or Connect
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Dazed and Confused

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 

I'm very bored so I'm going to post something from the past. This is the body of a letter that I wrote to one of my supervisors a few years back. I once posted it on the PSIA web site but I have never had non pros reactions to the idea so I thought I would post it here.

The first thing that I want to talk about sounds a little strange. I want to confuse my students. I want to confuse them because only by causing confusion can I then get them to go "Ohhh!!!!". That's an oh with a rising inflection and a widening of the eyes followed by the best turns of the students life. Its also followed by a permanent change in the way the student thinks about skiing and with any luck future requests for more lessons.

Now, about this confusion. It has to do with the learning process. A student can truly learn only if they are first willing to take a look at the subject to be taught with a fresh outlook. Only then can you make a change in them (whether its a change in movement patterns, thought patterns or attitude isn't important) and this change is the essence of learning. If a student hears the same things in a lesson that they have heard before then not only will they not learn anything but they will probably soon stop taking lessons because they aren't learning.

Isn't this problem of lesson drop-out something that PSIA is always talking about and saying we have to solve if our portion of the ski business is to flourish in the future. Yet, what most instructors schooled in the PSIA methodology do is to try to teach more and better of the same things (usually pressure, as in shift your weight earlier; and edge, as in tip the ski up more and earlier) as the student progresses through a series of rather set in stone levels until they hit a plateau and either; a, quit skiing b, quit taking lessons or c, have the good luck to take a lesson from a teacher who will challenge their conventional thinking about skiing confuse them if you will.

I read what I have written and I think that it communicates what I want to say. I want to keep these things short both for my sake and yours (never longer than a page) and it is getting late and I have to be at the ski school in the morning to confuse a couple more students so I'll just thank you for your time and say good-by.

post #2 of 22
Can you give us an example?
I immediately thought of overexageration(sp)of the distance between skiis and then trying to ski with boots glued together. Guided discovery then will lead to a stance in the middle.
Or having the students skate and glide, then see if they can ski on the uphill ski only.
Or am I just not getting it?
post #3 of 22
Thread Starter 

Those are two ways to create confusion. The confusion I want to create does what these two examples do. It causes the student to question how they have always thought about skiing and then leaves them open to trying something new. Telling my students that in the lesson we are about to have we will just let edging and pressure shifts take care of them selves while we look at other aspects of skiing also causes confusion because it goes aginst the students expectations.

post #4 of 22
The key to teaching is not to have your own agenda. And confusing the student certainly qualifies. There are more effective ways to teach.

The first thing that you must do is determine what the student's need and expectations are. If you don't meet the expectations, you have failed, the student is unhappy. An exapmle:
T: "What do you want to learn today?"
T: "Why are you taking this lesson?"
And there are many more. Suppose the student wants to ski steeps. During you ski-off, the student can barely make a good medium radius turn. Then it is up to you to get the student to the skill level required, through movement and understanding. If the student understands the movements required and can perform them on easy terrain, then the student can be introduced to more challenging terrain. By verifying with the student that you are on the way to satisfying the students needs, you will be successful. Confusing them is counter productive.
post #5 of 22
I think if a student has bought a lesson, they are already confused enough. Especially first-timers. It is our job to get the "OOOOOOOOOOOH" from student without the "set-up". Sometimes through repetition, sometimes through Visual cues, sometimes through simple language, sometimes through complicated language. Depends on your student! My take on your letter, insightful as it is, is that you are probably taking a step backwards more often than not. It is a huge risk you take by putting students further into unfamiliar territory before popping enlightenment on them. I say keep your students informed and comfortable... THAT is when learning can take place.

(I may be mis-reading your deal here, Ydnar. I certainly don't know it all, just my 2 cents.)

Spag :
post #6 of 22
Which causes someone to acutaly take action.

status quoe

Skiing is a medaphore for life right? if this is true it is confusion that most often drives people to look for an answer. Not kowing and knowing that you don't understand is a powerful tool It identifies that someone wants to learn. Presents the teacher an obvious oportunity to imput propler information. However just as important as any other learning tool.

THe lesson here once again balance in all things is what makes life (skiing teaching etc) works best.
post #7 of 22
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Rick H:
The key to teaching is not to have your own agenda. And confusing the student certainly qualifies. There are more effective ways to teach.

NO KIDDING!!!...ahem...I concur, RickH
post #8 of 22
Thread Starter 

Don't think of it as an agenda, just look at it as a teaching style.

Whenever I talk about teaching I always assume that the relationship aspect of the lesson is on solid ground. I've been doing this for a long time and don't really worry about that part of the lesson.

Confusion can pique the students cruiosity and make the solution clearing up the confusion more real to the student. A student emerging from confusion to undrestanding has better "ownership" of their new knowledge.


