Last night was the second session of our eight week Technician class license class. I think some of our seventeen students walked out of the building with dazed expression on their faces. And I guess that's to be expected right now, as we're out of the introductory "This is Amateur Radio" feel-good fluffy part and we're now into the heart of the course, which is basic electricity and components and all the good stuff.
The concepts of current, resistance, voltage were easily digested by their inquiring minds. The concepts of capacitance, inductance, reactance and impedance? Not so much. But Marv K2VHW and I broke it down into the simplest "lay terms" that we could and I am pretty confident that they have a basic, rudimentary (if not shaky) understanding of the concepts. I am trying pretty hard to find "real world" equivalents that they can relate to, so these concepts don't totally fly over their heads.
I have to admit that back in Ye Olden Days, when I was studying for my Novice license, I wore the very same expression on my face when I left those sessions each Tuesday evening in October and November of 1978.
If you have no concept of electricity and electronics, it CAN seem daunting. But if our students do the required reading, and maybe even do a little Googling on their own, they will have that "Aha moment!" when it all comes together.
As a class, they have several things going for them. The first is that our young students are whizzes at note taking. While Marv is handling the teaching part of a segment, I try to keep an eye on our charges, to watch facial expressions and such. The younger students have their highlighters and pens going at warp speed, taking notes and marking pertinent paragraphs and sentences in their license manuals. The older adult students are no slouches, either. But there's one important difference - their facial expressions are more telling. While the "kids" are sponges, absorbing all this stuff, every now and then, I will see one of the adults screw up their faces as if to say "What?!?" It's at that moment when I will try to pause things for a bit and try to interject an example or some such thing that they're familiar with that brings the concept home to them.
The important thing that we try to stress as much as we can (without beating them over the head with it) is that they HAVE to do the required reading homework. This way, we can answer any questions on any sticky points that they might have. We also give them the reading material that will be covered in the next week's lesson, so that they're not walking into the material blindly.
These two weeks will probably be the very hardest of the eight week class. Electrical concepts and components last night. And next week, electronic and basic radio circuits. After that, we'll get into "the good stuff" - propagation, antennas, operating procedures, setting up a station, etc. That material is probably more in line with what they expected when they were signing up for an Amateur radio course.
I will make it my business during this coming week to make up a handout with some Internet sources that they can refer to in order to make the "meat" that they were fed last night just a little more palatable. As any licensed Ham knows, this is an ongoing process that doesn't end with passing the test. In fact, it's just the very beginning.
72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!