Originally Posted by nolo
|Aside from things of technical, methodological and attitudinal nature, I learned one important difference between the place of emphasis in teaching skiing in France and in America. In America the emphasis is on explanation-demonstration and having the student practice a certain maneuver until he is proficient at it. The act of skiing is secondary to technique in American ski instruction. In France, however, the overriding attitude is that the student learns faster and better by emphasis on skiing itself, guided by a minimum of explaining and demonstrating. The French student is encouraged, forced or cajoled into educating his physiology as much as his brain.
How does this passage strike you? Blasphemous? Inspirational? Irrelevant? What? (Obviously, I think it's brilliant, or I wouldn't have singled it out and typed it up for y'all.)
It strikes me as potentially
valuable, with some caveats.
I've certainly been guilty of talking too much. Most of us probably have been.
I've spent time teaching at a major Colorado resort, though, and I've had a number of students from Great Britain (sorry, I don't speak French, which can be a problem around here!) who had also taken lessons in France. They universally offered the opinion that American lessons (not just mine) were more useful, more oriented to the needs of the student, and more valuable to them - even though I doubt that I can keep up with most French instructors in many situations.
I believe a major component of teaching, like skiing, is balance. We need skiing itself, and we need technique. We need to break it down, and we need to put it back together.
Yes, we explain and demonstrate. Skiers at all levels, and novice skiers in particular, need guidance regarding what they're looking at and what they're looking for when they watch someone ski. They also need functional feedback regarding what they're actually doing when they ski, as opposed to what they think they're doing - and any good instructor will take the time to find out what they think they're doing.
We've all ridden up the chair with someone who, while watching someone come down the hill in an, um, "athletic" fashion, comments on what a great skier that person is. If it's not our guest making the comment, we bite our tongue to avoid an unwanted debate.
So, yes, we explain, sometimes too long. And, yes, we demonstrate, often too mechanically. And, yes, top level clinicians can, and do, make the same mistakes on occasion.
But we also encourage and cajole. We know (or should know) what our guests are there for. It's a recreational activity, after all. They wanna go play! They want to reach a point where they can have a little more fun than they had yesterday.
This is, perhaps, where we stumble. Can we help our guests take whatever it was that we were explaining and demonstrating (briefly and clearly, we hope) and put it back into the mix of their skiing so that they will
be encouraged and motivated to keep doing, improving on it, and playing
with it? Can we help them ski
, rather than helping them do programmed movements more accurately?
I will also suggest that American instructors rarely force
their guests to do anything, despite the example provided by certain US government activities!