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The best way to learn something is to teach it

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
I remember a forum member writing down something to that effect, once.
Well, I just found out firsthand that it can't be truer...
This fall I've taken the opportunity to act as an assistant skating instructor at our local club/team.
And it's really so. Despite not being much of a skater (never raced, only watched, just followed for years the team training sessions) and most of my time doing it just as a cross training aid, I've found myself explaining theory to studentss (which I have first to study it myself), and straining to be clear, to motivate, to explain, to invent ways to have them doing the most boring exercises so they'll learn important moves (braking without brakes as an example), to have students enjoy the stuff and want to come back for more...
Had a short, one day go, a couple of seasons ago, to substitute missing instructors on a for kids course opening day and enjoyed it.
So decided to try it again, for adults this time.
Next step will be to attend formal training and take the exams to qualify as an instructor...maybe, if the team president will be inclined to "hire" me again ("hire" in a loose way..I'm not paid, doing it just for the fun of it, at least for this time, in the future...we shall see)
If only, to become a ski instructor "here" (in italy) would be as easy...

Now...winter is nearing and soon I'll store my skates away...skiing season is approaching!!!!
post #2 of 10

Do you think the pressure is on to "be better" when you're the instructor? 

Or

Is it the necessity to know the sport more in depth in order to teach it?

 

post #3 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Trekchick View Post

Do you think the pressure is on to "be better" when you're the instructor? 

Or

Is it the necessity to know the sport more in depth in order to teach it?

 



Is there a difference?

post #4 of 10

The farther you go, the more there is to learn.

 

If you are serious about teaching, the  possibilities about learning is infinite.

post #5 of 10

Agreed. I learnt most of my skiing through teaching it. Working on my personal skiing in my own time was good but working on other's skiing was incredible for my own skiing. Seeing what worked and what didn't with my students increased my understanding of skiing immensely. Observing common errors and finding permanent solutions (not quick fixes). Discovering the diversity of learning styles and therefore teaching styles. Figuring out stuff for others made it so much simpler when it came to figuring stuff out for myself. These made more difference to my personal skiing than all the turns I could have put together on hill solo.

 


turnshape - a (not so) technical approach to skiing.

 

 

post #6 of 10
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Trekchick View Post

Do you think the pressure is on to "be better" when you're the instructor? 

Or

Is it the necessity to know the sport more in depth in order to teach it?

 


I'd say the two are interlinked in a virtuous circle...One has to start someplace, but IMHO the first will come as a consequence, and in due time one will be better and come to know the sport in depth and then again better, and deeper and so on and on...

I really would liek a go at teaching ski, to confirm that (also, I'm more confident in my skiing skills than in my skating ones)
As an example, I had to explain to a pupil (grown up skater) how to skate backward, I knew the theory but after the first attempts some years ago I had decided not to "waste my time" at practicing it so I let that drop...
Well, the need to explain it to another person and demonstrate it to him, did the trick..when explaining to him I saw the light of understanding going off in his eyes, so I said to myself...why not?
I now skate backward with good degree of confidence. And am sure it'll translate in better switch skiing this winter too.
and now I am better
post #7 of 10

In "real life" I'm a teacher.  Yes, I learn from teaching.  But I always teach something I "know."   Sounds like a contradiction, but it isn't.

 

What I learn as I teach is not how to do the thing I'm teaching.  It's how to break it down and explain it and demonstrate it to my students, and how to convince them to want to learn it.  What works for one student doesn't necessarily work for others.  I'm involved in an endless progression of finding ways to communicate the how and the why and the excitement embedded in learning whatever they are working on.  

