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A riddle for the teachers

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
Two questions:

1. Given the following teaching styles, which one do you favor in your own teaching?

2. Which one style is the most essential for a teacher to fully understand and appreciate?

Command Style

Task Style

Reciprocal/Small Group

Guided Discovery

Problem Solving
post #2 of 21
I prefer and enjoy guided discovery.
I think at the beginner level (Where I usually end up teaching) command is most essential and needs to be understood and mastered. I thought of Tasks style of teaching is very close to command teaching just with a "gap" between commands.
post #3 of 21
The Socratic method for subjective studies and the scientific method for objective studies. See,

This would probably translate best into guided discovery in skiing.

[ June 26, 2002, 09:42 AM: Message edited by: Maddog1959 ]
post #4 of 21
I know by the title of the thread I wasn't quite invited to the party but what the heck. Whenever we discuss approaches or progressions to teaching there are always comments about the limitations of any one specific approach. I think the same is true here for teaching styles.

While it is always worthwhile to learn as much as possible about each style (especially those that don't come so naturally) the key to great teaching is the ability to seemlessly mix them for a perfect interface between instuctor and student. The real goal, I think, is to form a team between the two that involves trust, belief, and sharing.

I think it is very noticable when an instructor has too much emphasis on one teaching style. My point is that one should learn about and be able to utilize all but not necessarily focus on any in particular. I think the best instructors use past experience and immediate feedback from the student to recognize what works and what doesn't and keep on refining the mix to achieve the highest levels of trust, belief, and sharing they possibly can.

Disclaimer: I make no claims as to being able to live up to such standards for myself.
post #5 of 21
Thread Starter 
What dchan says hints of a hierarchy of styles, where a beginner requires a style lower in the hierarchy (command, task) and someone like himself, a level 8 skier if you don't mind my saying, requires a style higher up in the hierarchy.

Am I getting that right, dchan?

On the other hand, maddog is saying that it depends on the learning objective: is it qualitative (subjective/affective) or quantitative (objective/measurable)? That's a crossover from research--where qualitative studies are acceptable in the soft sciences and quantitative studies are the rigor in the hard sciences. Either way, they involve scientific method--which is translated in ski teaching as guided discovery/problem solving (AKA convergent and divergent production).

In other threads we have been dancing around the notion that awareness is necessary for learning to occur. Gallwey says in The Inner Game of Work that awareness is not only necessary but also is sufficient for learning to take place.

That is, the role of the teacher is to increase the learner's awareness of "what is." Gallwey also said that coaching is holding a mirror up to the learner.

If Gallwey is correct, teaching is essentially an act of reciprocal learning, where the leader is the student and the follower is the teacher.

Returning to the Quinn model, there seems to be an obligation for teachers to also be on a learning curve (cycle) or ethical problems arise that compromise the teacher's personal effectiveness. Just as the role/responsibility of the learner is to observe, remember, and compare, so is the role/responsibility of the teacher to do the same, only his/her focus is on how the student responds to the teacher's offers: activites, cues, metaphors and analogies, competition, relationship, achievement, excitement, VAK, etc.

Responsibility implies that "learning transactions" have a built-in ethics. Fraudulent teaching would be anything that violates these ethics.

One-sided teaching, where learning is not reciprocated, is not merely ineffective, it is fraudulent. Therefore, I think understanding reciprocal learning is the most essential task of the teacher.

Of course, this is a different kind of reciprocal learning than usually is understood by the term...

[Edited for clarity...then again, maybe not!]

[ June 26, 2002, 04:20 PM: Message edited by: nolo ]
post #6 of 21
As an instructor, I prefer to teach with guided discovery however I find that most beginners respond better with command/task oriented teaching.

It's all about that "learning partnership" I try to adapt to what works best with the students I get.

I think being flexible is most important.
post #7 of 21
To throw a wrench into things, try teaching guided discovery in a one hour lesson. It's not easy. One of the big problems is that you might actually get the student to learn something with a little more time. But if you try guided discovery and run out of time, the student feels like they learned absolutely nothing.

The way our lessons work, any group lesson of 3 or fewer students is only 1 hour. 1.5 hrs if more than 3. Very few of our upper level lessons have more than 3 people. Therefore, to try to get the students to leave with the feeling that they learned something, you need to resort to other methods.

One thing I'll mention about my beliefs of "teching styles", is that I believe that some of these are not mutually exclusive. Reciprocal/small group (even large group) can be mixed with guided discovery, or can be done command/task. As a matter of fact, reciprocal and guided discovery work exceptionally well together as the groups discover things on their own by learning to observe others and think more about what is happening.

