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Many ways to skin a cat...

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 
This thread was born this morning, in my head, after having dredged through the monstrous 10-page thread on ski instruction and styles, which quickly deteriorated into a rant-fest on "how to turn", and then receiving a PM about something I posted in said thread.

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Side Note:

IMHO, the discussions in this particular forum degrade because we get TOO focused on discussing the science of skiing. Please, let's stay off the technical ski talk in this one thread. Thanks!
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Focus: Learning and Instructional Styles

In this thread I want to stay on topic and talk about how people learn and how people teach. (I know it's been done a bit before... those waters have always been muddied with the infusion of "ski talk".)

How do Adults learn?

When we encounter information our brain tries to relate it to something else we already know. These "mental building blocks" facilitate our comfort levels. Even when we are learning something totally new - our brains seek to compare this new information with something else we know.

Thus, it's quite easy to understand why some folks get stuck in one school of thought (no pun intended!) as their brains furiously work to connect-the-dots between new concepts and older information stored.

Because of this, Adults are frequently seen switching learning styles as their brains process information.

I assert:
- There is no ONE right way to learn, nor ONE right way to teach
- Furthermore, often "breakthroughs" (in anything) occur when we are taken out of our comfort zone a bit or when we do something totally unfamiliar


Therefore, I hypothesize:
Adults who switch instructional styles (eg spend time with different coaches), thus constantly challenging their brain with new ideas, will master new concepts more efficiently and with deeper understanding, thus accomplishing truer versatility.

What do you think or how do you feel about this hypothesis?

Thanks all,
kiersten
post #2 of 26
Thread Starter 

in an effort to be complete...

I also find these questions to be particularly thought-provoking! Again - this is not about JUST skiing!!! Please don't let that be your sole focus when thinking about this.
  1. When it comes to learning, do I know my own style?
  2. When it comes to learning, do I always learn the same way?
  3. When it comes to instruction, do I expect an instructor to deliver information in my preferred style?
  4. If information is not delivered in my preferred style, do I explain my needs to the instructor?
  5. With regard to information, do I care more about receiving information in my preferred style than the actual content?
In addition to your "yes" or "no" replies, I think it would be interesting to also know WHY!

thanks again,
kiersten
post #3 of 26
Science backs up your hypothesis, but I'm too exhausted to look for links. I do, however, agree 100%.

As a fellow gym rat, you probably see people who do the same workout day after day, even though their bodies are not changing.

"If you keep on doing what you've always done, you'll keep on getting what you always got.'

"Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."
post #4 of 26

Sponges

Skiing has it skills, there always there. The interpretation of those skills is what is fasinating, the teaching. Reaching people they best way you can so they can reach the goal they want.

Those who have taught children know they are little sponges they take in everything, they are building there reference points and benchmark. As adults those references and benchmark are cast in granite at times. When learning, we need to become that child take everything in with a open mind. Try something new, don't jump so quickly to those granite benchmarks. Be a sponge not a granite block.
post #5 of 26
I think the best Teachers, Instructors, are those that teach to ALL learning styles!
post #6 of 26
One of the reasons I became an Adaptive Ski Instructor.
post #7 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by klkaye

How do Adults learn?

When we encounter information our brain tries to relate it to something else we already know. These "mental building blocks" facilitate our comfort levels. Even when we are learning something totally new - our brains seek to compare this new information with something else we know.

Thus, it's quite easy to understand why some folks get stuck in one school of thought (no pun intended!) as their brains furiously work to connect-the-dots between new concepts and older information stored.

Because of this, Adults are frequently seen switching learning styles as their brains process information.

I assert:
- There is no ONE right way to learn, nor ONE right way to teach
- Furthermore, often "breakthroughs" (in anything) occur when we are taken out of our comfort zone a bit or when we do something totally unfamiliar


Therefore, I hypothesize:
Adults who switch instructional styles (eg spend time with different coaches), thus constantly challenging their brain with new ideas, will master new concepts more efficiently and with deeper understanding, thus accomplishing truer versatility.

What do you think or how do you feel about this hypothesis?

Thanks all,
kiersten
Very interesting concepts, and I can see your point. Fitting a new piece (concept) into the puzzle (your built up experience) often means you've got to examine that piece from all sides before you know where it fits. Totally agree.

But what does that say about how you or I for that matter need to be taught? Another thread raised the notionsof "thinkers", "doers", "watchers", and "feelers" all requiring different input to instill learning. My summary of your point sounds like I am describing the "thinkers" approach to learning.

