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Unusual usage of common terms in skiing

post #1 of 44
Thread Starter 
I started this thread because of the side discussion starting up between Nolo and me in the thread, So when does the turn begin? .

I didn't want to derail that thread.

Originally posted by nolo:
</font><blockquote>quote:</font><hr /> My only worry is that if an instructor suggests this or any other definition which is at odds with a student's previous understanding of a seemingly straightforward term, some people may get completely hung up, and either get distracted by thinking about it, or (without enough background info on why the instructor is suggesting this), think the instructor is FOS, say nothing, but start to discount other things that he/she suggests.
Physicsman, this was the sentence that offended me. If instructors do NOT suggest alternative ways of understanding terms, then they are not thinking and growing, they are regurgitating. Further, I read "at odds with a student's previous understanding" as an argument for not disturbing the system (in this case the student is the system) when indeed this is exactly what a good teacher does, and quite deliberately! ...</font>[/quote](1) With respect to your comment about the instructors "...not thinking and growing...", I hate to sound harsh, but IMHO, your comment is irrelevant to the discussion which preceded it. My original statement was about ski students and teaching them effectively, not about the professional growth and satisfaction of ski instructors. Other than as it impacts teaching effectiveness (say, because of burnout), the latter is an entirely separate issue.

(2) With respect to the precision of my original statement, I don't see how you can possibly deny that a student's confidence in their instructor (ie, someone, in most cases, that they have just met) would not be seriously undermined if the instructor starts speaking what seems like BS to the student.

I only wanted to caution that attempting to redefine words and concepts learned over a lifetime will be treading dangerously close to sounding like rubbish to many people, and should be done only with appropriate introduction and justification. Unfortunately, there usually isn't enough time for this in the normal, single, isolated, group ski lesson that most people experience.

Intelligent people know that there are many charlatans around (yes, even ski instructors) who redefine terms for their own ends, particularly, as a way obscure their own true lack of understanding, or to be able to use flawed logic without it being obvious to the listener. All I am saying is that when a stranger attempts to redefine commonly used terms, red flags start going off in many peoples' minds, and this can be highly detrimental to the learning process.

(3) Finally, I have problems with your statement,

> ...for not disturbing the system (in this case the student is
> the system) when indeed this is exactly what a good teacher
> does, and quite deliberately!

One must carefully distinguish between (a) a disturbance in the system that is the result of new understanding, and (b) intentionally disturbing the system in an attempt to facilitate the uptake of new information & synthesis into understanding.

IMHO, the best teachers do the former, whereas I feel that the latter should only be done in extraordinary situations. As an example, consider two different (somewhat exaggerated) approaches one might take to introduce the two meanings of the word, "turn" to an introductory physics class.

In approach #1, I might say to students, "When I say the word 'turn' to you, probably many of you think about changing the direction you are facing. However, don't forget that it can also mean changing the direction you are going. The reason we have to consider both meanings is blah, blah..."

In approach #2, I might say, "For the purpose of today's discussion, I want you to forget that "turn" usually means a change in the direction something is facing. Instead, I am going to use the word "turn" specifically to describe the change in the direction something is going."

The first approach acknowledges the intelligence and previous experience of the student and builds on it, whereas the second approach will likely seem imperious and dismissive. In the first approach, the disturbance in the student's image of the world will come as a result of an a new expanded understanding resulting from the expanded definition, whereas in the second, the disturbance will come up front, by a seemingly arbitrary throwing-out of a perfectly fine definition. I would argue that the first approach is generally more effective.

Just my $0.02,

Tom / PM
post #2 of 44
This is a nonstarter for me, Physicsman. I probably over-reacted to the tone of your posts.

Everybody's learning in this place. Let's keep it up. If it means we deconstruct a common term in order to reconstruct it, I call that a good exercise, and one that is worthwhile for a student at any level and in any field of endeavor.
post #3 of 44
Words, what are they?

If a truck is unloading at a warehouse, they are parking in the "bay". Doesn't it get wet?

If you have a container of sugar, it says on the box, "Keep dry". So how can you keep it dry in your coffee?

We need to explain our words at times...

So "look out"......
post #4 of 44
Thread Starter 
Originally posted by nolo:
This is a nonstarter for me, Physicsman. I probably over-reacted to the tone of your posts.

Everybody's learning in this place. Let's keep it up. If it means we deconstruct a common term in order to reconstruct it, I call that a good exercise, and one that is worthwhile for a student at any level and in any field of endeavor.
I'm OK with that.

WRT learning on EpicSki, I couldn't agree more. After seeing what it takes in a forum like this to fully explain even the simplest of terms, I'm even more impressed that you pros can do what you do within the constraints of the usual 1.5 hour walk-in lesson.

