For some time now, there has been a lively conversation in the fire arms training industry about having all women classes. There is a school of thought that women should be integrated into classes with men, that there is no difference in the learning process between the two. Another school of thought says that there is a major difference between the way women learn and the way men learn.
Of course, to make a blanket statement in either direction would be foolish. Just as there are no two men alike and no two women alike, there are no absolutes as to how one group learns as oppose to the other. All I can do is relate my experiences with regards to how people learn and how they respond in the classroom and on the range.
From my experience, women tend to ask more questions in the classroom and on the range than men. I see the reason for this as two-fold. First, women tend to be less experienced with firearms than men, so they will, naturally, have more questions. Whereas, men who have experience with firearms may already know the answers to questions that a woman may have. However, I have seen situations where in a mixed class a man may not ask a question because he is expected to already know it and doesn’t want to embarrass himself. Women don’t seem to have that problem.
The other reason that I have seen for women asking more questions is that they tend to need and want more detailed information. They just seem to be more inquisitive. As an instructor, I find this massively refreshing. Teaching to a class that has little interaction is hard. It requires that I actively encourage the students, men and/or women to become engaged. Engagement in class encourages learning, whether it is initiated by the instructor or the student.
As I said earlier, there is no such thing as a common formula into which you can put women or men, but these are just some of my observations. Do I advocate for all women classes? Absolutely! Some women seem to be a bit stifled in a class with men, even more so if they are in class with the husbands. Ladies in all women classes seem to be less inhibited in asking questions, and that is a good thing.
Some instructors have lower expectations of women than men. I think this is a gross mistake. Scrimping on firearms training can have tragic consequences. I am a strong believer in ensuring good training in any endeavor, including firearms training. Shooting is a fun sport but it can also be a life-saver. When your life depends on how well you were trained, you want to make sure that training was up to the task.
As an instructor, I want all of my students to have all of their questions answered. As I tell all students, the intent of the test at the end of the course is not to see how well they can take a test, but rather to make sure they have the information. I love the interaction and engagement with the students, all students. If your instructor doesn’t encourage this interaction, find a new instructor.