Here’s the basis of being an ethical firearms instructor: a strong sense of responsibility toward your students. If you don’t feel that strong sense of responsibility, you shouldn’t be teaching. (Or, at least, you should be teaching something that doesn’t matter, like parochial underwater basket-weaving or the history of surfing.)
Excellent teachers show that they feel that responsibility in several ways.
1.) They get extra training, far above what they “need,” because they want to be sure they can give students good instruction. I put “need” in scare quotes for a reason: as a child, I lived (briefly!) in a third-world country. One of the hallmarks of the horrible education system in that impoverished country was its low standards for teachers. Even as a child, I was shocked to learn that a first grade teacher simply had to have graduated from second grade — nothing more. There are firearms instructors today who regard that third-world, third-rate standard more than adequate for teaching people how to defend their very lives; they feel that it’s enough for them to be barely ahead of their students. I celebrate those who believe and act otherwise!
2.) They work overtime to be sure what they teach is accurate and holds up. These instructors study different techniques and measure those techniques not just against common sense, but against actual performance. They study how crime happens and they study ways people effectively defend themselves from violence. They work to understand important ideas such as how human brains work, how bodies behave under stress, and how to coach someone in a physical skill. They find good reasons to support the techniques they teach, and they never teach a technique simply because someone else told them it was a good idea. They do their homework.
3.) They make efforts to tailor what they teach to the students they have in front of them. These instructors strive to avoid one-size-fits-all solutions to problems. They work to understand their student’s specific struggle before suggesting a solution. This is more work than simply throwing “the technique” out there for your students, but it’s also more likely to become an integrated part of your students’ survival plan.
There are other ways good instructors show they feel that sense of responsibility. What’s your favorite?