PSIA did a National Teaching Seminar at Smuggler's Notch and Stowe some time ago that I participated in as a planner. We deliberately did it off snow, during the first weekend of September. We did the AAR Plan with four different activities, Ropes Course, Canoeing, Roller Blading, and Mountain Biking. Our clinicians and support staff were all master teachers: Johanna Hall, Memer Blakeslee, Horst Abraham, Dave Merriam, Peter Engvoldstadt, and Jerry Warren. We'd do the activity, then immediately afterward we'd get into our small groups and do a quick "hot wash" of our immediate impressions and findings. Then that afternoon before dinner we would get back together in the large group with a facilitator and a flipchart and do a "cold wash" review to set down what we learned in terms of what we took away from the experience that we wanted to recreate in our own practice (transferable teaching principles). At the end of the four days we had a working lunch where we papered the walls with all the flipcharts from the week and tried to distill them down to Key Teaching Principles.
During that final cold wash a guy in the group stood up and had only one word to say: "Buzzkill!" This clearly was not his idea of a teaching clinic. We can only speculate about what he wished he'd received from that experience, but I suspect it was what Skidude72 is describing as pedagogy. Everyone else gave excellent reviews, wanted to know where to sign up for the next one, and were disappointed that we never ran the course again. To my knowledge no one else has ever tried to run a national ski instructor clinic out of season, off the snow, again. Yet for the vast majority of participants in the National Teaching Seminar, it was a huge success and an experience they'll never forget. Unfortunately, there don't appear to be enough instructors interested in attending that kind of clinic. As my mentor Jim Weiss might say, "They just want to go zig-zag."
To Skidude72, who says that AAR just doesn't scan when applied to ski instruction, I have to scratch my bleeding head: are not ski schools learning organizations too? If not, couldn't they become learning organizations? If indeed the best teachers are the best learners, as I so often hear, then shouldn't the best ski schools be awesome learning organizations?
Edited by nolo - 4/27/10 at 10:16am