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Today's Quote for Thought - Page 2

post #31 of 44

Doubts?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ssh
I wonder if communicating some of our doubts to students would help at times. I can see both sides of that, I think, but can students handle a teacher saying something like, "I think we can try this, because I think that you can handle it. What do you think?"
Steve,

I don't see that as communicating a doubt. I see that as involving the client in an informed opinion and allowing development.

IMHO, as teachers, we seek to do with our students what we do with our skis: guide and allow.

Since novices often expect their instructor to tell them every move, it important to introduce discovery and independance very early. This also gives more opportunity for them to feed back to you, and makes it clear that communication is not the one-way street they might have expected.

The professional teacher does his best work while learning.


Go play!
post #32 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by T-Square
I really agree with Steve on this. Most of our students don't know how they are performing. They are happy sliding down the hill. They don't know anything else.

Its the competency learning cycle thing:

Unconscious Competent.....|..Conscious Competent
.....................................|............ .....................
Unconscious Incompetent...|..Conscious Incompetent

(For those who need/want more info, http://www.businessballs.com/conscio...rningmodel.htm )

Many of our students come to us in the unconscious incompetent quadrant. (Some come knowing they want improvement. They are already conscious incompetents.) They need a wake up call to move into the concious incompetent quadrant. When we teach we give them that call. Sometime subtlely sometimes not so subtle. However, if we teach them right, we will spark something in our student that makes them go, "Hmm, that feels better." or "Hmm, that works." Sometimes we get the huge breakthrough and those "WOW" momements. (I live for those. )

A good teacher provides the tools for a student to move from conscious incompetent to conscious competent. It is up to the student to make it their own. (Unconscious Competent.)

I love this model. It helps us understand how the teaching/learning cycle works.
I am reminded of one of the "demotivational" posters on despair.com:

Ineptitude.
If you can't learn to do something well, learn to enjoy doing it poorly.

The picture shows a skier in mid-air. Upside down. Not intentionally.

So I have to ask the question: If they are in the unconscious incompetent quadrant, and having fun (i.e., "they are happy sliding down the hill"), why do they come to us at all? And, indeed, why should they? What is the motivation? (This is an obvious GCT question.)

I would suggest that, even though they don't know how they are performing, they aren't entirely happy with that performance. If they were happy with it, they wouldn't spend time and money talking to ski nerds like us!

I agree with Piaget: People come to us when they have a problem that they want to solve.

We need to recognize (as professionals doing our best work) that the problem may have nothing to do with how they ski. It may, instead, have to do with how they are dealing with someone else who wants them to ski, or ski "better" in some sense. It may have to do with a parent who makes them go to ski school. It may have to do with fear or anxiety.

To interpret Piaget: People who are happily sliding down the parts of the hill that they want to slide down very rarely show up for ski school class.

They show up when they are nervous about sliding at all. They show up when someone wants to take them somewhere that makes them nervous. They show up when they want to do something better or when they themselves want to go somewhere that makes them nervous. They show up when they've seen something that they want to emulate. They show up when something seems easier for others and they want it to be easier for them. There are many, many reasons why people take ski classes. But there does have to be a reason. Sometimes they're not sure of the reason, but there always is one.

If they're inept(unconscious incompetent), but happy, let 'em enjoy, as long as they're not dangerous.


Go play!
post #33 of 44
To continue on Piaget, motivation, guided discovery, "best professional work", etc.:

One of my most pleasant experiences (oh, I do love to go on about the successes ) involved a group from Australia who didn't really want a lesson at all. They had been at the resort for several days, and their package included lessons, so they had gotten several hours of teaching daily. This was their last day.

They wanted some new terrain, and maybe a few tips. It was a powder day, so they wanted some terrain that wasn't all skied out, but they were intermediate skiers, so the choices had to be easily accessible and not too steep. As you might expect, finding places that meet these requirements at a major ski area on a powder day could be difficult. In addition, their tour guide from New York city was along, and she was easily the weakest skier of the bunch (why do tour companies do this??).

What was important here was not skill development. What was important was to put a nice dollop of whipped cream on their vacation! I wanted 'em to go home happy! And if they were able to do something they'd never done before, they'd be happier.

Well, it worked out, or I wouldn't be giving you all this blather. In the process, I had to ask almost exactly the question Steve brought up that got me started today: "I think we can try this, because I think that you can handle it. What do you think?"

I had to modify it, though. I had to tell the tour leader that her group could handle it, but that she might struggle. We had a short group conference, they decided to go for it, I stayed with the tour leader on the way down, and they all arrived at the lodge tired but happy. Yes, she flailed on the way down - but her clients did something they wouldn't have done otherwise, and were happier for it.


Go play!
post #34 of 44
So, do I try to help someone with what is obviously (to me) their most pressing issue or do I simply focus on what they think they want?
post #35 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by ssh
I wonder if communicating some of our doubts to students would help at times. I can see both sides of that, I think, but can students handle a teacher saying something like, "I think we can try this, because I think that you can handle it. What do you think?"
I've found that this is an iffy proposition. Sometimes, it's exactly what needs to be said and works out perfectly no matter whether the guest answers yes or no. Sometimes, this approach "talks" a student into doing something they don't want to do or gives them an excuse to not do something they should be doing to get better. If I can smell any of that, I'll reask the question with different phrasing to give them an opportunity to change their mind. Finally, there are times when I will simply present the options without the "I think" to make it more of a left or right question versus a harder or easier question in an attempt to eliminate "what I recommend" from the answer. Being able to read your students and subtly choose the most effective approach is a mark of a highly skilled instructor. I regularly screw this up once or twice a year, but I keep trying for a 100% hit rate.
post #36 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by ssh
So, do I try to help someone with what is obviously (to me) their most pressing issue or do I simply focus on what they think they want?
It's not quite that simple. Guide and allow.

