When the instructor used her as an example, that made her shame public. The fact that her fall provided a great "teachable moment" to the group was irrelevant to her. Years later when she told me that story she was still shaking with anger. I bet the instructor had no idea this was going on in her head.
This is one of the many reasons I could never be an instructor. Way too much psychology, compassion, and general mind-reading skill required. (I'm aware that people who are good at these things think of them as near-common-sensical, not as mind-reading. More power to them.)
Yeah. Good insight. I'm sure one minute of this early in a lesson will help tons of people lighten up mentally and physically, and learn better as a result. (I loved @Kneale Brownson's approach of flopping down on the snow with the student, for solidarity.) It probably won't work for everyone, though. You are going to shame certain people inadvertently but inevitably, just by showing up for work and attempting to do your job. Don't let that get to you too much.
If an event was traumatizing enough to make you hate the activity I would argue it there was some damage, I know I used a strong word...
Anyway, I don't know if the fact that it happened 40 years ago makes a difference. Even today I don't think many ski instructors discuss falling with their students.
If anything is to be taken away from this thread I think it should be that falling is part of skiing, it is a normal thing and should not be feared or taken as a sign of inability to perform/inferiority. Falling should be used a teaching tool, explaining why it happened, how to avoid it and, for advanced skiers, how to use the information to push even harder.
Right, so what we're really getting down to, here, is this: Many people have constitutional defensiveness and low self-esteem when it comes to doing anything sports- or athletics-related. For them, any public display of their physical (in)abilities is torture now, just like it was in first grade and fourth grade and seventh grade and ever since, complete with all the baggage that goes with that kind of a history. There may be a girl flavor (beauty contest, anyone?) and a boy flavor (how hard can you throw and catch, and do you cry if you get hit?), perhaps, but it's essentially the same stuff about bodies and the associated atavistic but all-too-real hormone-driven desirability-as-a-mate thing. Meanwhile you have other people, like james123 and many others on Epic, who are very much at home in their bodies-in-motion and feel like falling is just a part of one big happy cosmic Ultimate Frisbee game. Why can't everyone just join in and roll with it?
I feel qualified to talk about this because I have been in both places at different times in my life. As a child and teen, I was always the skinny uncoordinated kid cowering in the corner of the gym during "murder ball." The kid whose hands were always far too tiny to pick up - let alone actually throw - a football. (And then, more to the point, the kid who had to deal with the fallout from these failures for the next hour, day, year, decade. Thank god I didn't have to go to college with the kids who grew up with me.) So, Sibhusky, I get embarrassment about physical shortcomings. Really. I do.
More recently, as a 50-year-old, I am the one who is still more or less fit and rolling up the hills on my bike or down the race course on skis, passing most of the guys who once were pelting me in the face with the goddamn fifty-seven-pound red rubber ball. Or, more likely, they are just button-straining Jabbas on the couch, watching football and taking their hypertension meds and paying attention to the Rogaine ads. (Screw you, Junior High Bullies everywhere; you deserve the payback.) Now I am the one who gets impatient with the folks who can't muster the gumption to just go for it. It took me 40 years, and I had to jump a lot of hurdles, but I figured it out. They can, too. Right?
So what is my point? My point is that as an instructor I'd guess you have to be prepared to deal with these two RADICALLY different kinds of histories and world views. If you're a Sibhusky, just saying "it's part of sport, so deal with it or go home" is simply never, ever going to be helpful to learning, no matter how many Jameses you have chanting it. And if you're a James, having the instructor waste a lot of valuable class time "coddling the sissies" will always be infuriating. You want to get on with the real business at hand. I'm sure some Liquid Feets of the world are clever enough to deal with this disparity. Beyond that, if you're a student at one of the far ends of this spectrum, I'm thinking you're going to want to seek out a class or an instructor that targets your perspective.
[Edit: I had deleted the body of this in favor of fatbob's more concise post. Later I saw that a bunch of people had liked it, so I figured I should put it back the way it was.]
Edited by qcanoe - 7/22/14 at 6:32am