In the 1970's, I (W6NBC) began teaching ham license classes. I assumed that the traditional full-theory style of class that most radio clubs offer was best. Prospectives would come once a week for a 2-3-hour evening lecture. The complete course would last several weeks. At a later date, the graduate would take a license exam, most often at another location. But soon I became very frustrated. No matter how good my instruction was. Few “first-nighters” were willing to attend the complete course and never got their license. I realized that the public just won’t endure a lengthy ham class.
So I speculated. Could the average person qualify for a ham license in just ONE DAY? That would take "the sting" out of the traditional class. But would only one day even be possible? Could a prospective ham master the material in so short a time? Would they tune out to be a good ham? | READ WHAT THE ARRL THINKS |
To find out, I took a chance. In 1995, I nervously pinned a "Get Your Ham License in One Day" flyer on a bulletin board at work, a large electronics firm in San Jose, CA. Three weeks later, they came. I did nothing more than provided each with a printed copy of the Technician Question Pool and set them to reading it for three hours – no lecturing, no explaining, no teaching. We took fifteen-minute breaks every hour, had lunch at noon, came back for three hours in the afternoon. Then at 4 PM we administered the test. It was all over in just one day.
To my astonishment, only one of the two dozen attendees did not pass. From that day onward, we do it exactly the same way. No lecture, no class, no theory, just a guided reading of the question pool. It is a winning formula, even though I had stumbled onto it by accident.
In the intervening years,several thousand have succeeded this way. Never have we fallen below 85%. Our youngest was ten, the oldest over ninety. And interestingly, few knew anything in advance about ham radio or electronics. It isn't just engineers who can pass this way. Short-term memory and the discipline we provide is the key to success, not technical knowledge alone.
When we expanded the program, some began to wonder, "Is this method a good idea?" Does it produce adequately qualified hams> Or can only a longer conventional class do that? I wondered this myself. Time, however, has been the clear "proof of the pudding." In my area, for example, there is not a repeater which does not today boast a sigificant number of our graduates.
Today, we are entirely confident that the FCC made the correct choice in allowing this style of license acquisition. In fact, other Federal license programs have since adopted the same practice, based on the success of the ham program. One-day graduates have demonstrated that getting a license that quickly does indeed adequately fulfill the intent of ham radio law and practice. Our graduates are not substandard, for a very good reason.
One of the cardinal purposes of ham radio is that the hobby itself is the primary teacher, not pre-license study. The intent of the law is clear. Most of a ham's training takes place "on the air."
Federal radio law really ONLY requires that a person thoroughly reads the rules and regulation before receiving a license. The highly responsible ham community is why all new hams, not just our graduates, follow the rules. Our hobby has long been justly proud of this. What's more, the broad appeal of our program attracts a much wider range of the public to the hobby than the conventional approach. This we consider our most positive influence. If nothing else, it helps to dispel the "classical" image of a ham as a "technical egghead." We take great pride in this.
Here’s one final example of the value of a one-day license. We’ve found that more of our graduates on average make their way into public safety programs. They tell us they ONLY enrolled in our program to become active in a disaster program. Attendees with RV’s, boats and model airplane enthusiasts say much the same. They tell us, had it not been possible to receiver their license quickly, they would not have become a ham.
In our view, "Get Your License in One Day" is having a very positive influence on ham radio. Our graduates are building the hobby. We encourage you to consider doing the same in your ham community or club. We will be very happy to assist you; “we know the ropes.” It's a non-profit volunteer program that we hope will spread. My early disillusionment with the "conventional" way to teach ham radio has more than paid off. Why not join us? You WILL most definitely be serving your hobby.