My opinion, while being backed by some training and education, is not always the correct one. Still, it's probably correct more often than the guest's opinion (assuming we differ).

Even if my opinion is technically correct, it may be a non-starter for a particular student.

Can I show them how what I think is their most pressing issue relates to what they think they want? There's usually a relationship - often a close one. What problem do they think they have? What causes it? What do they think they are doing? What are they actually doing? What can I learn about the guest's motivation and understanding by listening to what they think they want? Is the movement issue I see caused by another movement issue - or a motivation or understanding issue?

The guest, by hiring me or taking a class lesson, has implicitly given me permission to offer an opinion and guidance. I have given them permission (and I will tell them this explicitly) to tell me if that guidance helps or not.

That permission (or contract, if you will) allows learning to take place - on both sides. It is necessary.


Go play!
post #37 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by ssh
...I think about the long-term (as far as I can tell, being a newby) idea that falling in uniform earns a round for all observers.
Hmmm...I've seen Bob Barnes fall. Both of them. (Yes, there are two: Our friend here at Epic and the SSD at Winter Park.) Two separate and unrelated occasions. They were both in some kind of uniform at the time.

Taste the high country! (This is accompanied by an image of a head plant. )


Go play!
post #38 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by ssh
So, do I try to help someone with what is obviously (to me) their most pressing issue or do I simply focus on what they think they want?
Why not do both at the same time? Find out what your student's goal is. Then wrap what you see as the most pressing issue around that goal.

Example: I've had a client say they wanted to ski without stopping 4 times because they were tired. She wanted to be able to keep up with her family and not "hold them back." This woman was a wedge skiier sitting in the backseat. I got her to play with moving back and forth a bit exagerating the fore and aft so she could feel how not being stacked made her muscles work harder. Then we worked a parallel routine while standing stacked. (Edging on the uphill little toe, uphill christis, then releases to the fall line while standing stacked) In no time she was making open stance parallel turns. And she found she could ski the run without needed to stop to rest tired muscles.

By wrapping her goal with what I could see she needed I got a very happy client out of it.

This was a group lesson and I did the essentially same thing with everyone while relating the results with their individual goals. It can be a daunting task but I think its worth it because your clients are involved with achieving their own goals. (This is something I picked up from Diana Rogers when she taugh a class I was taking. Watching the technique really got me thinking about it and how she kept the various clients involved.)
post #39 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by ssh
...I think about the long-term (as far as I can tell, being a newby) idea that falling in uniform earns a round for all observers.
Now back to another related topic. What is failure? Falling during a class, I don't rate that as a failure. Its just you showing what happens when you push the envelope.

What is failure in the context of a ski lesson. To me it would be the client walking away without a positive experience of some kind.

I had a 75 year old blind vet out on the bunny slope one time. He was out there for the fun of being out in the snow. We slid a bit. He talked and shot the sh*t. We slid a bit more. He talked a lot more. Hey, when we got done, he was as happy as a clam. Did he learn anything, hell no. Did he have fun, hell yes. Was it a sucessful lesson. Sure!!! The next year he came back and wanted me to take him out again.

So, what's your definition of failure?
post #40 of 44
My students only continue to exist because I let them live.

(I've always wanted to say that once. What better place than here among friends! )
post #41 of 44
Man, that turned out to be a conversation stopper. (I was just kidding!)
post #42 of 44
No it's true!
post #43 of 44

Professional

Going back to Cooke's quote (paraphrase) a "professional does a good job and maybe even his best work when he doesn't feel up to the task at hand" [my rendition]. This is a rather simplistic and unexplained thought.

A person becomes a professional through Training, Education and Experience. This occurs over time and is a combination of all 3 ingrediants. It would be inaccurate to say a MacDonalds employee is a professional because he/she puts out good french fries even though he/she would really rather be working some where else. Or, a medical surgeon didn't botch the tonsilectomy even though he'd rather be playing golf. Neither one of these examples makes a person a professional.

Quite a few of the above posters are or were professional ski instructors. Although I may not agree with some of the thoughts, language and idioms expressed it appears that some of them are professionals. I also think it is safe to say they strive to do a good job and their degree of trying does hinge at times on how they feel, weather, temperature, health etc. Does at times their committment vary - well of course it does they are Human.

Maybe in the hall of academic history Cooke's quote would be accepted, howeverr in the frigid cold of New England or the 9,000 ft wind level at Mammoth ski instructors work at different levels. Is a professional PGA golfer better at 78 degees, sunshine, no winds or at 42 degrees with rain and 40 mph winds. The only constant in life is change.

Ski instruction as talked about, to me reaches almost esoteric levels.
As an instructor I always attempt to bring the ski lesson to a human level and not (conscious-unconscious states or categories) mechanical manipulation. If and I can connect with person or persons THEN we have a chance for a good/rewarding learning experience. People take lessons for all types of reasons. As an instructor I can give a better more meaningful lesson if I know why that person(s) is taking a lesson. Learning/listening/watching a person can very often add to the success of the learning experience. As a teacher it is very valuable to recognize body language, be a real listener and to recognize the elements of fear, bordom, lack of understanding or indifference. A good example of this would be the PSIA regimen of "do demonstations", and ignoring the fact that they person hasn't watched one single demo.

I thinks almost all the above posts represent a high degree of concern, knowledge and professionalism and it would be insulting to say "well you are professionals because you can do a good job when you don't feel like". NO you are professional because you have the training, education and experience and You Really Care.
post #44 of 44
...and I thought I was a professional ski instructor because I can discuss the polygon of sustentation.





...actually, I'm not sure I am a professional ski instructor this year...
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