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can beginners teach themselves?

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
Whoa... I don't want to put ski instructors out of business... beginners are our lifeblood and our inspiration. I'm just trying to figure out a better way.

A self-guided learn to ski interpretive trail. No, wait, let's think BIG. Interpretive Learn to Ski PARK.

I myself am a bit of a closet hippie. So, I seem to always have a lot of crazy ideas sailing around my head. I have a plan to create a WICKED "Learn to ski" interpretive trail at my mountain. We'd all go nuts if I wrote everything down here... the idea just keeps growing more and more bells and whistles! It's modular teaching on a pretty grand scale.

I think my immediate perception of modular teaching could use a little work. When I think modular teaching, I think High School cafeteria... you stand in line, you hold out your plate while some hand attached to a spoon slaps a glob of something or other on your plate. A disembodied voice utters..."Next!" And you move on. Whether you like it or not.

Bottom line is, the "lesson" has to work. Can modular teaching work?? If it doesn't, then no amount of bells and whistles will save it.But dammit, I gotta lotta bells and whistles in mind.

I often find myself wondering... do I give my students too little credit for their athletic ability and overteach the basic fundamental themes? Would they learn more if they could take in the information by reading and seeing pictures then trying the things on their own, at their own pace, in their own way? I, the instructor would work from a distance, coaxing, coaching and being available to help when needed. Actually a pretty dynamic teaching mode, if your module gets full/busy. Maybe a number of instructors roam the area.

Sorry, talking to much... thinking out loud, so to speak. Anyway, my question, and I know it's maybe been asked here before, so I'll amend it a little bit... what think ye on the merits of modular teaching... with a heavy slant on the entertainment side? Like, I'm talkin' clowns, face painting, music. Like a big learn to ski amusement park. OK, the adult areas might be a little more serious. And the potential for school groups.... oooooh! Gettin' hot in here!

No way am I the first to think of this. Anyone with insight? Join the excitement, dream a little... what are your wildest ideas? If they're good, you're darn right I'll use 'em. And if ya think me crazy, then tell me why and I'll use that advice too.
post #2 of 18
One thing to consider is the way that the students learn. Some will see this type of teaching and fit right in while others will see this and have no clue what is going on, I think that if you chose your students wisely and had more personalized lessons for the students whom couldn't relate, your program could work. Still you would have to first provide an example, possibly with a few "helpers" and then help with guided practice.
as for park skiing, this type of teaching would work well, if you critiqued/encouraged the students as they accomplished a maneuver, they would either know that they had gotten it right or they would know what they had to work on. Park skiers are a bit different for a whole (generalization coming) they seem to learn more by trial and error and by visiulzation than by actual instruction, we would go out and beat the crap outa ourselves till we got it right, for actual skiing this probbably won't work.

sorry bout the rambling just got too much to type fingers can't keep up.
post #3 of 18
Georges Joubert advocated this in all of his books. One was titled Teach Yourself To Ski. He pointed out that if you practiced the basic moves he wrote about you could learn without the dogma of ski schools. I'm a firm believer that the key to learning is miles of repetition. Lessons are great for getting things to practice but real learning occurs with repetition.
post #4 of 18
I think a few group lessons will clue you in as to whether or not you should teach yourself to ski.

Of course if you are talented,coordianted, and of excellent athletic ability, it may be possible to teach yourself. I suggest you visit harbskisystems.com and buy Lito Tejada Flores' new book, "Breakthrough on the New Skis."

