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Re: So What. Excuse Me?

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
Sorry in advance, but this struck a nerve and I must question your logic that de-prioritizes the Quality of WHAT you teach.

To quote Floyd:
"Our job is to put smile on faces. (Stole that phrase sorry!) No more and no less. Direct Parallel, PMTS, PSIA, Perfect Turn, so what! Give me the tools to take my customers coming from all walks of life and put a smile on their face and we have made the goal. "

I've seem to have put years of effort into learning about teaching and skiing and learning when all I really needed to do was memorize a few jokes! Is marketing schmooze and a glib delivery a valid substitute for a product quality. Is this what Detroit is trying to prove with the junk they offer compared to the Japanise and Germans?

I thought our job, as professionals, was to find out why the customer was taking a lesson, to first discover what are THEIR MOTIVATIONS, and THEIR GOALS and THEIR EXPECTATIONS are for improving THIER SKIING, and then deliver a quality product that MEETS THEIR NEEDS, not one that just happens to be centered in OUR comfort zone and is the path of least resistance for us.

If I were to go take a golf lesson should I be satisfied with a Pro who teaches me to hit a slice because it is the easiest shot for me to learn, especially just because he makes the lesson an enjoyable experience?
Sorry not this paying customer!

If you are paying for a professional lesson, in any sport, wouldn't you expect to be taught efficient basic movements that would allow you to continue to learn and progress to whatever skill level you aspired to? Wouldn't you also expect it to be an enjoyable experience? But, how happy would you be if you later learned that you had been taught inefficient movements that created habits that would need to be unlearned before you could progress?

Hello!!! WHAT you teach IS important. HOW you teach is also important. But it doesn't offset teaching inefficient (poor quality) movements to customers who expect, and TRUST you to deliver a high quality product. Their ignorance is not your opportunity to deliver less! If all you are doing is cheerfully selling ice skates in the Saraha Desert you maybe a great salesman, but are you fullfilling the role of a professional instructor? It takes very little knowledge or skill to lead people around a mountain and show them a good time without them learning anything of true value. Sometimes they even learn in spite of these pseudo-pros. It takes a real Pro to deliver a truely valuable learning experience with quality content wrapped in fun package.
post #2 of 12
Ditto what Roger said!

post #3 of 12
I agree too!

Down with those who say empty-headed mediocrity is what people really want.
post #4 of 12
Arcmeister, I absolutely agree with your point and bringing this point up is right on the money. That said, Floyd did say this but in re-reading his post, I am not sure his post isn't being taken out of context. I'm not sure that entertainment alone, is what he had in mind.
A pro who really understands skiing inside and out can usually simplify complicated things much better than someone who doesn't fully understand. A person can be entertained but still confused.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ February 08, 2002 12:55 PM: Message edited 1 time, by Pierre eh! ]</font>
post #5 of 12
Thank you for your comments pro and con to my earlier post that I noted received an Amen from a non-instructor. Thanks for that one vote of confidence.

We argue and fight over territories like PSIA, PMTS, Perfect Turn etc. and I guess that is fun but in the end what I think we need to look at what our customers in general want. We should be collectively working towards a goal of satisfying our customers and not wasting our energies on territorial disputes. There is good in all the methods out there. Maybe we should collectively put together a book called “The Good of It All.”

We may not want to believe it but the average skier taking lessons, in my experience, really wants to go out and have a lot of fun and couple in a few good ideas that will make their skiing more enjoyable. When you hit the fun meter they may or may not come back but so what. You did a great job for them, they like skiing, and they are part of our sport but yes they may never have and interest in skiing technical clinics. However this just makes them the average recreational skier out to have a good time, do a little shopping, and drink a nice wine etc. That does not make them “air heads” and instructors that realize these people are the majority of the skiers taking lessons on all slopes are not teaching to marketing of a Disney World. It also does not mean the instructors seeks less knowledge or has less knowledge. I believe it is unfair imply either.