I would very much dislike being taught by "feeling". That part of my experience is a lot shallower, so the pieces may not fit in the right place -- I'd be uncertain. Doing is great too , and watching is best when people show me what I look like, not appreciated when folks say "Here, Do this!".

They all all very different approaches to learning, and each one is best served by an instructor that is aware of such things. If what you mean by switching learning styles is switching between these 4 things, then I would expect that the teaching styles would switch as well.

I don't think I'd like that very much. I will agree that "mixing up" the stimulus is a good thing -- eg. learning bump skiing makes you a much better groomer skier, but not mixing up the teaching styles.

IMO, the "breakthrough" or "aha" happens when the piece finally goes in. For me, it will go in easier if a thinker/doer approach is used as opposed to watcher/feeler.

That's my 2 cents
post #8 of 26
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by BigE
They all all very different approaches to learning, and each one is best served by an instructor that is aware of such things. If what you mean by switching learning styles is switching between these 4 things, then I would expect that the teaching styles would switch as well.


I don't think I'd like that very much. I will agree that "mixing up" the stimulus is a good thing -- eg. learning bump skiing makes you a much better groomer skier, but not mixing up the teaching styles.


Thanks for all of your input here. I want to build on what you wrote.

Fundamentally, adult learning requires completion of 2 phases:
1. Acquire information (getting the information can be done through "thinking" or "doing")
The thinkers like to talk and ask questions, to identify all the details - they form mental images, which aids understanding. The doers need to involve their senses and experience the information as a means to understanding it.

2. Processing information (processing is done by "doing" and it can either be done in a very orderly/sequential or hap-hazard/random manner)
The orderly types out there will learn through repetition and the random types will find understanding through developing order for themselves.

#1 - Switching learning styles
We can identify a person's learning style by the behavioral cues exhibited. When a learner's comfort level is already quite high they might just jump in and do something, not wanting to spend alot of time discussing the information. What if the same learner was presented with a totally foreign concept. It's likely that they would change and demonstrate different learning behaviors - perhaps wanting to discuss the idea and ask a lot of questions, clarifying the information, before trying it.

This is a radical change in learning style behaviors!

#2 - Switching teaching styles
So, learners evolve because learning is totally situational. Great instructors understand the styles, read a learner's behavioral cues and change their instructional techniques and tactics.

So... how do we recognize an expert? Look to their range of adaptability!

kiersten
post #9 of 26

yep - good stuff

***Learning styles:***

I'm the nerd type that wants the why explained and how to do it.

My son is the oppisite. Just show him and he'll do it. He'll "clog" himself up if you give him the mental detail.

***Changing Coaches for better input and enhancing the student experience***

In my own experience in skiing, different coaches have different emphasis and "catch" different things that help.

In one of the 2 types of camps I've been to they have a policy of switching coaches mid way through just to enhance what you're talking about.

The other camp I've been to twice keeps the same coaches all week which I think weakens the experience greatly.

There are a gazillion little "cues" or "hints" coaches have developed over time that help a particullar student with a particullar need. The more coaches the better.
post #10 of 26
Thread Starter 
John,

I already knew your learning style from your posts in other threads. I will also guess that you're an engineer or scientist by profession.

kiersten
post #11 of 26
I want to take a slightly different tack and suggest that the best learners are those who are able to explore a variety of learning styles. To this end it might be advantageous for the teacher to challenge the student in this way.

Incidently, as I was waiting what seemed like forever, to see my doctor today I FINALLY found something worth reading only to have to put it down after a short glimpse at the article so I can only offer an inadequate synopsis but the gist seemed to be that some wunderkind computer designer has proposed a theory of how the brain works that seems to be based upon the development of "expectations" based upon prior learning. I think the thread probably lead toward a "compare and contrast" examination of new material relative to prior experience. In this light something new, different and inconsistent might get more attention and stimulate learning in contrast to the usual "building blocks" approach although I agree that presenting this new information in the context of some kind of relationship to prior experience is important. On the other hand, I didn't get to finish the article! I'll have to find some excuse to get back to the doctors office.

I want to suggest that real learning is a challenging and continually upsetting experience instead of the seamless and effortless experience we seek to make it.
post #12 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by klkaye
[color=black]How do Adults learn?

When we encounter information our brain tries to relate it to something else we already know. These "mental building blocks" facilitate our comfort levels. Even when we are learning something totally new - our brains seek to compare this new information with something else we know.

Thus, it's quite easy to understand why some folks get stuck in one school of thought (no pun intended!) as their brains furiously work to connect-the-dots between new concepts and older information stored.

Because of this, Adults are frequently seen switching learning styles as their brains process information.

