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# Seeing the whole picture - Page 2

I was referring to your post where you said that all students should be at least at the average.

As @sharpedges pointed out, that's impossible.  By definition the average has to have data points above and below it.   If anyone is above it, by definition there must be people below.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SkiMangoJazz

Have you heard the story of the statistician who drowned walking across a lake who's average depth was 2 feet?

clever :) Tell the full story so we can see the whole picture. :)

Quote:
Originally Posted by SkiMangoJazz

I was referring to your post where you said that all students should be at least at the average.

As @sharpedges pointed out, that's impossible.  By definition the average has to have data points above and below it.   If anyone is above it, but definition there must be people below.

I had a math professor in an upper level class who came in after the first exam with a hang-dog look on his face, slightly shaking his head, and said,

"Hmmm, some of you did better than others on this test..."

and then he looked up, smiled and said...

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
"but others did worse, so I guess it evens out!"
Should I thank you two for pointing out the obvious? Or chide you both for being so obtuse? An effort to get students to a certain point does not imply they all will get there. Can we move on now, or are you guys intent on derailing this thread with these silly interruptions?

ah, what's the point?  Deleted.

Found this pic in an email ad for a golf instruction program. Could this be a good model for a see the whole picture approach to instruction?

Quote:
Originally Posted by justanotherskipro

Should I thank you two for pointing out the obvious? Or chide you both for being so obtuse? An effort to get students to a certain point does not imply they all will get there. Can we move on now, or are you guys intent on derailing this thread with these silly interruptions?

Jasp, a benchmark for success may be one of the most important contributions to this discussion.  You glossed over this important point by defining it as the average place of progress.   This is unhelpful to anyone else, because it only has meaning in your own mind.  Over many years of experience you have come to a sense of what is an average class performance, and you would like to make sure that no class performs worse than this.  But, over time, if you can accomplish this then you will have a higher average and gradually your sense of average will change.  Also, other schools that are more or less advanced will have different average levels.  So, that long paragraph you wrote about judging against the average can be summed up by saying that you are always trying to improve by working with poor performers.   Really, you’re just pointing out the obvious managerial technique of looking to those that do well to inspire direction for those that aren’t doing as well.

I think the criticism you’ve received above is not derailing the thread, but pointing out that there really isn’t much substance to what you are saying, and it’s not answering any of the questions you posed in the opening post.

Quote:
Originally Posted by justanotherskipro

Or showing them where the deep parts are so they can avoid getting in over their head. Just like we do out on the hill.

The first time I ever skied was in Bulgaria in 1974 as a twelve year old. After being given our gear, we spent the morning learning how to control our speed and direction with a wedge. After lunch we were free to practice our new skills on the bunny slopes. Instead, my friend and I took the gondola to the top of the mountain and spent the afternoon drowning on terrain way over our heads. I'm sure we both destroyed the vision our instructor had of a patient, paced progression of technique and terrain.

The big picture also has to take into account what students do outside of the influence of your class on their own time.

IMHO teaching on appropriate (not too advanced) terrain is GREAT, but limitting access on the lift ticket in the beginner package to beginner terrain SUCKS!  While they shouldn't be pushed into terrain they don't want to ski, they should have the freedom to ski where-ever the hell they want to.

I also think it important to let the student know what you are teaching them, why they are learning this now, where they are going and how this fits in with where they are going.

As to the music, Santana has better imho:

Ghost:  I agree brother.  Although some of us really like that guitar solo in Make Somebody Happy.

I posted that particular Santana opus not only because it conveys my goal as instructor to "make somebody happy, make somebody strong," but because music itself represents instructing by transference.  Not really a skill transference, but an emotional transference.

Music is just aural emotion.  Nothing but emotion.  Music serves no purpose or function other than to convey or to create emotion.

When we are emotionally "moved" by music, often we move our bodies physically.  That is called dancing.

Guess what?  There is no useful purpose or function for free skiing except for the emotion that moving our bodies free from friction makes us feel.

Skiing makes us feel joy.

That was the purpose of posting the music.  To remind music and ski instructors not lose sight of the true purpose of both music and skiing - joy.

We all know it.  But sometimes we don't show it.

* Racing of, course, is somewhat different than free skiing.

Tim, I completely agree with you about the music/skiing similarities.  It's something I've posted about many times over the years.

Skiing is self-expression.  As I wrote in my log a few years ago in frustration with the often piss-poor training and criticism that I was receiving.