When given an appropriate amount of time and skiers of moderate or better ability, I enjoy using reciprocal and guided discovery together. Considering our demographics and normal lessons, I use task the most and command would probably be next. That's probably because I teach more level 3-4 than anything, with level 1 next.

Recently, while working with folks prepping for L3 exams, I found that task, mixed with guided discovery can also be a good method of teaching. Basically, I asked them to make x# of turns between lift towers, then to make y# (much bigger than x) to the next tower, but to keep their speed down the fall line consistant (time from one tower to the next), then same thing, but keeping their speed over the snow (actual speed) consistant making z# of turns(z being greater than x but lower than y). It's a task, but it's also guided discovery.
post #8 of 21
Originally posted by JohnH:
To throw a wrench into things, try teaching guided discovery in a one hour lesson. It's not easy. One of the big problems is that you might actually get the student to learn something with a little more time. But if you try guided discovery and run out of time, the student feels like they learned absolutely nothing.
Lessons scheduled to be too short in duration to actually teach the student. Hmmmmm! Sounds like the definition of fraud (a deception deliberately practiced in order to secure unfair or unlawful gain. 1). If it is well known that the one-hour lesson is not sufficient to teach the majority of the students some skill and the Ski School indicates or implies that it is sufficient time, could the Ski School be perpetrating a fraud? At best the Ski School is making enemies at a rapid rate by charging a healthy amount for no discernable benefit.

Is it any wonder that more skiers do not use Ski School’s? SSD heal thy self.

1 Excerpted from The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Third Edition Copyright © 1992 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Electronic version licensed from Lernout & Hauspie Speech Products N.V., further reproduction and distribution restricted in accordance with the Copyright Law of the United States. All rights reserved.
post #9 of 21
Originally posted by Maddog1959:
</font><blockquote>quote:</font><hr />Originally posted by JohnH:
To throw a wrench into things, try teaching guided discovery in a one hour lesson. It's not easy. One of the big problems is that you might actually get the student to learn something with a little more time. But if you try guided discovery and run out of time, the student feels like they learned absolutely nothing.
Lessons scheduled to be too short in duration to actually teach the student. Hmmmmm! Sounds like the definition of fraud</font>[/quote]I've only been teaching a short time but in a an environment where the one hour lesson is very common and class management is very different from a hill. I work on an indoor slope and just getting people 1/2 way up a travelator (10 yds) and assembled can take 10 minutes with 7 or 8 of them.

This means it is impractical to wait for everyone or even do many 'follow-me's. I seem to end up with a circular system where some people are always just arriving to a demo or partway through as a consequence of trying to keep people skiing and getting mileage.

I find it best to basically give quick private lessons to everybody, very brief instructions and demos, with questions on their return about how it went. Comparing their answer to my analysis of their attempt (to my internal goals for them dependent on my instructions) and in what terms they phrase their answer, helps me choose whether guided discovery would work quickly or slowly or if other concerns are demanding too much of their perceptual awareness.

Even if I am constantly setting tasks for them or trying to get them some mileage I try to make an awaresness of what they are doing/feeling the primary focus rather than form or task.

Students tend to arrive at almost the same point of competence in each lesson despite wildly variable improvement speeds during the lesson.

Rough times for things are 1 hr straight running and initial snowplough, 1 hr initial snowplough to linked snowplough turns (technical faults notwithstanding), 3hr beginner to competent variable radius turns.

Are these the sort of times you guys would find realistic or slow?

I try to get students to always state one piece of personal feedback about each run, whether it is 'I can't seem to turn the left ski' where the conversation can then go 'where did you think your weight was?' to the 'it felt good/awful'.

Does this make me more of a guided discovery instructor? By nature I am a command style but am trying to curb my negative feedback of all types.

All replies gratefully received
post #10 of 21
Maddog, JohnH didn't say the one-hour lesson was insufficient for teaching anything. He said it was insufficient for certain styles of teaching.
post #11 of 21
Thread Starter 
I am sticking to my story. Teachers who follow a set teaching routine are a) inexperienced, b) working with people with learning disabilities, or c) lazy.

This is not to say that "anything goes" but that each student is unique and each lesson is custom-crafted.

Can you remember the most mediocre teacher and the most inspiring teacher from high school? What was the difference?

A great teacher is not a sausage-maker but a designer of custom learning environments...

Now, Nettie and JohnH, sometimes a teacher's employer places restrictions on how much room for customization is allowed. In one hour, I'm sorry to say, you can't help but make sausages, if you can make anything at all.

The exception would be if that hour lesson, like piano lessons, is one hour of many hours in a regular sequence, presumably with practice in between sessions.