I assert:
- There is no ONE right way to learn, nor ONE right way to teach
- Furthermore, often "breakthroughs" (in anything) occur when we are taken out of our comfort zone a bit or when we do something totally unfamiliar


Therefore, I hypothesize:
Adults who switch instructional styles (eg spend time with different coaches), thus constantly challenging their brain with new ideas, will master new concepts more efficiently and with deeper understanding, thus accomplishing truer versatility.

What do you think or how do you feel about this hypothesis?

Thanks all,
kiersten
When we learn we build brain connections....

Kids brains are still growing (at least small kids) quickly as they develop connections they need for everyday living..... This makes them already geared up for learning.

Adult brains still build connections - but are more "hard wired".
Hence the attempts to fit new information into old patterns I would think.... if it is hard to build new connections you would want to make sure the effort is worthwhile.

Constant challenge to learn new things (not new versions of old type info - like a different value for something, but truely NEW learning in otherwise unknown areas) is somewhat protective against development of senility & dementia.

The guys at the AIS say I should be very safe - far too much new learning happening in this poor brain - it works flat out building new connections to meet the challenges it gets.
post #13 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by klkaye
I also find these questions to be particularly thought-provoking! Again - this is not about JUST skiing!!! Please don't let that be your sole focus when thinking about this.
  1. When it comes to learning, do I know my own style?
    Yep
  2. When it comes to learning, do I always learn the same way?
    Nope
  3. When it comes to instruction, do I expect an instructor to deliver information in my preferred style?
    Yep
  4. If information is not delivered in my preferred style, do I explain my needs to the instructor?
    Yep - but italians called Nicola from Bormio will be noxious when you do this
  5. With regard to information, do I care more about receiving information in my preferred style than the actual content?
    Nope
In addition to your "yes" or "no" replies, I think it would be interesting to also know WHY!

thanks again,
kiersten
Why what?
post #14 of 26
Thread Starter 
Disski -

just WHY you feel the way you do - why you answer the way you do... that's all

thanks
post #15 of 26
My take on this is that everyone (okay, most people w/o disabilities), has the ability to learn using all of the learning styles. BigE says that he doesn't appreciate it when people try to have him learn using other methods than what he thinks is his best way. However, as adults, we have almost too much life experience. If I ask someone to visualize something, I have no idea what's actually going on in their head. Or if I ask them to watch and do, they may think they are doing what they are supposed to be doing. Most people wouldn't put themselves in the "feeler" category, but If I'm tring to get them to edge a ski a certain way or balance a certain way, they may think they are doing it right, until I actually grab them and physically move them into the proper position. Then, they say "Oh, I get it!". So no matter what learning style people may appear to be, as an ski instructor, you have to be able to teach to all of the styles all the time. If they don't get it the first time or two, yet all they want you to do is expain it until it makes sense to them (still no way to tell if making sense is actually going to result in a correct movement), you may need to take that cognitive learner and physically move them, have them watch or ask them to try while providing specific, immediate feedback. We have to be adaptable if we want to be successful.

On the subject of teaching styles, we'd need to get specific to skiing, because that's what we've been taught. Plus, if we got into math instruction, I don't think the feelers (kinestetic learners) would get do very well. In skiing (or at least in the world of teaching physical activities in a group dynamic), we talk about task, command, guided discovery, etc., using teaching tactics such as reciprocal and group activities, while moving, versus yacking away when it's 10 degrees and there's powder to be cut up.
post #16 of 26
Thread Starter 
John H

with regard to teaching styles and ski instruction. I whole-heartedly agree that the more time we spending skiing (DOING) the better - that said... abstract (thinker) learning personalities need time to talk, ask question and imagine things. use of analogies are especially meaningful for this group.

yacking is the cold is bad, I agree, which is why I do my talking on the chair. :-)

kiersten
post #17 of 26
With all of the dialog on this technique and that technique, I would like to suggest that everything that has been discussed is correct. All of the movements described are just one thing; tools for getting down the hill. As long as there is a dowhill flow of movement, it is correct. Even transferring weight to the little toe edge of the new inside ski is a positive movement because it contributes to the overall movement. And it is fun riding that edge.

Rather than getting into these wars of PSIA vs PMTS, let's try to discuss some movements that are fun. If we were to teach our students FUN movements, we would see big smiles at the end of the lesson. If folks have fun learning, I would wager that they will be back for more. And we teachers will have more fun designing fun lessons.