Good on ya. [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img]

Tom / PM
post #5 of 44
I can't wait for that next big dump!
post #6 of 44
In the same way that some places seed clouds to encourage the moisture to form droplets and hopefully snow, you should try seeding your stomach with high fibre foods.

post #7 of 44
Thread Starter 
I suspect he meant around here. :

Tom / PM
post #8 of 44
As a consumer of the instructional product, I appreciate from any instructor the attitude of understanding and acceptance described by PhysicsMan.
post #9 of 44
I do have something to say about our use of words after all.

Teaching involves the deployment of three types of communications (aka learning cues): visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. We do this by showing (demonstration), asking/telling (inquiry and advocacy), and doing (experiential learning).

Demonstration is a nonverbal but fairly eloquent way of sending messages to another person's brain through the visual cortex. People who cut their teeth in the past 50 years are particularly receptive to visual cues.

Inquiry and advocacy are purely verbal. The ratio of questions to explanations in most training situations is estimated at 1/10. To create an open environment that is conducive to experiential learning, that ratio should be flip-flopped.

Experiential learning involves two D-words: doing and debriefing. The experience needs to be anchored through meaning for learning to occur, and meaning necessarily involves words. In order to help the learner articulate "what happened" and compare and contrast it with "what I intended to happen," the teacher needs to show empathy by accepting the student's explanations at face value and then asking "why questions." A coach I know taught me to always go at least two questions deep if you want to find out what a person has to say. When a student can articulate what he or she did, what he or she intended, and understands what accounts for the difference between his/her intent and the end result, then I would say real learning has occurred.

When we examine what our words mean, we are directly engaged in semantics, which is the study of word meanings. All discourse is ultimately about semantics, insofar as we exchange our assumptions about what words mean, where I assume that what I mean by a word is identical to what you mean by a word.

My point is this: there is no word, no matter how common, that is not defined by usage, context, and questions to the user as to his or her meaning. Every conversation necessarily involves some back and forth negotiation to arrive at "shared meanings" and "shared understandings."

[ May 28, 2003, 09:26 AM: Message edited by: nolo ]
post #10 of 44
nolo ,I love the way you write , I wish I could express myself in English like you do.
( I think I can't express myself in SPANISH like that )

[ May 28, 2003, 11:24 AM: Message edited by: extreme veteran ]
post #11 of 44
extreme veteran, I too like the way nolo writes, but sometimes she strays a bit from the sensical and enters the veldt of academic palabric onanism.

it's simpler to say it this way:

learning is at its most efficient when it happens via Socratic dialogue, in which both the teacher and the student learn from themselves and each other.

all the hodgepodge about semantics is silly wordplay, especially when it gets highly philsophical, bordering on illogical (read, Foucault/Derrida/semiotics). I love playing with words and would enjoy running circles around les breres semiotique and their followers, but that's all just academic... which is why it's such insanity to try to make it practical.
post #12 of 44
Thank you very much! I studied languages in college and worked as a Russian translator after college for a couple of years. This is where I learned the importance of context, as we were trying to create an automated language translation system (Systran was the name of it) and our attempts at getting the machine to translate accurately sometimes was pretty funny. For example, we had the darnedest time getting the software to stop referring to an elevator as a sexual lifting apparatus.

I guess we're products of our experiences and so is the way we express our impressions of those experiences. If that echoes of deconstructionism, then it comes naturally, because I know nothing of Derrida and Foucault.
post #13 of 44
nolo, I'm VERY happy you don't follow Foucault or Derrida, because I'd think you'd be very hard to follow if you did seek their semiotic way of "deconstruction" that more resembles DESTRUCTION of meaning.

to put it simply, Foucault, Derrida and the deconstructionist semioticians essentially believed that words have no meaning outside what their reader/hearer perceives them to mean. while there's some truth in that observation, it's certainly not the end of the inquiry - unless you're Derrida, Foucault or their followers.

it's slightly interesting from a purely intellectual perspective, but it undoes communication. Therefore IMHO it's impractical at best, and pure anarchy at worst.

my reference to your academic wanderings is a kind way of saying that sometimes, you resemble the pseudo-revealer JimBobBubba in his sporadic anti-environment missives.
post #14 of 44
Thread Starter 
Ahh, Systran ... I certainly don't mean to demean the progress made in developing Systran, but wasn't that the (in)famous system that when you asked it to translate the phrase, "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak", into Rusian and then back into English it came out:

"The vodka is strong, but the meat is rotten"

Tom / PM

Ref: http://www.publications-etc.com/russ...es/9907_3.html
post #15 of 44
Ha! Someone who's heard of Systran. That sounds like my work.
post #16 of 44
Oh my gosh, Systran.

I spent 14 years as a Russian linguist working in military intelligence (yes, I already know--an oxymoron). Every once in a while someone would point out that Systran (Or one of a couple other systems being worked on) would put us on the unemployment line. That hasn't happened, but the amount of knowledge gathered in collateral fields whilst working on that problem is impressive in its own right.

