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What makes you think you are right?

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
There has been so much talk lately in several different threads about the "best" teaching method, style, form, or system. I am NOT going to get sucked into a meaningless debate about which system is "better". Instead, I challenge every pro to read this with an open mind!

Many years ago, I happened to be in the office of a friend who used to run the ski school at Heavenly Valley. He had a small saying mounted on his wall, which I hope I'll never forget-

"Do not confuse officially recognized teaching systems with the way people really learn".

After reading (sleeping) through most of the recent threads, I keep asking myself, "why all the split hairs?" There is no ONE system which will ever be everything to everybody! Just as there is no one perfect ski for every person and condition. If there was such a system or ski, all others would be made obsolete immediately. And everybody else would be out of business!

I let my students be my guide when it comes to what and how I teach. I watch, listen, and ask alot of questions of each and every student I work with. Even if I have worked with them before, I always begin any session with several questions, which hopefully establish the goals, and the ground rules for achieving those goals.

This friend at Heavenly (though at the time, I was a sceptic) was far ahead of his time. Working closely with a major ski company, a system called the "Natural Easy Carve" (NEC) was developed. It had the concept of shape skis (1980-ish, long before the first radically shaped skis were available), combined with an understanding of students needs/desires/outcomes long before PSIA began seriously thinking in that direction. It allowed each student to pretty much dictate what style of progression worked best for them.

The "RED" progression was a typically wedge based system. Geared toward the more timid, defensive personalities of students. Nothing unfamiliar to anybody who has taught for any period during the past 30 + years.

The "GREEN" progression was a more aggressive, edge/pressure oriented system. This system was geared toward the more aggressive student, with some measure of athletic confidence. It was an early attempt to utilize the technology of these particular skis (larger sidecuts then were generally produced).

Both of these progressions were taught side by side. Those of us who did not understand this development had our nicknames for this system... "Not Exactly Correct", or "Not Exactly Conventional"... and a few others which are not fit to print. It was our own lack of understanding which convinced us this system was wrong. In retrospect, my own teaching would be a decade further ahead right now if I had taken the time to understand that concept, rather than put it down out of ignorance and arrogance.

So- who cares what system is used- ATS, PMTS, DTP, PTP, GLM, whatever name it carries is irrelevant! What IS important is the "PRO" who learns all of the available systems, and creates the very best learning environment for the student out of the various parts of each.

By the way, the ski company which produced the skis was Head (LR90, SR90, LR70, SR70, etc) and the gentleman (friend) to whom I refer to is none other than upcoming ETU coach and Ski Magazine Instruction Editor, and new EpicSki member- STU CAMPBELL.

So before you jump out and trash a system you know little about, open your mind, and see if there is something beneficial about it, rather than looking for the differences to your own beliefs. Are your belief systems so fragile that the existence of another system scares you?

:
post #2 of 17
Great post Ric I agree with you 99.7%. Just one thing
Quote:
"why all the split hairs?"
Cause you my friend have seen snow. I moved the lawn yesterday.

Edit:
[Tis amazing the difference of what v and w can make eh.]

[ November 21, 2003, 12:28 PM: Message edited by: Pierre ]
post #3 of 17
wow Pierre! Where did you move it to??? :

LOL

Je suis dessolee - tant pis!

anyway... Ric thanks for getting up on your soapbox!

I have seen that these "teaching" systems in the ski inductry are often about sales and marketing. They promote a resort, a professional organization, a brand of skis, etc.

Since I came to the ski industry - already a bonafide expert in "learning", but not a very good skier - my tactic has been to take as many lessons/clinics as possible and "borrow" the tools, techniques, tricks that these instructors use to add to my personal "toolbox".

I met someone at the ski show here in Boston and we got to talking - he reads these forums - and he asked me if I teach "direct to parallel". My reply was "yes, sometimes". He challenged me that I should do it always. So, I told him my philosophy (which I have posted here before)

To me there are 3 categories of skiers:

- vacationer: away for a vacation and decided to try skiing this year. this person wants to be safe and have fun.

