REPOST: Pay No Attention to that Man Behind the Curtain – Cause & Effect of Non-Elmers

A repost from January 2007 that still rings true today.  This morning I was reading various forum posts by amateurs who couldn’t see anything positive and missed the point that by Elmering we better ourselves as well.

Original publication


A wonderful aspect of Amateur Radio is the on going opportunity to share what we learn, or in “Ham Speak” to be an “Elmer” by teaching & mentoring.

There is something so special about encouraging someone to get on the air, or work their first contest, or to try digital modes, or to take a turn as net control, or any of the 100’s of other operating experiences.

I’ve been lucky and met some very fine people who have taken time to explain what to do, shared their experiences on what worked well for them, and have offered both encouragement and advice.

A puzzling side of the hobby is those of us who purposely miss out the chance to share, rather holding-close their knowledge & never passing on what they have learned.

One wonders if they are taken with the mystique of the hobby – puffing up & making a display for effect and not disposed to explaining how they pulled off that DX contact or Managed that Net. Sort of the thing like in the Wizard of Oz where the great Oz was really just a clever man who’s nature was to not share his understanding of technology, hiding behind it as something greater than he actually was.

Or is it the more likely situation that not everyone can Elmer and those who might need to be learn how just like they learned all their other radio skills?

The few of us to who instructing & mentoring comes with great difficulty because the strengths of our personalities are different than the needs of the tasks of an Elmer are rare.

But those of use who haven’t yet discovered a Elmering pattern, a set of methods that work for us, are common.

When given confidence that they know the material, the situation is under control, and with the knowledge that what they are doing is important & special, many an Amateur would do just great at Elmering.

Not everyone takes well to the “toss them in and see if they swim” introduction to Elmering – the Radio equivalent where without much preparation you are pushed off the end of the dock and told to “just swim.”

Most of us like to be prepared to do something we’ve not done & might find difficult.

In my industry there are several “Train the Trainer” programs, where specific skills are taught to people who will instead of just using the skills (Technical or Safety) are expected to teach those skills to others.

Maybe it is time for clubs & organizations to look at doing “Train the Trainer” Amateur Radio education?

Every opportunity to help another Radio Amateur should be a natural call to action to share, teach and encourage, or we’ll be no better than that “Man Behind the Curtain” pretending to be “The Great Oz.”



One thought on “REPOST: Pay No Attention to that Man Behind the Curtain – Cause & Effect of Non-Elmers

  1. Nice repost..and original article. There’s an old saying amongst us college professors. If you want to learn something, teach it! By Elmering, we learn aspects of the hobby more deeply and, ultimately, more broadly. But it takes the equivalence of getting off the couch and into the dance floor.

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