|1: Had Fun
2: Made a new Friend
3: Learned something
I like your list--it surely describes the priorities of many students. But would you agree that it reflects a generalization that is not necessarily true of all individuals? Let's explore it a little.
Many--probably most--people enjoy making new friends. But some people ski to "get away from it all," to enjoy some solitude in the mountains. Their motivation for taking the lesson might be strictly to improve their technique, for their own future
benefit, and "making friends" may be a very low priority at most.
Many skiers ski on vacation, with few long-term aspirations beyond decompressing and having some fun. When they entrust that precious vacation day to a ski instructor, if maximum enjoyment and fun truly refects their motivation and needs, that's what the instructor should help deliver. Perhaps they want no more than lift line privileges and a guided tour of the instructor's favorite runs and powder stashes. No problem! But perhaps they want more, and they are willing to work for it. (Either way, I would still argue that any technical content--any "stealth instruction" that sneaks into the experience--should reflect accurate fundamentals to the best of the instructor's ability. No shortcuts--unless
the student is fully aware that that is what you're doing, and aware of the consequencs, and still gives explicit approval.)
So the priority order you described (1. fun, 2. new friends, 3. learned something) may well please many students. I wouldn't disagree with it as a generalization. But I submit that it would definitely not please them all!
The key is to base all lessons on the specific--and perhaps unique--needs of the individual student(s), not on any sort of generalization or unverified assumption. "Safety-Fun-Learning," "Fun-friendship-learning," or anything similiar would be an insult to the student who really wanted to learn something, more than anything else.
Ironically, many instructors are prime examples of a different priority sequence than they project on their own students. Few instructors will rate a clinic highly if all they did was "have some fun." "It was fun, but it was a complete waste of my money and time"--not an uncommon summarization for goal-oriented instructors when they come back from a bad clinic! Why would we assume that our students would see it any differently? Maybe they do, but until we verify the assumption, it is a mistake to act on it.
Good generalizations are handy and helpful. But they can lead to some very bad lessons if we assume that they apply to everyone.
When you think about it, how many lessons, in any field, do we pay for and then expect first to be entertained and only last to "learn something"? Skiing may be unique, especially for casual vacationers. But others, like CharlieP (and there are many more, especially here at EpicSki) should rightly be offended by an instructor who disrespects their real desire to improve, and their willingness to work at it, even at the expense of a few moments of "fun." Sure, it's better if it's fun too. But in my opinion, the classic "Safety-Fun-Learning" hierarchy is an affront to the many "serious" students who really want to improve, with long-term aspirations for their skiing, who are willing to invest some "work" toward their future goals. We've got to be able to help them too!
|This is telling when you consider that most teaching bodies like the CSIA or PSIA or any other for that matter, really only focus on the last one [learning]...certification is surely based on it.
I'm glad you brought that up! In the Rocky Mountain Division of PSIA, at least, I can assure you that it is not
true. Certainly, the ability to teach accurate and current skiing fundamentals is critical for certification. But as it is only part of good teaching, it is not sufficient without the other parts. Especially since our adoption of the "Guest-Centered Teaching" (GCT™) Model, we emphasize the importance of identifying and addressing all pertinent student needs--not just their technical needs--and creating a direct link between technique and individual motivations. In our certification exams, instructors must demonstrate that the technical content of their lesson plan is clearly relevant to the student's motivations--whatever they may be. Creating that relevance may well involve explanations that help the students understand what their needs really are, and why they should "want" what the instructor is teaching them. Great technical content, no matter how accurate and brilliant, will not pass on its own without the clear and direct link to relevance.Furthermore, lesson plans that fail to recognize non-technique-related needs will also not pass our exams. For example, if a student expressly states (we watch a brief video interview with real students) that one of the things she enjoys most about skiing is the incredible scenery of the mountains, I would expect the instructor to address that point in his choice of terrain for the lesson, among other things. "I'd take her to VISTA, a green run perfect for the drills we'll do, that also has some of the best views on the mountain." That would work for me!That sort of awareness that there can be more to a great lesson than just learning good technique is a very big part of our PSIA certification exams in the Rockies. Candidates must demonstrate good question-asking and observation skills needed to identify various needs, including general motivation, long-term goals and desires, understanding and misunderstanding, and so on, in conjunction with the standard "movement analysis" skills that identify technical issues.
While they may not use the same models, I know that most other divisions of PSIA, as well as instructor organizations in many other skiing countries, are getting better at addressing the "full package" of what it takes to orchestrate a great lesson too. It's a step in the right direction, and a big step away from the traditional approaches of technique-driven instead of student-need-driven instruction.
Don't get me wrong--Guest Centered Teaching (or whatever you'd like to call it) is not--
and is not meant to be--
a step away from teaching good ski technique. It simply expands the instructor's awareness to the many diverse needs that may motivate someone to take a lesson--and to come back for another one. And it directs instructors to recognize generalizations that--even if true--may not apply to an individual student, and to verify before acting on assumptions about what our students need.
That said, I think it's true that some instructors can get so involved in identifying non-technical needs and trying to develop unique lesson approaches for every individual student that they miss a very important point:Good ski technique addresses many motivations!
Whether a student seeks "better carving skills," "more confidence," "a faster time in the NASTAR course," "to ski the blues," "more fluid and efficient movements," "comfort in deep powder," "elegance," "to be less tired so I can go out in the evenings," "to learn how my new shaped skis work," "better control on ice," "to impress the ski bunnies/gods/whatever," or just to "have more fun," the key to their success--and what they need from the lesson--is likely to include good, basic, sound ski technique. A better turn! Whether they know it or not. There are real reasons, after all, why good technique is, well, good!
The ability to identify technical needs and teach good ski technique is a critical attribute of all great instructors. But in addition, successful instructors all add the following:
- Identify their real motivations.
- Verify before acting on assumptions.
- Beware of generalizations that don't apply to specific individuals.
- Create relevance so students understand and appreciate how the good technique you think they need really is what they want.
- Do no harm.
|"A lesson that addresses the needs of the student cannot fail. A lesson that fails to address the needs of the student cannot succeed."
--Kim Peterson, guru of (and originator of the term) "Guest-Centered Teaching™"
PS--Before anyone gets into the typical EpicSki huff about "us vs.
them," I should point out that the above-quoted Kim Peterson was also an advisor to Harald Harb in developing his teaching model. 'Nuff said.