Department of the Army logistics interns were tasked with teaching each other about the seven Army values: loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage.
The Instructor's Perspective
As an intern manager, I am responsible to train, develop, and mentor newly hired Department of the Army logistics interns. It is imperative that I introduce and train the seven core Army values within the first few weeks of their 15- to 18-month training program. These values are not only for Soldiers but for all Government employees to live and emulate in order to serve and protect our Nation faithfully.
I am sure the students know the definitions of the words loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage. My mission is to validate what they know and reinforce these values so that they can apply them in their own lives.
I asked myself, how do I train this set of values and have it leave a lasting impression on them? How can I foster future critical and creative thinkers? How can I show them the difference between knowing and understanding? Countless PowerPoint presentations, Army videos, and references are available to assist me in training the Army values. But I did not want to train these values in the traditional manner (a lecture). I wanted this training to be different and felt that inquiry-based learning would drive the values home.
Inquiry-based learning is an instructional strategy that is centered on problem solving, with the learners taking personal ownership of and responsibility for solving the problem. The instructor's role becomes one of a facilitator, helping them refine their thinking as the learners attain the solution.
The Students' Perspective
The Army values are the cornerstone of maintenance, supply, and transportation. When our instructor, Hope Bean, walked into the intern classroom and began questioning us about the importance of the Army values, we knew we were in for a treat. Her motivational words regarding integrity, honor, and respect made us all lean forward in our seats anticipating the next anecdote or true-to-the-warfighter story.
Tale after tale captivated our minds and imaginations until the tables turned; we were now charged with the task of researching and teaching the Army values to a class of our peers. The face of each student revealed disbelief, fear, uncertainty, and embarrassment masked by a forced, polite smile. This was something new, something different. Here we were, fresh interns, many of us with no clue about military workings, and now we were required to create a full presentation on a given Army value.
After receiving the assignment and splitting into groups, the teams quickly got to work. Despite a strong sense of team and community in our class, competition ran high and our presentations quickly became an opportunity for each intern to shine.
The presentations themselves were as varied as the personalities in our class. When interviewed later, each group confessed that individual contribution was not an issue, but boiling down the material to a short 10 minutes certainly was.
True to form, each and every presentation was unique in both format and material. Some were somber considerations of an Army value, offering insight and wisdom to the meaning and historical significance of the value. Others were entertaining, focusing instead on making a memorable impression about the sometimes comical implementation of the Army value. Some used outside sources who gave speeches about their experiences, while others staged short skits that incorporated experiences we see every day.
Some groups used PowerPoint presentations, while others created their own videos compiled of personal stories that exemplified the Army value they represented. Despite the wide variety of presentations, each group aimed to drive home the importance and significance of each Army value.
The presentation of each Army value brought forth a renewed sense of why we all accepted our new careers. We are training to become premier logisticians, and we all realize that by living and demonstrating these values, we can fully support the Soldier and the mission.
Being able to exercise these values within our careers is a great honor. As we engaged ourselves in this interactive learning, we understood what it means to serve our Nation and our Soldiers. After our presentations, we were enthusiastic and appreciated the opportunity to represent the Army and our intern program. The methodology that was chosen for our presentations allowed for diversity and a vast range of understanding.
The challenge transcended simply forming us into better employees and better leaders. It instilled a spark into the intern program, acquainting us as interns to a necessary capability in Army sustainment: the ability to respond to the unexpected.