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Training, Information and Gas Stations
By Joe Bouchard
Published: 08/22/2011

Gas station Corrections training is like a gas station in some ways. That may seem like a strange statement. But the parallels are interesting.

Once upon a time, the only choice one had when purchasing gasoline was a full-service station. Neither self-service stations nor completely automated existed decades ago.

However, things change. Now it is a challenge to find one of the formerly plentiful full service gas stops. It must same way, corrections training is not what it once was. We hear stories of the past from veterans who declare spartan instruction that they received. Some said that you were simply handed a set of keys and you learned that she went out.

I am sure that my experiences are much like anyone who started corrections employment in the last century. I recall 40 hours per year in the classroom with occasional additional training as mandated. Years rolled on and computers became omnipresent in the work world. Naturally we in corrections were impacted. We spend less time in the classroom and more time before monitor. (Please see Eating the E-training Elephant at www.corrections.com/joe_bouchard July 1, 2010.)

On the face of it, classroom training is like a full-service element of the gas station. Computer-based training, of course, seems parallel to a self-service gas station. And it remains that one way or another we all need to obtain gasoline and training.

Still, the analogy is not perfect. For example, when you are perplexed by some part of computer-based training, you have help at hand. There is almost always a willing institutional training officer just an e-mail away – ready to facilitate your understanding of the material. This is not true of the modern gas station. The mechanics quite simply did not move to self-service stations.

Many students in our profession move beyond the traditional and computer-based training to sate their curiosity. Those who wish to expand their vocational knowledge base can find other resources. Television is loaded with corrections oriented documentaries. Books on the topic are easier to find with the Internet. Also, corrections professionals who write have expanded beyond print and into the online sources. There are ample articles of all types at just a click away.

With so much opportunity for new knowledge, there is a greater risk of misinformation. After all, a beguiling website does not mean that the content is flawless or even true

Of course, staff can bring any questions to their institutional training officer. Who better to turn to for clarification on industry topics? While trainers have specialties, the best trainers can adeptly traverse the webs of knowledge because of their broad information base. And if a trainer is stumped, this is rectified by activating the training network.

I believe that the proliferation of Internet information on corrections is positive for the profession. More information, whether it's accurate or ridiculous, stimulates discussion and makes for smarter student. This in turn challenges the trainer, keeping them on their professional toes. All of this enlivens our profession.

Unlike the full-service gas station, corrections training is not dead. It is merely changed. In the end, is all about delivering information to professionals in order for them to perform their job well and in a safe manner.

Visit the Joe Bouchard page

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