The "Iceberg Theory" of Teaching


Larry "Harris" Taylor, Ph.D.

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I am a firm believer in what I have labeled "the iceberg theory" of teaching. Simply put, the amount of material that you present to your students is a small portion of the sum total of knowledge and skills that you possess. Like an iceberg, the level of expertise that is visible to the public is dependent upon a larger body of knowledge that is submerged out of sight. So, it is particularly important for instructors to continually increase their knowledge and skill level because only a portion of the total body of knowledge will appear to be available; it is this broad base of knowledge/experience that provides the hidden-from-view support for all teaching activities. The larger the base of understanding, the more material and insight will be available for you to convey to your students.


So, a primary component in effective teaching is the continual process of expanding your base of knowledge and skills because, although only the pinnacle is visible, your students will perceive the magnitude of the hidden base that defines your diving/teaching ability. 

Remember that as people most of what we are is hidden from all others.

On a more global scale, this principle underlies all credible teaching and is a good basis for anyone who desires to impart skills and knowledge to others, regardless of the target age group or the subject matter under discussion.


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About The Author: 

Larry "Harris" Taylor, Ph.D. is a biochemist and Diving Safety Coordinator at the University of Michigan. He has authored more than 200 scuba related articles. His personal dive library (See Alert Diver, Mar/Apr, 1997, p. 54) is considered one of the best recreational sources of information In North America.

  Copyright 2001-2024 by Larry "Harris" Taylor

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Use of these articles for personal or organizational profit is specifically denied.

These articles may be used for not-for-profit diving education