These two resources can help you in the quest to teach yourself to ski, but we all need instruction now and then from a qualified instructor.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ October 27, 2001 09:14 PM: Message edited 1 time, by wink ]</font>
post #5 of 18
It sounds like you can visualize pretty close to my level!...and being a first-born, germanic aries...that ain't intended as a tongue-in cheek line. Spyder's line about not everyone being at the same level (or something like that)...at a particular time is valid, but points out the validity to your modular approach!...where a beginner would move on to another area of focus ONLY after *demonstrating* the physical acknowledgement of the particular area of focused technique...(and you thought yOU ramble I began skiing by reading the mags during the 80s, I could Feel what's happenning just from the reading EXCEPT! for a key topic of ankle flex. It was the days of rather graduated-pressure from ski tip..to..tail!....and I over emphasized the "tip" part...thus not relaxing my ankles enough...and actually tipping myself into the backseat. This besides my fore-aft & lateral mis-Alignment!!(bells are ringing!!) not addressed AT ALL!!..with my poorly fitting boots...all...pretty much unsupervised and unobserved (a better word!)..held me back for a while....and really contributed to my not skiing on a regular basis...for years! I'm just in my third season of knowing what a flat ski feels like!!! So your modular approach is so much better because it can isolate a key area of focus. You know, once out on the mountain....(from being an outdoor guy from early infancy) I get/Got sooooo amped...I still have to settle down and focus on just what do i want to correct...maybe it's because of our age, we really appreciated the beauty of fresh air! at altitude
I think you're right on target....it's THE way to teach...ANYTHING really...skiing, mathematics, history!..god knows this country/government! could use some modular classes in mideast history.
This sounds like CheapSeats!...yes/no..?
post #6 of 18
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by ihavethesecret:
Can beginners teach themself to ski? <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Most of us active on Epic are not beginners, but it just occurred to me that our discussions here also involve a strong self-teaching component.

For L1 - L3 newbies, my worry about self / automat teaching is that the student might easily pick up bad habits and not know it. There will also be a HUGE number of more timid people that need to be directly under the wing of an instructor before they would even walk onto the bunny slope.

Tom / PM

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ October 28, 2001 01:48 AM: Message edited 1 time, by PhysicsMan ]</font>
post #7 of 18
One thing that has been left out of this concept is trail conditions and even the basic consideration boarding and getting off the lift.

On the latter..... After an hour and a half of a level 1 lesson, they have had some time sliding around and can at least stay on their feet for the most part. Granted, some percentage of these will "crash and burn" getting off the chair, but it will be much higher for the self instruction group. Now you will also have folks who are "at the top of the mountain" and totally freaked out after five feet on skis. An overburdened ski patrol will not love you for this.

You are also leaving out conditions such as fresh powder, mashed potatos, and worst of all, ice.

In the 1960's I was self taught but that was on warm sunny days at a tiny bump of a hill for those first ten outings. I managed to hack and slash my way to "parallel" over three years with only one trip to the hospital. I wanted lessons but the money just wasn't there.
post #8 of 18
Everyone, whether they are young or old, athletic or out of shape, should have a first lesson with an experienced instructor just to get them used to the new feeling of sliding and build up their confidence. I've worked with many groups of never-evers and by the end of the day, some were effortlessly gliding from top to bottom while others couldn't even stand on flat snow. This module concept is a good idea for the aggressive beginner who has had their first lesson and is therefore comfortable riding the lift, and making it to the bottom safely. Variances in terrain and exercises to help them get "that feeling" (whatever it may be) can really help a beginner progress quickly. The only flaw in this systam would be that everyone learns differently: While some people learn from watching, others learn from feeling, and others learn from listening. As for the more timid ones, all they need is a helping hand and an encouraging voice - something that a beginner's park cannot provide.
post #9 of 18
I think one could teach themselves how to ski without any formal instruction. But as they say, " certain strokes for certain folks " and what I mean by that is, some will do fine and learn fast on there own because of there athletic ability. But there will be some that will pick up bad habits because of things like fear, balance issues, athletic ability in general, peer pressure and probably a half dozen other things that would just pop up. And that's not to say that even the very athletic person wouldn't pick up some of these same bad habits along the way.

Being a teacher of snow skiing, I would NOT like to see this start to become a fad, which I'm sure you can understand. I think it's going to be tuff enough trying to make a living this winter after the events in Sept, and the lack of people coming to my mountain to ski this season.