Rick H
post #18 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by klkaye
Disski -

just WHY you feel the way you do - why you answer the way you do... that's all

thanks
OK here goes

Originally Posted by klkaye

I also find these questions to be particularly thought-provoking! Again - this is not about JUST skiing!!! Please don't let that be your sole focus when thinking about this.
When it comes to learning, do I know my own style?
Yep -
1)because for intellectual learning I once studied with a specialist in education (we were both doing a secong degree) She was interested in my learning patterns because they were a little unusual...
2) because I have had such POOR success in learning physical skills that when I find a way that is USEFUL I drive the poor teacher nuts analysing why it works (or other stuff doesn't)
When it comes to learning, do I always learn the same way?
Nope
1)Intellectual stuff I learn VERY quickly & best by the auditory pathway. It seems I naturally "arrange" data as it arrives by this route - allowing for quicker understanding of where it fits & fast recall.
2) PHYSICAL STUFF - the bit you want. I learn movement patterns by FIRST learning the basic movement required & embedding this into a rewired brain pattern. After that is done I then can "play" with adjusting movements on the fly...
When it comes to instruction, do I expect an instructor to deliver information in my preferred style?
Yep
1) because I'm paying - it is MY lesson ..... so why NOT?
If information is not delivered in my preferred style, do I explain my needs to the instructor?
Yep - but italians called Nicola from Bormio will be noxious when you do this
1)Because he is a guy who can ski OK but has sweet FA idea HOW & dislikes having his minimal intellect displayed!
With regard to information, do I care more about receiving information in my preferred style than the actual content?
Nope
1)I want GOOD teaching - decent info is a MUST! If they are a good teacher they should be able to teach to ALL styles.
In addition to your "yes" or "no" replies, I think it would be interesting to also know WHY!

thanks again,
kiersten
post #19 of 26
Kiersten,

Thanks for the great question. This is the kind of discussion that can help instructors grow to become better.

Quote:
Adults who switch instructional styles (eg spend time with different coaches), thus constantly challenging their brain with new ideas, will master new concepts more efficiently and with deeper understanding, thus accomplishing truer versatility.

What do you think or how do you feel about this hypothesis?
The problem with instructional styles/learning styles is that there are so many different models of the human psyche. No one (of the existing) model(s) could possibly reflect all of what is going on in a single persons head. The problem with the hypothesis is that there are many other variables to consider. An adult taking lessons only from Bob Barnes will master new concepts more efficiently and with deeper understanding than one taking lessons from a variety of rookie instructors. There are times, places, personalities, etc. when getting a variety of coaching will be better and times, places, personalities, etc. when it won't. Now, getting to the details of when variety is better will be a useful exercise.
post #20 of 26
Thread Starter 
ok Rusty, I do agree that there are as many faces of learning as there are people! Thats said, we can break it all down into some categories that most people will fall into (big picture-wise).

You then state: Now, getting to the details of when variety is better will be a useful exercise.

I agree that this is thought-provoking question and I challenge you to answer it.

IMHO I think there is a wider spectrum of answers to "when is variety better" then there is to "what's your learning style" - I think the responses to "when" will be highly individualized and situation specific.

kiersten
post #21 of 26
Hope you folks don't mind me jumping in here, but I had a few comments and find this interesting.

First, TheRusty, I don't think it is fair to compare BB with Novices in relation to transfer of understanding and new learning. I would think that Kilkaye's question would be better served by asking, would someone learn more from BB, Weems and Nolo, rather than just BB? To me the answer is obvious.

On the subject of learning styles ect., if I accept that learning is making connections from the know into the unknown then it would seems gaining access to the "KNOWNS" (the total of our previous experiences) we have stored away for our comparisons would require that we will get easier access to more of these "knowns" by utilizing more styles of communication and learning. Maybe we should call them paths of access. Because we work from a sum total of our previous expereinces and if these experiences are grouped together in infinite combinations then it would seem to me that we are almost obligated to utilize every learning style with every individual, or multiple paths of acccess. A persons learning preference or paths to the "knowns" may change as the knowns are looked at from a different perspective ect. Hope this made some sense. Later, RicB
post #22 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by RicB
Maybe we should call them paths of access. Because we work from a sum total of our previous expereinces and if these experiences are grouped together in infinite combinations then it would seem to me that we are almost obligated to utilize every learning style with every individual, or multiple paths of acccess. A persons learning preference or paths to the "knowns" may change as the knowns are looked at from a different perspective ect. Hope this made some sense. Later, RicB

Yes Ric

I am very definitely heavily geared towards thinking/feeling when I learn physical movement patterns.
I pretty much am so in need of understanding what I am trying to achieve I almost freeze until I feel I "get it" intellectually.
I am then very obsessive about how the movement "feels"....