I'm a nurse now, so I guess it will take more than intelligent software algorithms to put me out of business. But thanks for dredging up some rather fond memories. . . .
post #17 of 44
Powered by SYSTRAN - http://world.altavista.com/
post #18 of 44
Originally posted by Midwestskier:
Every once in a while someone would point out that Systran (Or one of a couple other systems being worked on) would put us on the unemployment line.
Midwestskier - I'm pretty sure I'd be safe in saying that those people only spoke one language.
post #19 of 44
May I digress for a moment and mention a pet peeve that might be loosely spun into a GCT issue? I suppose as long as I can type I can.

Kids today, when given a tip and a word of thanks, will often resond to my thank you by saying, "no problem". I want to scream....."the operative expression your seeking is your welcome" or "had there been a problem I wouldn't be thanking you or offering a tip".


I guess I'm getting old. For a long time "my bad bro" was tantamount to scratching a fingernail on a blackboard.

How does this relate to skiing? I now refuse tips because you guys convinced me it's unprofessional, however, if I ever get offered another one along with thanks I won't say, "hey.....no problem standing out here on a five degree day picking your thirty pound overweight carcass off the deck all day for $15.00/hour when in fact by now I should be CEO of a Fortune 500 company and have a house in Aspen with some sleek blond Aspen looking augmented honey and be taking a lesson myself."

It's all just words I guess.
post #20 of 44
Rusty, youthful sayings are indeed silly. They were silly when you were young, when I was young, when 30somethings were young, and today.

Bad manners is a different topic. I particularly abhor people who try to excuse their mistakes by saying "my bad." YOUR BAD WHAT, idiot? A mistake is not a "bad," it's a fargin' error and someone might be hurt by it. Saying you made a "bad" doesn't cut it.

Young adults say "no problem" as if it meant "you're welcome."

I say "yep" when someone thanks me for opening a door, but thanks me in a dismissive or obligatory fashion. When they truly thank me, I say "you're welcome."

But it's all just words, eh nolo?

So much for the ivory tower.

post #21 of 44
You curmudgeons don't live with teenagers, do you?

In case it has never occurred to you: The reason English is such a rich language is because it is alive. "My bad" is idiomatic--how is it less viable than "my goodness"?

Both of you are too young to be cranky old people.
post #22 of 44

I have a ten year old whom I dearly love....the problem is she thinks she's eighteen.

I'm a grouch because my favorite time of year to ski is spring at A-Basin and Loveland and I've been on crutches for six weeks.

I just ditched the crutches tuesday and my shrivled leg feels like scat.

Will I be grumpier as my little girl gets older?

[ May 29, 2003, 08:05 PM: Message edited by: Rusty Guy ]
post #23 of 44

Unless you learn to "chill". Yes

post #24 of 44
The kids will take over the world. Get used to it.

Rusty, I'll give you a bye on the grumpiness under the circumstances, but heed Ydnar, as your hotblooded teen will be relying on you to keep a cool head.
post #25 of 44
Ten years old? Wait a few more years and tell us about it. It's enough to make one feel that having kids was my bad when in fact all I need to do is remind myself that it is, indeed, no problem. [img]tongue.gif[/img]
post #26 of 44
You folks are making the hair stand up on the back of my neck. If I can just keep her on skis or a mountain bike as opposed to the mall I think I'll be fine.

She is a pretty girl like her mom. Yesterday at swim practice a mother came up to me a pointed out she was surrounded by a cadre of older (12&13) boys.

No Problem?

Yes it was and is a problem.....and yes I do need to chill or it will be my bad bro!
post #27 of 44

Having a 22 year old daughter, and seeing her surrounded by boys and now men, it is disconcerting and very scary. Chilling out is the best thing that you can do. Just like skiing the crud,it is good for you. Let it be and keep the focus on the line and not the braking. Relaxing in the right manner makes all the difference. Emily's sports will take her through and also give her more attention from the boys, which is more crud skiing for you and the bumps and groomers for Emily. EABrown
post #28 of 44
My kid will be 16 and driving in less than a month. My answer "Whatever".
post #29 of 44
Hey, Pierre, within one week of getting her license at 15, my now-16-er got ticketed for speeding, clocked at 90 MPH. In the heat of parental redirection she proclaimed, "I'm a good driver!"

They're all drain-bamaged for a few years, but I am told that if they can maintain minimal life support functions they will eventually emerge from the chaos of adolescence into the hard core confusion of adulthood and the eventual senile dementia of doddering old age.

[ May 30, 2003, 09:17 AM: Message edited by: nolo ]
post #30 of 44
nolo, I don't have to worry all that much. She is conservative enough that her friends call her Dr. Laura and her ideal vehicle is a Ford F 350 Diesel. I and my wife am still her heros. She is to busy with school and marching band to get into much trouble.
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