I've heard a lot of talk from people that are not teachers say that lessons are too costly, and " why take a lesson, I'll teach you ". NOT! : I'm sure that there's no one in this forum reading this that has never skied before, but there are Pros out there that have heard this . And ski lessons aren't really that costly if you take regular class lesson. We offer a program for beginners that gets you a lift ticket, lessons for the day, and equipment for just under $100.00. That's cheap, I think. It works out to where the person is paying about $20.00 bucks for an all day lesson. And if they continue, it gets cheaper. I would pay $20.00 a day to learn the right way and not develop any bad habits, wouldn't you?

So I think one is better served by taking lessons as a beginner. Almost all the ski areas offer a deal for the first time skiers, to get more people skiing, and to build a larger skier base that has dwindled in the last few years. So don't go out there and pick up a lot of bad habits. Come and learn the right way and have fun doing it! My two cents worth---------Wigs
post #10 of 18
I have a sheaf of notes I started making last season for a learning terrain park. It would be outside the more advanced traffic pattern, but be open for all to use, including lessons. I have always guided people to use terrain features as learning tools.

One of the ideas is to have 'performance zones' staffed by hosts or instructors, or with simple signage that would show people some activities good(necessary) for the next section(level) of the park.

I think it would be great to create large, dedicated beginner to beginning intermediate environments on the mountains designed for easy access, flow, and exit. Self instruction becomes a more successful likelihood that way. Heck It really happens on a rather large scale already anyway, as most people who come up with friends get left alone anyway. People just end up having to try it in crowded, dangerous, unfriendly areas where they can get lost.

Area management and instruction management both recognize the importance of the new guest. Providing success oriented environments is a service relative newcomers would appreciate and use more often. It could actually end up creating more learning center jobs than it would take away. Promoting successful self instruction can only benefit instruction at large. It is through learning people discover the value of instruction.

The more you know, the more you realize you don't know.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ October 28, 2001 09:04 AM: Message edited 3 times, by Roto ]</font>
post #11 of 18
One beginner lesson isn't going to do a damn bit of good for most people. They are going to go to harder terrain and forget everything they learned. And pick up the same bad habits that they would pick up if they had no lesson. Even 3 beginner lessons might not do much good. To become a good skier, one must have frequent and continuing instruction, even if most of it comes from a book or video, or a website.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ October 28, 2001 09:38 AM: Message edited 1 time, by milesb ]</font>
post #12 of 18
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the input everyone. Just as I had suspected, there's some different views out there, but so far I haven't encountered anything I haven't considered already in my plans. Roto, steve, YEAH! You get what I'm saying. Hope we can talk more about this in the next few days, gang!
post #13 of 18
In my opinion, self taught ski instruction is exactly what you see 90% of all skiers on the mountain doing. I believe that this is really what you are looking at when you think of TTS(traditional teaching systems) in a negative light. Thats right TTS is really (Teaching To Self).
post #14 of 18
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by milesb:
One beginner lesson isn't going to do a damn bit of good for most people. They are going to go to harder terrain and forget everything they learned. And pick up the same bad habits that they would pick up if they had no lesson. Even 3 beginner lessons might not do much good. To become a good skier, one must have frequent and continuing instruction, even if most of it comes from a book or video, or a website.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

I would bet that a skier who never took lessons, skied all day and then went home would progress faster and have more fun than a skier who came up, took a lesson and went home. Not to say that instruction isn't worth it, but a lot of perennial intermediates do just that, take a 2 hour lesson and go home.
post #15 of 18
Thread Starter 
Learning happens when we challenge our thinking. Some agree, some disagree and that's awesome power, because that gap in between is where the real good stuff is.

Today's musings:

It doesn't matter if you are a "thinker", an "analyzer", a "visual learner", whatever they're saying these days... you learn to ski by skiing! Yes, it is true that we all have a certain preferred mode of interpreting information programmed in our computers. But when we're talking skiing, we all learn simply by doing.

