centerline of the runway, I’ll advance the throttle to full power.  When the propeller speeds up, there will be a shift in the center of thrust that will pull the aircraft to the left.  He emphasized that I would have to apply right rudder to counteract this and keep the airplane on the centerline as we roll down the runway and as we climb out after takeoff.

I Did It Wrong Anyway

The instructions were clear and I understood them.  I advanced the throttle to full power and kept my eyes on the center of the runway.  The instructor was right.  P-factor pulled the airplane to the left and we were headed off the left side of the runway into the grass when he firmly said “Right rudder.  Right rudder.  Right rudder.” while patiently waiting for me to respond before rolling into the grass.

Experiential Learning

Although I had received and understood the instruction, it was clear that I didn’t know what I was doing.  It wasn’t until I had the experience of getting it wrong that I was able to understand how to get it right.

My instructor knew this would happen.  He’d been teaching people to fly for around 40 years at that point.  Rather than try to prevent the mistake, he used the mistake to teach students to prevent it in the future.

The TWI Job Instruction Method

In JI, the task is discussed and demonstrated, but isn’t considered taught until the learner has actually done it properly several times while explaining the important steps and key points.

People Will Make Mistakes

Part of a lead leader’s job is to teach.  We teach job skills along with our organization’s principles, policies, and practices.  People will inevitably get something wrong.  We have to anticipate it and use the mistakes to teach, when appropriate.

There will be times when a mistake can’t be risked for the sake of teaching.  It’s important to know that instruction alone may not convey knowledge ant prevent an error.  This is why fire extinguisher training involves actually using the fire extinguisher.

Instruction Alone Doesn’t Work

The learner needs to put the oxygen mask on over the nose and mouth, and be corrected by an instructor when mistakes are made, in order to understand how to do it correctly.

“If the learner hasn’t learned, the teacher hasn’t taught.”

  1. Nolan Meeks

    May 25, 2018 - 2:12 pm

    I call it coming close to the wall you have to come close close to the wall as possible sometimes you have to be the wall in order to get the training down what people can do it almost without thinking about it prove cognition

  2. Bob Emiliani

    May 26, 2018 - 7:43 am

    “If the learner hasn’t learned, the teacher hasn’t taught” is a catchy little saying, used and re-used all across Lean-land, but it is untrue. See https://bobemiliani.com/goodies/twi_proof.pdf. That being the case, fact-based Lean people should stop using it. It is blaming and disrespecting teachers, and a simple analysis will clearly show that the problem is more complicated than the catchy little saying would indicate, whether in the context of industry or education. See https://bobemiliani.com/blame-the-teachers-part-2/

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