"Skiing is making love with the mountain, and no one is going to tell me how to make love."

Finally we are getting somewhere. Fun most certainly is part of that bigger picture. But so too is accomplishment and challenging ourselves. I purposely wrote the thread starter in a way to make class management and skill acquisition the primary focus and context of the thread. In doing that I was hoping the members here began viewing their view as only one of an almost infinite number of viewpoints. I would offer the responses in this thread as a prime example of differing viewpoints about class management and skill acquisition and would state that most are pretty limited to a first person opinion. It ruffled a few feathers to write about the business end of this but to be honest the resort is a private business and ROI is what keeps the lifts turning. Those of us who make their living from skiing can tell you that is never too far out of our minds. Those who are hobbyist teachers (derive their primary income elsewhere) often write about teaching for the love of the sport but I have yet to meet one of those folks who doesn't cash their paychecks. I'm not calling them out as much as mentioning that even they need to accept the idea that teaching is a job not a pro bono activity. As such the school has every right to decide what they should and should not do on the clock. So that needs to be part of their perspective just as much as any other part of ski lessons.

None of this is why a student shows up at the ski school desk though. Finding out their reason for being there and identifying what they expect to accomplish while in the class is our primary concern. To be honest listing all the reasons I have seen would take five pages. In the end the instructor must get that person to share that information and act on it accordingly. It might involve setting reasonable goals and expectations for each student and in doing so this means designing five private lessons if you have five students. It also goes without saying that pacing is going to present as a challenge since no two skiers ski at exactly the same pace while learning new things. Again the instructor must acknowledge this and set a reasonable pace for the entire class and clearly express the need to not forget about the stragglers due to poor pacing (a huge safety concern). I often mention this by suggesting each student will find themselves being the straggler at some point and in need of that courtesy from the rest of the group.

Finally I want to address MGA's comments about skiers out on the hill after a lesson. What they do is entirely up to them and at best I hope what they learned in a class helps them make good choices about their ability to handle more of the mountain. If they make a wrong turn and over terrain themselves it would be hard to blame anyone but them for doing so. I get they might be in a class to gain the ability to ski a certain run but their safety after the lesson is up to them.
Edited by justanotherskipro - 10/18/16 at 10:31am
Quote:
Originally Posted by SkiMangoJazz

Tim, I completely agree with you about the music/skiing similarities.  It's something I've posted about many times over the years.

Skiing is self-expression.  As I wrote in my log a few years ago in frustration with the often piss-poor training and criticism that I was receiving.

"Skiing is making love with the mountain, and no one is going to tell me how to make love."

I agree to a point.

Skiing, like many other disciplines, can only become a worthy expression of self (ones that others will understand) only after a certain level of that literacy is obtained. Otherwise, one is just another babbling idiot geek tweaking their way down the hill with headphones on. Assuming any concept even remotely associated with what most think of as "style" without a minimum of fundamental skills never amounts to much more than entertaining chairlift viewing fodder. Of course the "mountain" is not going to complain about poor "turn making" and no one else should for that matter. However, try making love to a new woman without any real skills or experience and she will let you know ... with the music of the door closing behind her.

Rich I too agree to a point.

But as with most things in life it comes down to "what is my goal?"

Personally my goals include being able to ski challenging terrain comfortably and in control, and to that end having better technical skills is important.

However I also ski for fun, for enjoyment, for freedom, for excitement.  I can get that on easier terrain, terrain needing less skill.

If an untrained skier with little skill is having fun, they may not care about technique.  There is no right and wrong, there is only the person doing it's desire.  If they enjoy skidding and scraping their way down the steeper sections defensively - cool.  Have fun I say.  (And if the mountain doesn't like it there's always self-gratification. )

I hear where you are coming from. We agree for the most part just perhaps not exactly where crossing the line between a little casual dancing down an easy slope and having fun completely off the foundation of basic skills that becomes ingrained in a manner that has your family and friends pretending to not know you until meeting again in the lift line. I'm also not exactly sure how far crossing the line things are regarding bringing the one man bobsled into the discussion especially when you can't see their hands and a place where "seeing the whole picture" may not be what Jasp is looking for. I think ...

When it comes to skiing and music, it takes quite a journey to travel from claping the hands to playing the Devil's fiddle.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SkiMangoJazz

Tim, I completely agree with you about the music/skiing similarities.  It's something I've posted about many times over the years.