We have discussed to death why students don’t return. Maybe it is because we hit their fun meter and more would be less in their minds eye and maybe it would be. Maybe it is because we started out giving them more and they wanted less and we never got the fun meter off the peg. I suspect the later a lot of the time. Why? I have asked over the years many past lesson takers and basically they all said the same thing in a different way. Boring!

As instructors I believe we need to look closely at this situation and weigh it for ourselves. The passion and thirst of the instructor for knowledge and understanding is great and will help the instructor with even the average student that is and wants to be a recreational skier. However we can chase them away by not putting a smile on their face and a little wind in the hair. I teach the average skier most of the time and they want fun and simplicity even though I believe I have the knowledge and skills of my gold pin. I also teach at a small ski area and my customers may be vastly different from yours. At least this approach has worked for me in my world because I am fortunate to have a pretty decent return rate and most of my time is spent with private instruction on request. Your world may be quite different than mine.

Let me add one other item. Putting a smile on their face and wind in their hair has nothing to do with not teaching them correct skills. To assume so would be to assume wrong.

Have a good day!


<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ February 08, 2002 10:21 PM: Message edited 1 time, by Floyd ]</font>
post #6 of 12
Here's my quick nickel: I beleive we need to do our job there with everyone. It should a fun learning experience. While we should show them a good , it our job to make it educational; to give each skier something to imorove their game. At the same time, I think we would all agree that an educational experience does not need to be a dry dissertation on the priciples of good skiing. We can teach and ski a lot too.

Further, I strongly believe that we as Pros need to experiment! I would encourage all the Pros out there to experiement with diffeent teaching programs. Take the PSIA model whihch everyone here is famailiar with and BUILD on it. Look at PMTS or whatever, read a few magazine articles and pull some stuff from these and TRY IT OUT!! Tell your students you're trying something new. I do this all the time. It's how I've develeoped my own approach over the years. They like it when you tell them this because they feel you are really on it and willing to make things unique for the them. You may acutally hit on something cool!

I would encourage all the Pros in here to be progressive and try new things. It has, unfortunately, been my limited expereince with some ski school directors a couple years ago that there was very little openess to alternative ideas. I did an on-slope presentation to a bunch of these folks and the ideas I put forth were evalutated in terms of the percieved similarites to conventional teaching methods and how everything was the same. There were and still are some subtle, yet fundamental differences that nobody was willing to acknowledge AND (this is the MOST important) no one was willing to even try the program on actual students. This unwillingness to experiment was the real crusher. Because how can we make advances without evne experimenting with alternatives. This is why it seems that a lot of the critisisms of an alternative approaches like PMTS are somewhat weak, beacause, it seems, none of the critics have actually tried it on the hill with clients. I'm not here to rant on about this, but I would put forth a word of encouragement to move beyond simple critisisms and semantics and politics and to actually get out, experiement and see what happens on the hill with real clients.

OK....see ya,
post #7 of 12
Eski- Well put, I concur. To often people try to teach to a specific perfection with out letting people go to the extremes so they can feel the range of perfection.

I often tell canidates the difference between good skiers and great ones is the great ones just fake it better. Meaning the great skiers have a huge range of movements to pull from that keep them looking like they never lost it. Although I don't try to ski with counter rotation or a blocking pole plant or a stem entry etc.. etc.. These can be great moves at times and allows you to keep flowing down the mountain where others may struggle. We are only limited by our own imagination! I will keep experimenting!
post #8 of 12
I agree with Eski that experimentation should be a major part of what we ourselves do. I also think it should be a major part of the learning experience. Too often we steal the learning from our students by delivering the finished product all wrapped up in a package with a bow.

I would add another major piece that is often missing (and definitely absent with the lecture lesson format): QUESTIONS.

