An amazing lessonThis is leading off from my previous topic (rant!) about the teaching of upper/lower body separation as a first resort.
On Monday, I was allocated to teach a large group of level "5" adults, with one of our young Canadian instructors. The idea is that we ski them, and then split the group into 2, we usually do this and it works well.
On this day, we had 10 people. They were doing various versions of wobbly/jerky parallels and wedges on blue terrain, with the usual upper-body led turns, shaky balance, you know the picture. They weren't really 5's, in the true sense of the level.
Canadian threw to me for the first exercise, after we'd skiied a run as warm up. It was filthy weather, gales and a blizzard going, and quite a bit of fresh laying around (cold day, less talking!). I gave a quick overview of how you ski this stuff, and explained how balance was the key to skiing and that we'd work on that to start with. Asked them to focus on feeling certain things while we did some turns, and then we'd go into some exercises. Off we went.
When we stopped, Canadian boy bustled up and took over, annoucing that we were going to work on our pole plants! I'm sure most of you know the effect this had on the group.
So we did that. Then, he got them to put the uphill pole across and balanced on the other wrist, while tapping the downhill pole while skiing along. They were confused by this (and getting quite cold). Next, they were to ski with both poles balanced on their wrists. Next, Canadian drew a line down the hill, and wanted them to do short turns across it. 4 of them fell, one of them fell twice.
Then, he told them how you ski fresh snow: you ski with your legs together. to facilitate this, he got them to take off one glove, clamp it between their upper thighs, and ski down the run. I went last, collecting gloves from the snow.
Last, he took them down a steepish run that was shin-deep in wet, fresh snow. Most of them fell. I had to talk one lady down who was proposing to remove her skis.
What did I think was wrong with his approach? First, he didn't ask the group what they wanted to do, or work on, he just launched straight into it. Then, he assumed they were Level 5s, and even after seeing them ski, he didn't match the lesson to their actual ability.
He seemed quite nonplussed by my attempting to start with balance, from the feet up, and teaching pole plants on the first day in a blizzard seemed to me like trying to walk on nails.
He imparted a lot of amazingly wrong info, the clamped legs being just one instance.
And finally, he gave them tasks and terrain way beyond their ability, and scared several of them. He's probably never felt fear when skiing, and didn't seem to pick up on it in members of the group.
We get our groups for the whole week here, and by day 2 many were getting very restive. They wanted 2 smaller groups, rather than our big one, and when I said that we'd probably have a gung-ho group, and a more technical, careful group, and that I'd probably be teaching the latter, they seized on that and became quite assertive!
On day 3, they bailed Canadian up early, and demanded a split. So he announced it....and 7 people determindly moved to where I was. Of the 3 left near the Canadian, 2 of them were most annoyed as they'd plied me with beer the night before and had intended to join my group.
I later inherited some extras, as various spouses decided to join the group. It looked a bit odd, me with a huge group and he with a tiny one.
But you know, lessons like the above are proably being given all over the world, every day.
it's depressing to think of it sometimes, but the cure is to get out there and teach some more people to love skiing more!