This year we discovered, that despite my almost complete inability to "learn by copy" as far as learning a movement goes, I actually copy "style" of the person I ski with. That is I seem to adopt (within the range of my ability & knowledge) the skiing style of the person I am with. So in fact the TOTAL visual picture is what I am copying - not the finer points of movement.

I also discovered that although I like feedback I have a great DISLIKE of being "waffled at". I prefer to have EXPLANATION, MOVEMENT, DO, FEEDBACK, and I dislike being held too long after the explanation - I WANT to see what it FEELS like damn it! (Looks like Italians from Bormio are useful for learning something from) This is interesting as I am not strongly a DOER - but I really feel the need to FEEL how this new stuff affects the FEEL of my skis.

I am sure BOTH of these are RECENT changes/additions to my learning styles/needs.... as I develop my basic skill sets I have more to work with to allow me to utilise learning styles I would not prefer for lower level learning. I also NEED to learn DIFFERENT stuff - so the need for variety in teaching becomes strong....
post #23 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by oisin
I want to suggest that real learning is a challenging and continually upsetting experience instead of the seamless and effortless experience we seek to make it.
Amen to that! I am currently taking a college chemistry class (last exposure to any related material was 20+years ago!) and it is blowing me away.

The prof keeps saying stuff like, "look, it's not that hard" and from his point of view of course, that's absolutely true. From my point of view however, I am desperately trying to build those connections through association with what I already know. And that particular "chemical reaction" uses a whole heck of a lot of energy! I'm getting there, but it often feels like I'm moving mountains to do it.

One tactic I am exploring is to try to quiet my mind, put some of the questions on hold, and just emulate the more passive(?), spongelike learning style of the child who doesn't have much prior knowledge. This is huge for me. When I have a question arise, I feel very uncomfortable if I can't get an immediate resolution, or at minimum, put it on the table for discussion.

I am beginning to realize of late that I never really learned to develop faith in the process. If you can tolerate a bit of uncertainty (take the "nag"* out of "nagging questions", the rewards can be great! If you have trouble with uncertainty, learning something new is more difficult and it's more likely you'll get stuck or give up.

Oisin used the word "upsetting" above and that reminds me of the emotional component that goes with being challenged. As you most certainly have noticed on this very forum, some folks react with fear and defensiveness when challenged. So not only do we need to be aware of different learning styles and "work" them with versatility, we also need to be aware of the role that emotions play in the learning (or lack thereof!) process.

Which brings up a question I've been meaning to ask: Was "Big Cheese" for real or was that just some kind of performance art thing designed to draw our attention to this very subject of the interplay between emotionality and thinking/learning?!

Lastly, Kiersten, I love the clarity of your posts. A great role model for me on how to stay focused. Now I better go focus on my studies.
__________________________________________________ _______
Since I'm in school, I'm going to exercise a geek prerogative and actually include a footnote here:

*For more on the "nag", see Mermer's book, In The Yikes Zone or check out this link. http://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/0525...e&keywords=nag
post #24 of 26
I also find I benefit from different clinicians perspectives and styles. So It would seem that I could benefit more from spending time with all three I mentioned as opposed to just one. Sometimes my Aha moments need a different path to reach me.

Even though I have students that are very loyal customers, I think it is healthy for them to get different perspectives from other teachers, and healthy for me to let go, so to speak. Later, RicB.
post #25 of 26
Really, I'm trying to study my chemistry, really, really, I am, but my cat is insisting that I post this photo instead, in which she is giving you an evil look.

http://www.users.muohio.edu/sommerl/laptop.jpeg

She has become very emotional about the your choice of title for this thread. And if I don't do what she wants she's been known to demonstrate some pretty aggressive "thinking outside of the (litter) box" as revenge.

O, no, gotta go, now she's on the phone with PETA.
post #26 of 26
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by RicB
Maybe we should call them paths of access. Because we work from a sum total of our previous expereinces and if these experiences are grouped together in infinite combinations then it would seem to me that we are almost obligated to utilize every learning style with every individual, or multiple paths of acccess.
RicB...

I think you nailed it. Another point occured to me...

- unconsciously competent
- consciously competent
- consciously incompetent
- unconsciously incompetent

When someone reaches true "expertise" they tend to reside in the land of unconsciously competent. That said, those who keep themselves in the realm of consciously competent tend to be the best instructors.

In order to teach, and teach well, it's critical to be able to break every concept into individual tasks and then be able to explain how to execute the task in a deliberate step-by-step manner.

So - delivering information is both the what and the how!

kiersten
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