Most students in ski lessons never even become aware that "OOOOOOOH" is even an option. A ski lesson is where you will engage in a few exercises and hear the instructor repeat the same things that you have heard and read about before. Same old, same old.
But here is some madman claiming that a "weight shift" isn't necessary and that edging will happen without your doing anything to edge your skis. Better pay attention to this even if its just so I know what I am complaining about later.

Strangely enough, I don't experience any steps back when doing this. One of the reasons that I bring it up is that it is one of the most sucessful things that I do when I teach. In twelve seasons teaching over 300 lessons per season I can think of only four lesson complaints that have been brought to my attention and none of them came from this idea of confusing my students.

My observations are that less learning takes place if the students are "comfortable" than if they are "confused".

post #9 of 22
4 complaints????????
post #10 of 22
Ydnar. I see what you are saying. I also could see it as an effective approach in a certain type of lesson... Problem solving in particular. I just don't see it a a Pro-active approach. I don't question your ability or experience. In fact you and I have nearly the same experience. I disagree that less learning takes place when the student is comfortable. A student who feels safe and up to speed is MORE apt to take risks and MORE able to see the forest for the trees.

This isn't a "same-old, same-old" approach by any means. It requires the instructor to be innovative, tactical, motivational, and most of all INVOLVED. The instructor's job is to bring the lesson to the student and GIVE them ownership of movement patterns and philosophies... not to make them come and get them. Darwinism is fine in the terrain parks, not on the ski school yard.

The way to motivate people to stay interested in skiing is to share the information in the simplest most effective way you can. It's great that you have successes and your students are happy. Imagine what you could accomplish by stepping out of YOUR box and getting INVOLVED

I only say this because it was when I made the move toward pro-activeness in teaching that I began really having FUN. You're right about one thing Ydnar, the same ol' instructor grind lesson after lesson is a complete drag. And when I started empathizing with my students and figuring out what they wanted, I was able to make more break-throughs for them, have fewer troubles and have plenty of belly laughs for myself.

All I'm really saying is that the more of myself I bring to the lesson, the less of the student I have to peel away for them to be successful. I radiate my love for the sport and my knowledge of the turn while my students simply soak it all in and learn the gobblety-gook in ways that only they know how. (I know, a little too much ZEN, but what can I do. I'm just a ski instructor.)

Anyway, That's just one man's opinion and I hope you take it as such. you've opened my eyes to a strategy that I may need for a particular type of student some day. I hope I've shared something with you as well.

Spag's quote of the day:
"I once bought a house in the median of an interstate. The only problem was that by the time I got out of my parking lot I had to be doing 60..."
- Stephen Wright -
post #11 of 22
Thread Starter 

You're going to do a great job in your new position, you are obviously thoughtful, caring, open to new ideas and concerned for the student. Hope that the job is everything you want it to be.

To respond. I find it interesting on these forums that because I really enjoy "tech talk" and am willing to put forth some fairly out there ideas many others on the board think that when I go out to teach I have a personal agenda and so aren't involved with the student in the lesson. This couldn't be further from the truth. In a previous post I mentioned the relationship part of the lesson. What I am referring to there is the relationship that exists between the student/learner and the teacher/facilitator.
This includes but is not limited to determining what the students goals for the day/ski trip/lifetime ski experience/etc. are. The relationship thing is something that is on going and constantly developing and changing and forms the basis for the information that will be exchanged by the teacher and student (while at the same time this information is what forms the relationship). This relationship and information exchange can lead to participation in activities that lead to more info exchange and a deepening of the relationship. All this is tied together by decisions that we make about the what and where of the activites, the level of info that we exchange, just what kind of relationship we want to develop, in short the life of a ski lesson. By the way our ski school's teaching model is based on the RAID concept. That stands for Relationship, Activities, Information and Decisions.

As for fun that's why I'm still doing this after all these years. Every day of the season I get to go out and play my favorite games and do the things that I most love doing with a bunch of friends (some new friends some old friends)who want to do the same things I do. We laugh at and with each other. No matter how bad ski school politics might be I know I will have fun when I walk out the door for a lesson.

As to the Zen part of it if the students cup is full of tea then the teacher has no way to share his pot of tea. Sometimes it is necessary to upset the cup to create intrest in a new brew.

Fade out with eerie throat singing in the background,
post #12 of 22

Your comment that the "confusion is a teaching style" would have made it clearer to me. Having studied teaching styles (Mosston and Ashworth) all summer, I am pretty well versed in the topic. Confusion could be termed either guided discovery or convergent discovery. I suspect what you are doing is guided discovery. Convergent discovery has one outcome, with no "guiding" by the teacher. An example would be to tell the students, from the top of the run,"The task is to develop a cue for poleplants." You let them do the task. You can give them feedback, but don't enter into the game. Obviously, this would not work for lower level classes.