The questions should be asked honestly (i.e., not rhetorically) with sufficient time for the student to think, and the answers listened to intently. The answers will tell the teacher how to fashion the learning experience to THIS STUDENT.
post #9 of 12
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR> Hello!!! WHAT you teach IS important. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

I can't agree more, Arc!

Here's the issue, as I see it. I know VERY little about golf. If I paid for a golf lesson, I would certainly hope for an enjoyable experience. If I enjoyed the company of the pro and had a good time, I'd me more likely to take another lesson from him or her. I would KNOW if I had a good time. I would KNOW if I liked the pro, or if I enjoyed his/her jokes.

The one thing I would NOT know, and would therefore have to take on faith, is whether the specific golfing advice he professed was good advice or not! I would have to trust that the technical content of the lesson was accurate.

No matter how much fun I had, and how engaging the pro was personally, if I found out that he or she had taught me "bad golf," I would feel betrayed and I would be furious!

As instructors, yes, it is important that our students have a great time. But their NEEDS must be met. They trust, regardless of what else we do, that the technical content of what we teach them is accurate, contemporary, and relevant to their needs. They have no immediate way to verify this technical accuracy, so they are at our mercy.

Any instructor who consciously betrays that trust has committed a deplorable act, regardless of how much "fun" his students had and how much they like him. It is a sacred trust, and we must realize that. We must make a conscious effort to provide technically accurate lessons to the best of our ability. No shortcuts that lead only to mediocrity--unless our students know that's what we're doing and agree to it! And we owe them our continued diligence to improve our own knowledge, accuracy, and currency as well.

It is a complete breach of ethics for a professional instructor to do otherwise.

By-the-way--it is at LEAST as easy to have fun with GOOD movements as with BAD!

A related point: the traditional "sacred triad" of ski lessons is "Safety--Fun--Learning." Safety first, THEN fun, THEN learning. I can't agree with it! Any good lesson will include all three, with equal priority, in a blend tailored to the individual student's wants and needs. Like the basic skills of skiing, it isn't complete without a blend of all the elements.

Of course, there may be times when the student really isn't interested in "learning" anything--just wants a guide, or lift-line cutting privilege, or someone to talk to. That's fine. But IF the student wants some technical input or instruction, the instructor must deliver it. And if the instructor teaches something, it had better be accurate and valid, to the absolute best of the instructor's knowledge and ability!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #10 of 12
Eski – Well said. An educational experience for the student based on their stated perceived needs (which change as the lesson proceeds), keeping it as simple as the student can absorb (I always ask what their background is i.e. engineering, accountant etc.) with as many smile and miles as you can put into the lesson. (One of my continuing private lessons went to a major resort and made (3) runs in two hours!)

Unfortunately our lessons are one hour. Most of mine are booked privates, which I refuse to run less than an hour and half. Of course here in the Midwest the pay is the same no matter but that’s OK too. I wish we had the time,length of terrain and selection the destination resorts have but we don’t. I am sure they have other lesson problems we do not. In that hour or so we have to teach it is impossible, unless of course you want to confuse the student, to go on beyond more than a couple of things to change, improve, and or modify for your student. After all is said you become creative finding different ways to do the same thing trying to engrain the student with new habits and feelings. I always try and give my students simple little things they can practice and keys that allow them to coach their selves after the lesson is over. A package they can take along with a terrain warning so they don’t ski the wrong terrain allowing them to return to their bad habits. I also ask them to have fun and not to over practice. Skiing is about miles and smiles and while I want them to return with new skills for their next lesson I also want them to enjoy their skiing.