When we are discussing teaching beginner skiers, the rules are very simple. Teach the bottom line. How much does a student really need to know about making a braking snowplow? Say it any way you want, but all they need to know is that they gotta point their toes together and their heels apart. A still picture or series of stills of this action is just as effective, perhaps more effective than a demonstration by a ski teacher. I genuinely believe that beginner teaching in a modular format can and will become much more effective than traditional group lessons, mostly because it MORE accurately pinpoints an individual's learning style.

Why? Because it lets them be themselves. It doesn't matter if the information comes from a sign with pictures, or from a ski instructor, it's still just information. And for beginners, the less information the better. "Bottom line teaching". Just the facts, please. The individual learner takes the information and applies his/her individual learning style all on their own. Identifying individual learner types is MEDICINE that the average ski instructor is not qualified to practice. Yeah, yeah, it's part of the training doctrine, and yes it's important, but if you're telling me that you can be qualified in this field by virtue of your CSIA/PSIA course work, then we might have some pissed off psychologists who wonder why they spent all that money at school for all those years.

Ultimately, there is simply a task at hand. The modules identify and describe specific tasks and make these the focus of the practice. The how-to information is delivered in the modules by a combination of live human ski instructors and descriptive media. The students are given the responsibility for their own learning. The ski instructors are charged with the responsibility for providing consistent information relevant to the task at hand, encouragement/coaching, and maintaining safety control of the area. They call this class management, but this is a pretty dynamic environment. Lots going on. My instructors have to be GOOD.

The thinkers will ID themselves by asking lots of questions. The visual learners might ask for a live demo. The feelers will translate the information into something they can feel, an image, and go off and try it.

There can be no unreasonable time limit on a beginner lesson. So, if a student, responsible for their own learning, feels they need more time on a particular module, they take more time. If it takes all day, so be it. Better for that person to be in a safe and productive environment, challenging themselves at their own pace, than spit out of a two hour crash course that may or may not have done them much good.

Management dudes, beginners is where the volume is in ski teaching. Obviously. So to make the most money, you gotta sell the most lessons. If you want to teach a whole lotta people the same curriculum, you gotta have a system. The best system costs you the least and makes you the most. The quality has to be amazing, so it will sell itself with the best means of advertising; that's word of mouth. So you need some high quality ski instructors and give 'em a high caliber office to work in.

No beginning or end here, just bedtime. So have at 'er, friends. Make some fun, talk dirty about ski teaching.
post #16 of 18

>>Teach the bottom line<< >>How much does a student really need to know about making a braking snowplow<<

First off, the last thing I would want to teach a new skier first, is a braking snowplow. That would lead to standing around all day. And I would hope that if there were some that want to teach themselves how to ski, and ask for a little advice, that it isn't, " You should learn the braking snowplow ".

Second, >>Identifying individual learner types is MEDICINE that the average ski instructor is not qualified to practice<<

If this is something that I do everyday and I'm aware of how people seem to learn and perform tasks, then I feel that I'm just a qualified as anybody at determining learning styles.

There are folks that can learn on there own. But there's a lot more that need there hand held, and that's where we come in. Still yet, I find that even the very athletic that could probably teach themselves how to get up and down the mountain without me, still would like to know if they are doing it right. Sometimes I get guys that are no doubt athletes, that have tried to teach themselves how to ski. But after a few days, weeks, etc, they come to me and say, " Well I got the basics, but I'm stuck. It just seems like I'm working too hard at it, and I really have trouble in certain types of terrain ". And most of the time, I find that it's balance, and excessive body motion, ( Trying to muscle everything ) that's the problem.