It cheapens learning to use the factory model of education, and that's THE MODEL being reinforced in the one-hour lesson.
post #12 of 21
A friend of mine once took a battery of aptitude tests. He found he was best suited to do what he had his degree in(geology) and be a ski instructor(he was an examiner). He explained that they considered a ski instructor a performing artist.(he was good at improv comedy).
Another friend, who was a professor of art education at UW, used to say"I don't know if you can educate someone to be an artist".

Does this muddy the water sufficiently? :
post #13 of 21
Originally posted by nolo:

Now, Nettie and JohnH, sometimes a teacher's employer places restrictions on how much room for customization is allowed. In one hour, I'm sorry to say, you can't help but make sausages, if you can make anything at all.
I will say that most of our students (as they have such a great time in our lessons, thank goodness) continue to have lessons until they are allowed on their own on the main slopes. Until they have that basic standard they are restricted to the lesson environment. They have several options, 1hr a week for five weeks, five days in a row (all day), individual days, half days and three hour sessions as well as hour lessons.
The lessons are nominally named with the performance standard/skill level to assist in streaming.
Luckily, we are allowed great flexibiity in our teaching, everyone having a good qulaification in ski-teaching as a minimum.
Our initial hour lessons are labelled taster sessions and are just that. They allow people who are unsure whether skiing is for them to get used to the environment and equipment.
Most people start off booking one hour as they think that skiing will be easier than they initially find it. (This is mainly due to the wobbly feeling from being on two planks and soon goes away with most people and not that skiing is actually hard just harder than they imagined).
Price and time pay an enormous part as well; most people are not in a holiday environment as they would be on a hill.

Some of my teaching backgrond is in gliding (sailplanes). In winter a lesson may consist of only four minutes and maybe two or three of those each weekend with large gaps perhaps due to bad weather. Maximum learning in minimum time, leaving the student with feelings and experiences they can mull over inbetween times.

I am trying to avoid the sausage mill whilst giving people what they want which is generally a sausage! The same sausage everyone else is getting, the same size, shape and taste. Nobody wants to think that someone else is getting on better than them.
post #14 of 21
Dchan hit the nail on the head. Flexible. Each learning situation calls for a different approach depending on the situation, the learning styles of the students, etc. I'm a school teacher by trade for 12 years. From experience.... ya use it all!

Teaching skiing is the same. It's a classroom... just outside is all. I might start out the same way, but watching responses, reactions, abilities, I find myself interacting with each student a bit differently. Sometimes I catch hints from the parents. "Don't let her get away with anything, now," a father once said to me. This little girl was enthusiastic but would quickly get discouraged and cry! I had to be the authoritarian and not let her get away with anything. in addition to this I would rememind her what she learned already, and going into detail what she couldn't do 20 minutes ago and what she can do now! These two approach, simultaneously perked her up. She advanced very well.

With variations, the lesson plan basically goes like this:
guided practice
indipendent practice

review- find out where they are all at in ability
input- new stuff
model- show how
guided practice- They do it with your help.
independent practice- they do it without your help.
evaluation- "test on Friday" It can take on any form you choose.
review- go over what has just been learned.

Verstehen Sie?
post #15 of 21
[quote]Originally posted by nolo:
[QB]Two questions:

1. Given the following teaching styles, which one do you favor in your own teaching?

2. Which one style is the most essential for a teacher to fully understand and appreciate?

There is probably a very correct answer to these questions but for the sake of learning more about this let me explore my first thoughts and then the group can help to enlighten me.

Second question first. I would think that all style listed are essential for a good teacher to understand, appreciate, and also be able to utilize when the need arises.

If the above would happen to be true then I would think it would be important for a good teacher not to favor any particular style and actually design the lesson for the student or students as it were. Of course the teacher may have to build their lesson around several types of students and or a variety of situations.

Finally wouldn’t it be important for a teacher to understand their learning style so they do not teach students with a style from only the way they learn themselves? I would think if they did only students learning in the same manner would gain anything from their lesson. [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #16 of 21
Yep John - I have had ski instructors who just COULDN'T teach me - they wanted ME to fit THEIR style & I am not quite able to. The ones who can teach me say it isn't hard - just that I don't fit a standard 'pattern' - they find it challenging to work out new ways to teach - so that I can learn. We will often discuss how something new 'feels' - may be totally un-related to skiing - to work out new ways to tap into my motor-learning.
post #17 of 21
Brilliantly said, JC!

BTW, one of the side benefits to learning to teach in ways that are appropriate for different learning styles, is that you end up developing a multitude of learning styles for yourself!
post #18 of 21
Thread Starter 
I agree that skilled instructors need a working knowledge of the five styles mentioned. I liked what dchan and maddog said about there being a "match" between a style and the level of the audience and/or the learning objective.

I would ask maddog if there is any learning that does not fit the Socratic nor the Scientific Method? Why do teachers keep command and task learning styles in their kit?

