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Seeing and Observing in Teaching

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
Most ski instructors at one time or another have said, "Watch me. Then do as I do." during a lesson. We all understand visual learning and that almost everyone has a visual component to thier learning style.

As a hobby, I do magic. I understand misdirection and how most people do not see what is right in front of them. This happens even if you tell them what to look at. Magicians use that to advantage to wow and stun an individual or audience.

What is an advantage to a magician is a hinderance to a teacher. The problem is that most people see but do not observe. They don't see the little nuances that give away the big secrets.

Now for the questions and focus of this discussion.

How do you ensure that your students are watching what you want them to watch? How do you know that they actually "observed" what you wanted them to "see?"
post #2 of 10
I usually spend more time describing what something feels like to me rather than what I think it looks like. I try to find ways to have them experience the feeling as part of my introdu tory descriptions. Most nuance movements have a timing element that's almost impossible to isolate in a demo. If I attempt to demo, I sometimes tell the client to "watch for xyz movement to occur at abc point. Then I may make follow-up demos with my hands signaling the timing or pointing to a body part.
post #3 of 10
I'm typicically wary of doing a whole lot of "follow me" or "watch me". Having said that I realize there are a lot of visual learners out there.

I refer to it as being akin to antibiotics. Don't dispense it to all for the common cold.

I try to be imaginitive as well as judicious. I'll do it right and do it wrong. I'll tell folks I'm going to make eight turns doing it the "right way" for one half and the wrong way for the other half. I'll ask them to pick out whether it was the first four or the second four and to discuss what the saw.

I'll exagerate or draw out a movement in terms of a time continuom.

Carved uphill arcs are a prime example. For the student who is having difficulty getting a ski on edge I'll suggest they tip their inside ski until the boot buckles touch the snow. I'll go on to say I don't care how silly a positon WE get in a proceed to assume that position during the course of a traverse.
post #4 of 10
T-Square, the best example I've seen of what you speak was an interactive zoo with visiting children.

Tarantula feeding time. The keeper covers a tarantula with his hand and pulls out a cricket.

He's holding his hand cupped over the tarantula and asks 'Wanna see that again?'
Children are 'Huh?' 'Wanna see that again?' He throws away the cricket and pulls out another. 'Wanna see that again?'

By the fifth 'Wanna see that' the children are mad at him because they think he's being patronising. He asks again 'Wanna see that?', uncups his hand and that cricket is GONE. Not one of the kids saw a thing.

Moral to story: Key them up as you will , it won't help perception.
post #5 of 10
I am a very good visual learner. If i see someone do something (especially on skis) I can usually in a matter of a few runs duplicate what they are doing (accept 720's and 1080's). I have learned much of my skiing skills from this. Recently though, I have not had the luxury of being able to watch someone and learn from what they are doing. Why? Well, it has become difficult to find someone capable of demonstrating the things that I need to learn - and when you find that person getting them in the right time and place to do so is also difficult. Practices are often a busy time for coaches, so unless I have time before or after to spend with the coach I am in trouble. When given a task to watch, it is always best to tell the student what to watch for, so that they know what it is they are supposed to mimic... or at least come to realize.

So, recently i have had to rely on instruction where the coach says - okay now do this - then that... and so on. The biggest leap i have made recently in my skiing came with this style of coaching this year - by exaggerating my pole plants during slalom practice. It brought me much farther foreward and over the front of my skis so that i was not constantly drifting back during my turn transitions. It took awhile, but after i learned that, I can keep up with pretty much all but one of my team mates in the slalom course.

So, all of that being said... I think that visual learning is great from those who it works for. There are some people out there who do not have the ability to mimic what they see - or commit to memory in their own muscles the movement that they see other people make. Observing may not work for all students, and I feel the ability to demonstrate is only part of what makes a great coach/instructor as i ski better than almost all of the coaches i have had my entire life (there are about 4 that can school me any day of the week though). A true great instructor can demonstrate, but better than that, convey to the student, in a way that the student understands, what must change with their skiing. Every skier is not a page out of a book, so i consider the learning process very dynamic in terms of what works for one, may not work for another.


post #6 of 10

Exaggerated Movement

Originally Posted by HeluvaSkier
- by exaggerating my pole plants during slalom practice.
Originally Posted by Rusty Guy
I'll exagerate or draw out a movement in terms of a time continuom.

Exaggerated movement is one of the most effective methods I used for beginners. Many times if the student tries to mimic the exaggerated movement, they come out just about where they should be. If I teach this year, I've decided I'm going back to it.
post #7 of 10
Thread Starter 
OK, exaggerated movement is one way to get someone to see what you want them to see. Now, what are other ways to accomplish that?

I've developed my eye to look for key things. How do we do that with our students.
post #8 of 10
I'm almost the opposite of Heluvaskier.... visual learning is pretty much a non-entity for me.... If the instructor wants to show me something it is usually to make a point - not to "teach me the move" ..... So he will tend to tell me to "watch his hips" etc... ie I have a very directed focus & it is usually accompanied, either before or after, by a VERY explicit commentary on what is happening & why/how/when.

The only thing that REALLY was good was using my instructor to synch pole plants & turns with. That is less "watch & copy" as using the instructor as a human metronome for me
One other instructor used to ski behind or alongside me counting beats - I had a pre-prepared programme that told me where I should be up to at certain counts.

I always found sensation much more useful than visual input. So the guy that REALLY helped me with ankle flexing skied a couple of turns & then walked back up & then he & I walked them & he pushed on my arm the amount of pressure he wanted from shin & boot interaction at each part of the turns.... Then we walked back up & skied them trying to keep that pressure for that turn part... THIS showed me how to START to use my ankles... (also much off-season training)

However if you want to go back to visuals - I ALWAYS found the instructors tracks WAY more helpful to watch than the damn instructor! If I looked at the "path" I could see the changes in edge engagement changing through the turn & the amount of pressure on the ski & how "clean" the edge was (ie how much steering vs pure carve) ... very handy for me... (sudden changes usually indicate that rock he just found was THERE)
post #9 of 10
Right turn/wrong turn activities like Rusty said. Identify a maneuver or movements so that your students know what they are trying to do. Demo the right way, the wrong way and then have them do both. Move through the visual into their performance of both right and wrong. Providing feedback and encouragement during all of this helps them but be careful not to overtalk, it confused some people. In most cases I wait until after they stop. The people that benefit from constant, immediate feedback (me) will usually tell you that they are more a verbal learner.
post #10 of 10
I find following behind an instructor (or just any good skier) is very helpful for my skiing.

However when they tell me to watch what they're doing it doesn't usually help me. When I study slow motion video, or stop action photos I can see and learn about some particular motion, but in most cases seeing it another skier doesn't work, it's just too subtle.
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