So, ihavethesecret, I looked at your profile, and it says professional skier. Are you a ski teacher? And if I'm reading you right, why are you telling folks to not take lessons and do it on there own. : --------------Wigs
post #17 of 18
Thread Starter 
Wigs, buddy... Yes I am a ski teacher and ski and snowboard school director. No, you are not reading it right.

I will not argue the merits or demerits of a "braking snowplow". I merely intended to to pluck out an image from the process of learning to ski as an example in that particular context. My point is: the teaching of beginners is very simple. The information is very "bottom line". What is the task at hand? What body movement must take place to accomplish the task at hand?

Module 1 deals with equipment familiarity, how to adjust skis, boots, what to wear, what to expect in subsequent modules.

Module 2 deals with basic mobility exercises, learning to walk in ski boots, balance drills, mobility exercises and drills, side step, herringbone step, skating step. This is done on flat terrain, with or without poles. These exercises serve as a gentle cardio warm-up period. Within this module, there are some entertaining obstacles to negotiate, and music to liven the mood. After all, we are teaching people to dance with gravity.

Module 3 introduces the Alpine Responsibility Code, snow safety, what to do in case of an accident, what do the different signs and symbols located at a ski area mean...

Module 3a continues in the safety vein by introducing the importance of stretching and a proper warm up. In module 2, the students were encouraged to move vigorously to get the blood pumping. Now, they are introduced to a number of ski-specific stretches they can do to ensure their bodies are working at their best before moving on to the more challenging stations.

Module 4 introduces the straight run and begins the experience of sliding. The terrain is very gently sloping so that uncontrolled speed never becomes a factor. Students are encouraged to make many laps of this small slope, adding aggression, intensity and terrain as they see fit. In order to "graduate" from module 4, students must demonstrate the ability to come to a stop under via their own efforts.

Module 5 introduces the safe and correct use of lifts. This module is manned by a member of the ski patrol.

Module 6 introduces turning. Very gentle terrain is used, the past module is reviewed and practice on turns is undertaken in an area well away from any other skiers. This run is marked "Ski School Only". Students "graduate" from module 6 by demonstrating proficiency in linking turns and appearing comfortable at increased speeds.

Module 7 is a challenge station. In order to gain access to other lifts, students must pass a number of skills challenges, ranging from speiss turns or hop turns, to 1 ski turns, or successfully completing an obstacle/race course.

In this description, the modules are geared toward a school group. The information on the modular signs is the subject of an exam they take back at school in their next phys-ed class.

NO this does not eliminate ski instructors. Far from it! And the instructors in the modules have to be GOOD. I said that before, I just said it again. This is very dynamic teaching. It's better.

The modules incorporate live human hands-on teaching, terrain features designed to fit specific tasks, informational signage, a non-threatening/distracting environment. All these features can do nothing but enhance an instructor's capabilities.

You'll notice that the instructor's responsibilities increase as the modules become more challenging. The early modules encourage the students to take the responsibility for their learning unto themselves. They build confidence as they feel the sense of self-satisfaction that comes from accomplishing something on their own. The instructor's role is to identify those who need the most help, and provide general positivity to the place.

Enough for today.
post #18 of 18
Sorry for not remembering that you were a teacher, etc. : It's been a long summer. I actually got you confused with that kid that thought he was better than God and everybody on the boards from last year. :

>>Module 1, etc <<

Actually, this is very much the same program that we put fourth at our ski school. You suggest that there is a lot of team teaching. We do this too, but we try to get our guest into a class with the pro that will be there savior, and to start to develop some class unity, some laughs and back slapping as soon as possible. I believe that small classes, ( no more than five guests ) promotes a team atmosphere within the group, which in turn promotes fun.

I see that you got on board here last Feb. And you might have not read the post on our Beginner's Magic program that we started last season. If you haven't, see if you can find it in back logged post from last winter. ( Dec 19th ) Almost everything you suggest in your post we do, except that we now teach direct parallel from day one on short shaped skis.

Anyway, sorry for reading your first post wrong and hope you have a great season.---------Wigs
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