(Is Socratic Method guided discovery and Scientific Method problem solving...?)

The thing that interests me about teaching styles is the notion of "who's in control." We have discussed that many students are in it for the experience while others are after the achievement of a performance goal. We seem to agree that these are the two primary motivations for skiing. They are probably also the two primary motivations for learning to ski better.

What is starting to emerge for me is a "decision grid" that would help train new teachers to grasp this important knowledge that would help them begin to consider the possibility of designing a custom learning environment for any given student or group of students. This is a learning process in itself, and as such follows the Quinn model.

First there must be the desire to be a better teacher, then creating a specific vision of the teacher you aspire to be (personal values, vision, and mission fit here), then EXPERIMENTATION. Let's stop here for a moment. This is the what gives us juice as teachers and spawns innovation in our work. The subject of the experimentation is student learning. These are the tries and approximations to connect subject matter and student. Offer, observe, remember, compare, adjust...This leads to insight. The student confirms the insight (the student is your teacher in your learning event). You then test the insight in changed circumstances (she responded well to visualizing what's happening between the ski and the snow; let's take this skill and anchor it by skiing from the groomed margins of the run out to the ungroomed edge and back again); also, you would want to see if subsequent students are as responsive to this offer=synergy. Mastery would be the expert introduction of visualization at just the appropriate time to benefit student learning. Routinization would be incorporating visualization techniques in your everyday teaching; you might even be known as the best teacher for visual learners and become pigeonholed: in time this could get pretty boring, and slow death is ushered in unless you launch another growth cycle.

Substitute "children," "women," "fear," for some alternative areas of mastery.

Sue Miller Hurst, an educator, talks about the time she was refinishing her kitchen cabinets. At first she was clumsy, unfeeling, and technically challenged at stripping old varnish from the wood. Early efforts were crude and uneven, but as she persevered, she found that she was becoming efficient, sure in her movements, and confident. She started to experience FLOW. She found she was enjoying the work immensely and was quite proud of her results.

Sue Miller Hurst makes hundreds of thousands of dollars a year as a speaker for educator groups, but when she approached mastery as a wood stripper, she had an insane thought: "I am so good at wood stripping that I should become a professional." Suddenly she shot straight up out of the Wood-stripping Zone!

Learning can be like that, where you learn something so well that you think you should drop everything else and only do this thing. Before quitting your day job, you might wonder if the thing you're so good at has more learning cycles to it than the one you just mastered. If not, to pursue this new skill will only lead to slow death...
post #19 of 21
I have a very particular avocation, one I've been at since I can remember, at least since I was able to put pencil to paper and string words together. This would indicate something rising up from the sub/unconscious, rather than some contemplated, then decided-on choice, such as "I am going to declare myself a biology major."
The "execution" of this avocation amounts to a kind of study - practice, with attention to progress, and through trial and error, separating the proverbial wheat from the chaff - with no guarantee of "payoff." "Mastery" is elusive if not illusory; I seem to persist as if I can't help it.

I'm approaching the area of archetypes, of course, as I believe it is applicable to some of the points you've expressed, Nolo. And the archetype in question here is that of the Teacher. While some have - sticking with ski instruction - opted to teach skiing in order to ski more, stay in a ski town, make a few bucks while having fun, get the pass, etc., a few of these have probably learned along the way how to better teach skiing. Almost incidentally. And a relative few of these have blossomed into wonderful instructors, period.
There are others, though, who were Teachers before they even skied. The mountain brought that out in them and that passion provided momentum - force - for the Teacher to evolve. You notice these people in all fields; their "expertise" seems almost intuitive, "natural," as compared to book-learned. And they Love what they do because what they DO is so tied to what they ARE. In place of dogma you find curiosity. Rather than rules, you get suggestions. And instead of "Listen to me, I have the answers," there is the awareness that in the end the student teaches the student (as well as the Teacher); the instruction is simply facilitation, a stirring of ingredients waiting to be stirred.
post #20 of 21
Thread Starter 
Authenticity. YES.

Facilitation. YES.

Dialogue. YESYESYES.

Every dialogue needs an advocate, a philosopher, and a cynic.

I expect the cynic to be along any time now.

(Speaking of archetypes...)
post #21 of 21
I feel teaching styles should be matched to the students' learning preferences. Usually, folks learn through multiple channels, often in a sequence. For myself, I learn best first by watching, then by trying/doing, and ultimately by feeling the sensation of "getting it". I think lots of students like to learn this way.

What teaching styles match this commen learning sequence? I think first Command, such as "Watch and follow me". Then Task, such as "Lets vary our turn radius and have some fun doing funnel turns". Finally, Guided Discovery to that highly prized response "wow, that really FEELS great"
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