Aren't they the same thing?
How do you learn?
Whenever we set out to gain new skills or knowledge, we go through a process that has some common elements that apply to everyone.
Our first learning experiences often come when we are children, and so this is a good example to use to talk about what usually happens when we learn.
As children, there are usually a lot of new things to learn all the time, for a long time! Our brains get used to that, and we often adapt to this way of continual learning. As we get older, we don't often stay in school and instead go off and do other things - this can then reduce our ability to learn as it is no longer a conscious, daily event. As adults, we might be more focused and have developed more mental skills and resources to help us learn if we put our minds to it, though.
One thing that you may have experienced is that different people develop and learn at different rates. You may have had some classes separated by ability and even had a "top set" at school. I don't want to talk about why these differences occur, but simply accept they are a part of life.
What is a Course?
A course (sometimes called a programme) is designed to take someone through a development process to add new knowledge or skills in a logical way so that some steps should only come after earlier steps have been understood or mastered. If we think about a scuba diving course, then an agency (or individual) has set out the content they wish the diver to learn. They design that course using well known learning techniques and use a variety of methods for developing and finally testing the diver has in fact achieved what they set out to do.
Depending on the goals of the course, they can vary in the quantity of "things" they want someone to learn or be able to do by the end. For example, a University degree can take between three and four years to complete, but for some disciplines like Law or Medicine, it can take much longer. These durations have been established over time, with most people being able to achieve the goal in that time.
While you are taking a course, you are "in training". You are learning and developing in order to meet the course goals.
The course itself can have an influence on your learning.
The learning environment can have a huge impact on your learning - for example, if you find the teacher is dull or doesn't speak clearly, then that is going to have an effect. The actual subjects you are learning can also be a big factor. I enjoy science and mathematics, so when I try to learn a language, I do that more slowly than learning something scientific.
This same idea can be quite evident in scuba diving, where there are a lot of practical parts requiring physical skills to be developed. I was not a natural sportsman, so some tasks involving physical co-ordination or fine motor controls were harder for me to learn and develop when working on improving a fin kick or in-water stability.
It is not possible to say how long you will take to learn what is required and be able to do what is needed to reach a specific goal. The chances are that you will fit in with the majority of people and be able to reach your goal in the average time, but there is no guarantee of that.
Your incoming skill level will have a big influence on your learning experience. No one would start a maths degree without first having a suitable lower level skill set. More of that in another post.
What this means for you is that you should approach your course with an idea of how long it might take, but that this is not a guarantee of how long you need.
When you take a diving course, you are making an agreement with your instructor to each give your best and to work together to reach your goal. You should both be honest about how it is going, what either of you can do to improve the situation. Each day, your instructor is "coming to work" and so there is compensation for their time and expertise - you are paying to be trained. They will continue to work for as long as it takes you to reach your goal, and this is one key differentiator between a training philosophy built around you and your needs, rather than "lumping you in" with other people and delivering only one fixed programme.
If you come back to the idea of the University or school courses, then you had a lot of "slack" built in.
You have two days off every week, and several weeks off every year over the entire course. These "extra" days can be used as needed for additional work, repeating things, and generally giving more time to take in information and practice.
When you are taking a diving course. It is often done in straight days without these buffers - and that's not always a good thing.
Sometimes there can be bad weather, causing you to need extra days
Some days you might not be feeling your best or not slept well
Some days you may need to repeat things to raise your skill level
Some days you might need a rest day from all the work!
Learn more about the way I run the training here.
Take your time and think about what would work best for you 😊
If you have something to add, please leave a comment, and please share your experiences.