 

So I guess what I learn from teaching is how to teach.  I'm a studio art teacher.  

post #8 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gigatoh View Post

Agreed. I learnt most of my skiing through teaching it. Working on my personal skiing in my own time was good but working on other's skiing was incredible for my own skiing. Seeing what worked and what didn't with my students increased my understanding of skiing immensely. Observing common errors and finding permanent solutions (not quick fixes). Discovering the diversity of learning styles and therefore teaching styles. Figuring out stuff for others made it so much simpler when it came to figuring stuff out for myself. These made more difference to my personal skiing than all the turns I could have put together on hill solo.

 

 

 

First of all, I agree with the initial claim 100%.  That's why, when I really want my students to know something, I make them teach it.  On a simplistic level, you can't begin to do a good job teaching something if you don't understand it through and through, absolutely.

 

But simply understanding something through and through is not enough to teach well.  That's whats significant ín Gigatoh's and LiquidFeet's posts.  You not only need to understand something but you need to understand the learners, all of the possibilities for getting through to them, the potential pitfalls, the nuances of instruction, the varieties of motivation, etc.  THAT's what makes teaching a skill and an avocation worthy of respect.  There is something profound and involved in teaching -- and it's worth noting and countering the too many people who have been suckered into the old cynicism "those that can't do, teach". 

 

....sorry to go off track, but I'm a teacher in real life, and a director of a center for developing teaching skills. and I get excited about this stuff and the all-too-common derogation of teachers.....

 

 

post #9 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by tch View Post

First of all, I agree with the initial claim 100%.  That's why, when I really want my students to know something, I make them teach it.  On a simplistic level, you can't begin to do a good job teaching something if you don't understand it through and through, absolutely.

 

But simply understanding something through and through is not enough to teach well.  That's whats significant ín Gigatoh's and LiquidFeet's posts.  You not only need to understand something but you need to understand the learners, all of the possibilities for getting through to them, the potential pitfalls, the nuances of instruction, the varieties of motivation, etc.  THAT's what makes teaching a skill and an avocation worthy of respect.  There is something profound and involved in teaching -- and it's worth noting and countering the too many people who have been suckered into the old cynicism "those that can't do, teach". 

 

....sorry to go off track, but I'm a teacher in real life, and a director of a center for developing teaching skills. and I get excited about this stuff and the all-too-common derogation of teachers.....

 

 

 

What you are saying is not off track at all.   I went through my college years enduring all kinds of denigration thrown at those of us who chose to go into art education instead of pure fine art.  I wondered for years whether to call myself an artist or a teacher because of this stigma.  (I was young....) 

 

Teaching is an intellectual and creative challenge of the first rank.  Everything you say about it is right on the mark. 

 

Despite the number of years I've taught, I still run into situations where I don't know what to do, where my previous experience just doesn't prepare me for this student who is doing this unexpected thing.  I then get to learn something new as I navigate my way through the situation.  Sometimes what I learn is about this one person, sometimes it's about me, often it's about handling the individual within the group, and sometimes it's actually about art.  

 

I've learned all kinds of great stuff about art from my students who know less than me, by the way.   They sometimes come up with potent ways of doing things that I just wouldn't have ever thought of.  If I get to teach skiing long enough, I hope it will start happening on the snow too.

post #10 of 10
Quote:

  There is something profound and involved in teaching -- and it's worth noting and countering the too many people who have been suckered into the old cynicism "those that can't do, teach". 

 

 

When I first heard that line so many years ago, it depressed me quite a bit! But then I came to truly respect and appreciate the craft of teaching. It's a natural talent as well as a developed skill that is often overlooked. (I'm incredibly picky about who teaches me now, whether it's yoga, cooking etc) It's not just a job that imparts knowledge and the acquirement of skills. It's the privilege to guide and mould someone without the 'constraints' that parenthood sometimes entail. My personal growth has been influenced as much by my teachers/ trainers as they have been by my parents. 

 

This is a rather big claim but I'm going with it :) I'm never going to be as good a skier as some are. That's a given. But perhaps I am more likely to be able to teach someone to ski like them (or better!) than those good skiers can. Because one thing I've observed is 'Those that can, usually can't teach!'.

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