I think this is a good style, once I understood what you were doing.
post #13 of 22
Thread Starter 

I guess I could call it "Guided Confusion" do an article on it and get it published in TPS.

There is a teaching style/technique that someone called guided recovery. Its a lot like guided discovery but you don't set out with a "right answer" in mind. You set out to explore something like a new movement and see where that leads. You might expect things to follow a certain path but if they start down another you are able to go with them and see where that path leads. Also you can manipulate things down these different paths as your understanding of just what your student wants develops.

More later
post #14 of 22

What you describe is convergent discovery, which requires only one answer. Divergent discovery is where there are multiple outcomes. You, as a teacher, can set objectives for the class. This is a complete ownership by the class. All you have to do is sit back and learn. I think this is the most powerful of tools that we have. Some real breakthrough can be made, both for the students and you.

If you want more information on teaching styles, go to the library and pick up, "Teaching Physical Education", by Muska Mosston and Sara Ashcroft(1993) Or you can buy it from Amazon. There is a new version coming out next month and it is rather spendy at $60. The new version may be less. Also, there is quite a bit of information on the internet search engines.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ October 24, 2001 12:42 PM: Message edited 1 time, by Rick H ]</font>
post #15 of 22
So....the first response was on target....guided discovery.

Should I worry if I was on the same wave length as you?

As a public school teacher teaching computer software usage, when my students ask me a question, my response is "I don't answer questions, I only ask them". The students soon learn either 1 - how to phrase a question so that they get the answer on their own, and not through me. Or 2 - to follow my trail of questions until they say they can stand on their own two feet! [img]smile.gif[/img] [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #16 of 22
Please stop playing f---in' head games with me and tell me and show me what I need to do. Bring on the Austrian ski instructors!

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ October 26, 2001 08:50 AM: Message edited 1 time, by milesb ]</font>
post #17 of 22
Ydnar. Thank you for clearing up the "confusion" thing for me. I was mis-interpreting your jist. Thank you also for your compliment. We ought to get after each other more often!! [img]tongue.gif[/img]

"Guided Confusion" is an interesting term. I'll have to borrow it some day!!!

Gotta go play volleyball.
post #18 of 22
Thread Starter 

I can refer you to quite a few people who will tell you that you indeed need to worry if you are on the same wavelenght as me.

post #19 of 22
Why not deal in issues that create "clarity" in the skier/student's mind, so that new idea/s or technique/s can be quickly expressed in effective physical action ?
post #20 of 22

Right on milesb! I for one who might have just spent mega bucks to come to a first class ski resort to learn how to ski, DOESN'T want to spend the week being confused. I want to know what I need to know as soon and as fast as possible so that I can enjoy skiing, my hard earned vacation, and life in general. If I got a pro that was telling me a bunch of crap that didn't ring a bell in my mind, I'd be looking for a new pro, pronto!

And Wink, >>Why not deal in issues that create "clarity" in the skier/student's mind, so that new idea/s or technique/s can be quickly expressed in effective physical action ?<< Yeah, your the kind of pro I'd take a lesson from. --------Wigs
post #21 of 22
Thread Starter 
Wink, Wigs,

I thought this was thread was dead. When Rick idenified what I was doing as a teaching style that is recognized in the literature of the education establishment I figured that no one else would rise to the bait of the loaded word "confusion". Both of you react to that word in a very negative way, that being"How can anyone effectively learn anthing if you 'confuse' them. The answer is easy, I excite their curiosity and the learning pretty much takes care of itself after that. Maybe you would have reacted less strongly if I would have said that I use the structured experience phase of the Experiental Teaching Cycle to open my students mind to learning.
But I'm a simple man and to me that's just controlled confusion (hey Spag, there's another nifty term).

As to guests not wanting a instructor who confuses them. I think that they want someone who will help them have more fun on their vacation and if a little confusion leads to more fun they're up for it. In fact if you're real good you can make the being confused and the subsequent learning fun. So much fun that the guests just keep asking to come back and be confused some more.

I'm just glad that I have a supervisor that is open minded and to whom I can take some "out of the box" ideas and have them looked at seriously and not dismissed as a "load of crap". Although having grown up on a farm I know a lot of good can come from a manure pile.

post #22 of 22

>>As to guests not wanting a instructor who confuses them. I think that they want someone who will help them have more fun on their vacation and if a little confusion leads to more fun they're up for it<<

I can go along with that. But what I was getting out of the original post was that the goal was to go out and confuse the guest. A little confusion is okay, in my book, and it is fun. And for the guest to be having fun throughout the learning experience is a priority, I believe. Having a guest, or a number of guest standing there with a very lost look in their eyes for the whole day is not healthy, IMHO.

But please, YD, continue to experiment with this approach and keep us, me posted on how it turns out. I'm just not sure I would want to experiment with it, 'cuz I gotta eat. ---------Wigs
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Ski Instruction & Coaching