November 1995
IVy 24

Engraining (An Overview)

By Jim Burtles, England1

MY WORK INVOLVES TRAINING people to deal with emergencies which may suddenly strike their calm ordered world. They must be able to respond immediately and effectively to a rare and unexpected situation. Their performance under abnormal conditions could, quite literally, be a matter of life and death. There is no margin for errors or delays.

There was a clear need for an effective training method. An ideal opportunity to apply some practical scientology. After a couple of interesting experiments, a few ARC breaks and various cognitions, I now have a workable approach. "Overlearning"2 and drilling are certainly keys to laying down the correct behaviour template which will manifest itself under stress.

In other words - "Practice makes Perfect". The question is, or was, "How much practice?" and "How perfect?" (Original answer = "Lots of practice" and "Far from perfect". Improved answer = "Lots of practice, on the right gradient, gets close to perfect.")

I use the term engraining to describe a complete coaching schedule which leads to an Ingrained Ability. Basically this is a gradient approach which takes into account all the potential barriers to study. Then we gradually raise the standard of performance by means of a series of drills similar to TRs, including the final polish which comes from "bull-baiting".

The programme
There are 8 steps in the Engraining programme. We prepare the student to confront the subject and gradually build up to bullbaited drills. In this way we can develop what I now call "Fluency under Stress".

Lots of people set out to acquire a skill but soon retire from the learning process. They assume that a complete understanding is unnecessary and they can't really be bothered with lots of practice. There are plenty of good solid excuses for this dilettante approach. They say that they are too busy; or lack of confront and no faith in the teaching method might cause them to "blow".

Others give up at Understanding, "Once I know it, I can do it." It is quite easy to convince oneself that acquiring real expertise is an unnecessary hardship. One can manage with a certain amount of knowledge and a good deal of misplaced confidence. "Well, it has always worked for me in the past."

Many give up as soon as they can do the basic actions. "After all, I can go through the motions, what more could anyone possibly expect - Dedication?" There are those who go on to achieve Competence or even Fluency, because they are attracted to the subject or have an aptitude. Amongst them are the so-called "naturals" who don't realise where this "gift" comes from. They may even deny the possibility of past lives, despite the skills which they have so obviously brought with them.

The question is "How did they develop these skills in the first place?" They have probably invested lifetimes drilling and drilling in order to produce this "instant" effect, sometimes called "talent".

However, a comprehensive programme of exercises, tackled on a steady gradient, can enhance an ability until one approaches Consummate Ability. This state can only be attained through commitment to a properly constructed training regime.

The steps
The Engraining programme is built around a graded series of objectives:

1 Clarity. . . . . . . . . . . . ."Able to confront the subject."

2 Perception. . . . . . . . . "Able to learn about the subject."

3 Understanding. . . . . . ."Knows what to do."

4 Replication. . . . . . . . . "Can do the basic actions."

5 Competence. . . . . . . . "Performs the actions effectively."

6 Fluency . . . . . . . . . . . ."Performs without effort."

7 Automaticity. . . . . . . . ."Performs without thinking."

8 Ingrained. . . . . . . . . . . "Performs reliably under pressure."

The first step is to check for clarity or "An individual who is able to confront the subject". We deal with any objections, misconceptions and emotional reactions to the subject by discussion, explanation or illustration.

During a fire training exercise, one trainee seemed unable to aim the extinguisher properly. We talked about this. Apparently he was working with his eyes closed. He was "afraid to look into the fIre". He felt safer if he couldn't see it. Almost as soon as he said this he smiled and asked to try again. Using one hand to shield his face he cautiously approached the flames and put out a small fIre. He felt pleased, he had confronted and conquered the subject. So we let him 'play with fIre' for a while. By the end of the afternoon he was happy to tackle a real inferno.

Later steps include replication or "An individual who can do the basic actions." Once they can do the basic action, we can twin them up and press on towards the final goal. Eventually we introduce heavy bullbaiting to produce the End Product - "An individual who performs reliably under pressure". Anyone with this level of ability has an air of certainty which instils confidence in everyone around them. This is enough to make any group successful.

In order to retain the Consummate Ability which they have worked for, the students will need to continue to train and drill regularly. Naturally, if they use the skill in their normal life, the need for ongoing training and drilling may be reduced. For example, people in the emergency services, such as fire, police and ambulance are continually testing and honing their skills.

As you may have noticed, there is a strong undercurrent of Ron's tech running through the whole of this programme. That might explain why it works so well. What do you think?

Engraining is a practical training method for the development of reliable individual performance under pressure.

Ingrained ability is an ability which has been learned so thoroughly that it has become instinctive for all practical purposes. Ingrained is the result of Engraining.

Consummate ability Is the very highest level of competence which approaches the purely theoretical possibility of an absolute or perfect ability.

1 see also IVy 15, page 7, "Disasters and The Restabilisation Story".
2 IVy 11, page 9, "The Importance of Drills".