Mr. Barnes I agree any instructor not giving students their needs as current as we understand is deplorable. However I believe too many times instructors I am associated with and or hear about from my students bore the student to death with too much when a little would work just as well. It is my desire for all instructors to understand the student and to make it fun for them. I do not assume each student only wants to be recreational skier to start with; that would be to prejudge the student and set them and me up for failure. However statistics say they are in the Midwest, area owners and operators say they are, and so do the students. Personally I tell my students I will get as technical and complicated as you want but I will also keep it as simple as possible so they understand their lesson an hour or two or weeks after the lesson is over. I will give you things you can take with you and have fun with later. The general reaction I assure you is an audible sigh! I am sure destination lessons are quite different. Your students pay many dollars to be where they are and I would bet you possibly see the reverse. (It would be interesting to look at skier days versus lessons at a destination resort versus our little Midwest areas and the type of lessons taught. I bet SAMMY has those statistics.)

This whole conversation started when I became frustrated with the continual bickering of organizational and instructor elitism. So much so that some posts had to be removed from this forum. That becomes to me SO WHAT! We are concerned with the student and their return to lessons so they continue to enjoy the sport we are so passionate about and so our sport will grow and survive. Those are the reasons why I believe we must start looking to ourselves more. One-way is to market the fun of skiing, the fun of the wind and sun and the mountains. One way is to pay attention to those things and give them to our students ALONG with a good lesson! While we only have a small captive audience maybe together we can make it grow. We have the power to put FUN into the sport and we must use that power.

Off my soap box. Thanks for listening.

post #11 of 12
boy, some great stuff in this thread. I can't help but be impressed with the passion and thought associated with most of the above points.
I'm totally with arc on the product being important. We are not just entertainers, that is just one of the many hats we have to wear.
I'm also totally with floyd, who apparently wrote the piece that caused this thread. Different camps, smifferent camps. We should be student centered enough to get beyond some written dogma and give the skier what they need.
Of course, bob barnes makes good points. Lessons should be safety, fun and learning. If you give the student what they need, you have to know that it is technically sound and isn't leading the student down a dead end street. That is where all the technical garbledygook that we studied to get our certs comes in. With solid biomechanical and technical knowledge the instructor can be more versatile and creative in serving the students needs.
I'm definitly with eski. experimenting with new ideas and not being defensive of different ideas leads to breakthroughs and expanded knowledge. We shouldn't ignore something because it comes from a different school of thought. We should try it, experiment with it. Find out who it works with and how to deliver it so we have a broader range of ideas to utilize.

Case in point; I teamed a clinic a couple of weeks ago with one time extreme film star Dan Egan. Dan is a fantastic skier with boundless energy, and he definitly pegs the fun meter (to use floyds phrase). He also had a presentation that went places I've never seen. Many of the high level psia org. could disagree with some of ideas he played with. He definitly didn't teach bb's "slow line fast" but Preached (literally preached, he was so ecstatically intense that he infected the group), "this is about freefall! freefall with occasional speed checks! Everything is good until you start thinking left and right! This is downhill skiing isn't it? While let's go downhill!" We were skiing steep skied out powder and I never would have used his technique or presentatiion, but you know what, the level 8-9's skied better. He got them out of there minds, down in the snow and charging. Did some his ideas have dead ends? Some overly tech people may think so, but I bet you their skiing can't hold a candle to Dan's. If the dead end isn't at his level, then few are likely to encounter it. Anyway, just an example of experimenting with new ideas and making it FUN.
So, I've piggybacked on some of the passionate opinions above, but maybe touched on a little new ground. Keep the passion, bears, we keep it up, maybe some day they'll pay us what we think we're worth (but that is another discussion.)

Cheers. Holiday
post #12 of 12
Didn't teach much this weekend (one lesson) but I'm guessing I talked to at least 40-50 people. Directing them to their classes, finding their private instructor, talking to them about what level they were, greeting them. Giving quick little tips, (put the down hill ski on first) Stopping to help people down on the slopes, getting the patrol for an injured skier and then just staying with them (me and a fellow instructor) until the patrol arrived.

I think I always did this and didn't really think about it until I got home tonight and read this thread.

I sure hope it just made our guest's visit to the mountain that much better. It doesn't take much and it sure feels good.

Guess that's part of the reason I got into being an instructor. It sure isn't for the money!
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