Skiing is self-expression.  As I wrote in my log a few years ago in frustration with the often piss-poor training and criticism that I was receiving.

"Skiing is making love with the mountain, and no one is going to tell me how to make love."

Except for you might want to listen to the mountain

Nothing worse than a mountain with a headache.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SkiMangoJazz

Rich I too agree to a point.

But as with most things in life it comes down to "what is my goal?"

Personally my goals include being able to ski challenging terrain comfortably and in control, and to that end having better technical skills is important.

However I also ski for fun, for enjoyment, for freedom, for excitement.  I can get that on easier terrain, terrain needing less skill.

If an untrained skier with little skill is having fun, they may not care about technique.  There is no right and wrong, there is only the person doing it's desire.  If they enjoy skidding and scraping their way down the steeper sections defensively - cool.  Have fun I say.  (And if the mountain doesn't like it there's always self-gratification. )

If you're having fun that's great!  But I contend that with better skills, there is  more freedom and potentially more fun.  I don't believe that struggling with terrain or snow conditions is as much fun as being proficient in the same conditions.   At my mountain we do a huge outreach seasonal program with many schools and multiple hundreds of students.  Sometimes these kids just want to go and the idea of a series  lessons, esp. if they are not fun and productive  isn't something that excites these  kids, especially the teenagers.   So I use exactly the  argument, that developing better skills and technique offers the promise of more freedom.  Right and wrong  according to whom...it's about having skills and technique that allows you to negotiate with ease the conditions you wish to ski.  If skiing easy conditions on easy slopes is your goal, then you don't need very strong and proficient technique.  But if your goal is to enjoy 2 feet of powder,  you may require a stronger skill set.  If what you're doing is working,  great!  But if you are struggling with conditions that you are interested in  skiing then  working to improve makes sense.   YM

In terms of cost/benefit I'd say YM is on the money. A little technique can go a long way. That's exactly why I started this thread in the first place .... or metaphysically delegated it out ... I can't remember exactly.

I also see skiing as self expression but more like dance in that it is performance art. Expressing ourselves through our movements requires a familiarity with the movements. So familiar that you can perform them in an automatic way. Flow is the term coined by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and the subject of another book by Susan Jackson. The concept of optimal experience and transcending the mechanical starts with positive experiences. Enjoyment is the key here but even at the lowest skier levels that experience requires some physical skills and experience. From the class management and skill acquisition perspective the idea of the whole picture means positive experiences are the key to success for us and our students. The more mindful instructor understands the small successes add up to more progress because the student moves from one level to the next armed with more confidence in their abilities. It's why I suggested what Don Dagle (a past training manager at Keystone) said about five competent runs prior to moving on to more challenging terrain. It's in that wisdom that those small successes will be found and flow is more likely. But it's a two sided sword because without some challenge a student will not focus to the point that flow is possible. That line between challenge and familiarity is hard to quantify as a hard line though. A fact that many here suggested I violated with the comments about "average." That being said the instructor must figure out where that line is and if there are multiple people in the lesson that line will exist at just as many points. At best they must figure out some middle ground that will satisfy all of the students. Assigning harder tasks to the stronger skiers and at the same time assigning easier tasks to the weaker skiers works well to equalize the straggler issues I mentioned earlier. But for that to work the terrain cannot be an issue for the weaker skiers. I know many find that controversial but I would mention the fact that I have watched multiple World Cup stars and national teams working on very, very easy terrain. It's where they work on accuracy at very slow speeds. Aspiring skiers should take notice of this practice. Simply stated trying new moves in the race course is limited to unintentional recoveries. They rehearse their purposeful moves until they own them and only then do they attempt them on race day. Most recreational skiers neither have that much time to practice, or the motivation to drill that much. But the idea of skiing more difficult terrain prior to owning the appropriate skill set is a prescription for failure and injury. Surviving a run verses styling it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rich666

In terms of cost/benefit I'd say YM is on the money. A little technique can go a long way. That's exactly why I started this thread in the first place .... or metaphysically delegated it out ... I can't remember exactly.

​Sure you did Rich.

Thank you for confirming that Jasp. Like I said .... my memory and, admittedly ... being too lazy to unintuitively scroll backwards. On another note, shouldn't I be getting a good poster badge for threads like these?

I need to get some credit in between now and the next time I catch Rusty's evil eye. :)

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