- hobbyist: this person skis a few times a year and wants to do it well enough to enjoy themselves.

- athlete: this person considers skiing a sport and will practice and is driven to improve.

Instruction involves a lot of risks:

- the tendancy is STRONG to teach in the same style that you like to learn - to do this means you will not connect with folks who have a different learning style than you

- the tendancy is strong to try to teach "athletic" skiing, because this is the kind of skiing we do ourselves, but that DOES NOT mean that's what the learner wants or needs

- for a less experienced instructor, the tendancy is STRONG to latch onto a teaching method because they are often gimmicky and promoted as the "path to success", but as Ric pointed out - there is no ONE PERFECT SYSTEM.

The number 1 comment that I get from folks who take lessons with me (or parents who watch)... "It's obvious how much you love to ski and you make it so much fun."

This is EXACTLY why I teach skiing. Smiles, laughter, and fun are incredibly seductive! [img]tongue.gif[/img]

So, You wanna be a good instructor? Start by bringing your joy of skiing to the people!!! [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img]
kiersten
post #4 of 17
Quote:
Originally posted by kieli:
The number 1 comment that I get from folks who take lessons with me (or parents who watch)... "It's obvious how much you love to ski and you make it so much fun."

This is EXACTLY why I teach skiing. Smiles, laughter, and fun are incredibly seductive! [img]tongue.gif[/img]

So, You wanna be a good instructor? Start by bringing your joy of skiing to the people!!! [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img]
kiersten
Amen! This is the primary reason I've decided to expand my horizons into teaching skiing (the secondary reason is that I have no full-time work so I also have the time!).

After all, isn't skiing really about finding joy that we would not otherwise experience? [img]smile.gif[/img]

ssh
post #5 of 17
Of course, we all have our favorite approach to specific students who are repeat customers ... that's why you should always do your best to find a great coach and then stick with him or her from that point on. Unfortunately, for a lot of students, this is not possible. For such a student, the big advantage of ATS, for example, is that the lesson path will be consistently taught at many different resorts with many different instructors. One only needs to ask for a PSIA certified instructor and you can pick up where you left off from your last lesson. This consistency with which the material is taught is reassuring to the student, and gives the instructor needed credibility when the student is asked to try a new task. Come to think of it, isn't this the same reason why people eat at McDonalds? It's not the great food ... it's that they know what to expect when they see those golden arches.
post #6 of 17
Great Post Ric!

Seriously. As instructors, we work in an industry that sells no TANGIBLE product. Clients can't eat what we give them, they can't strap it to the top of their car, and they can't take it to the guest services office and trade it in for a differnt colored one. We sell experiences, and if we can't make those experiences a grand ordeal for our clients (regardless of the "path" we choose to walk) we should pack up our sh*t and get out of the locker room.

As educators in the world of skiing and snowboarding, we've got to make a conscious effort to screw this up. All the ingredients are already there for us! Snow, comrades, friends, equipment, clean air, wildlife, etc. Don't forget why you started skiing or boarding just so you can argue over what is the best way to play in the snow.

Spag :
post #7 of 17
Ric and Kiersten, great posts! As my son and I each are about to begin our first season as, uh, well, um . . . well, YA! As SKI INSTRUCTORS! . . . These thoughts will be the most important equipment we bring to the hill each time. Thanks so much for these timeless, universal principles.

'course, I GOTTA thank Pierre for making my day. The image of him MOVING his lawn - PRICELESS! What a hoot! I see him putting it on his boat so he can play golf while at sea! And, Pierre, thanks for leaving it alone after the error was discovered. You're a good sport.
post #8 of 17
Once someone has responded it would not be right to change the post even if its that bad. [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img]
post #9 of 17
Quote:
Originally posted by oboe:
...As my son and I each are about to begin our first season as, uh, well, um . . . well, YA! As SKI INSTRUCTORS! . . .
Hey, Oboe - CONGRATS - and with your son - DOUBLE CONGRATS - thats so neat !!!

From some of the recents posts, it seems like that there is a mini-epidemic of Epic-fledged instructors getting their wings this year. It says something awfully good about Epic.

BTW, what mountain? We'll be sure to come up and heckle you from the sidelines.

-- "Hey Coach - you know anything about PMTS?",

-- "Hey Coach - I think you lost a kid.",

-- "Hey Coach - Are you sure you want his femur to rotate around THAT axis?"

(you get the idea).



Tom / PM

PS - BTW, did you post this somewhere else before this, or is this the big announcement?

[ November 21, 2003, 04:46 PM: Message edited by: PhysicsMan ]
post #10 of 17
Ric,

Wonderful post.

Ski systems (and movements) are like a golf club. They are simply a tool. With my 6 iron I can hit the ball high, low, draw it, hook it, fade it, slice it, hit it short, hit it long along with a myriad of other options. The key issue is that I as the controller of the club (or ski or teaching system) choose how to respond to the tactical situation confronting me. No one shot is inherently better than the other-it is simply a golf shot. And if I want to win (and teach or ski better) I better have a variety of options at my disposal.

The strong instructor must develop a variety of tools for his kit bag and utilize them as needed. The key is knowing when and how to use them.

Sorry I didn’t get the chance to meet you at the MA with Bob Barnes Tuesday. I was in Florida completing my PGA Level 2 checkpoint. Two down one to go, I can smell that Class “A” card. But with the weather prognosticators calling for maybe 10 inches tonight and tomorrow I got home just in time. (Sorry Pierre )
post #11 of 17
Quote:
Originally posted by vail snopro / ric reiter:
What makes you think you are right?
The thought of my being the slightest bit wrong on anything ever in any aspect of life is too much for me to bear.
post #12 of 17
Quote:
Originally posted by Ski&Golf:
With my 6 iron I can hit the ball high, low, draw it, hook it, fade it, slice it, hit it short, hit it long along with a myriad of other options.
So can I. Problem is, I can't seem to figure out what it's going to do before I hit it... [img]tongue.gif[/img]

...and now back to your regularly scheduled discussion...

ssh
post #13 of 17
Quote:
Originally posted by PhysicsMan:
Hey, Oboe - CONGRATS - and with your son - DOUBLE CONGRATS - thats so neat !!!

From some of the recents posts, it seems like that there is a mini-epidemic of Epic-fledged instructors getting their wings this year. It says something awfully good about Epic.

BTW, what mountain? We'll be sure to come up and heckle you from the sidelines.
[/QB][/quote]

We're proud to say that our home mountain is Smugglers' Notch - America's premier family resort (which also just happens to have some gnarly terrain) which has thrived and grown under the leadership of Managing Owner Bill Stritzler. We are proud to be a part of SSU - Snow Sports University - with Peter Ingvolstad as Dean, Pat Ostrowski Training Manager, Harley Fletcher head of the youth program, and the redoubtable Sherm White heading up the adult instruction program. It is important to me that they be mentioned and recognized as responsible for putting Smuggs and SSU at the top. This is a great place and these are great people.
post #14 of 17
Great thread....happy turkey day to one and all.
post #15 of 17
OBOE&Son, congratulations!
It was about time! Are you planning to do a transcontinental tour too, just to "widen" the knowledge of teaching techniques ?
post #16 of 17
Oboe,

Welcome to your calling. You will never learn more in a short period of time than your fisrt year. Read everything, listen to everyone, discuss it with anyone who will listen, ski it and then teach, teach, teach, teach and teach some more.

I can't wait until you post your first experience of seeing one of your students "getting it" or having the "light go on". Best of luck and e-mail me I have printable 4x6 cheater cards that I can e-mail you.

Ed
post #17 of 17
Oboe- gimme a free lesson?

(Hey, someone's gotta ask!) [img]graemlins/evilgrin.gif[/img]
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