Nordic Ski Instructor

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Teaching skiing

Teaching: [ role | ethics | styles | alternatives | terminology | preparations | lessons ]

Alternative approaches

The traditional approach of 'demonstration, practice, and correction' is often time-consuming and can be humiliating for the nervous students. Two demonstrations by the instructor of a technique may not be enough for some students, especially if they must wait their turn and have their try after nine other (poorer) examples. Maximum activity is essential, but this must be balanced with the desire of every student to have some form of comment made about their attempts. By placing students in a line and watching them individually, the instructor has plenty of activity to pass judgement on, but often at the detriment of that individual.

It is natural for someone attempting a complex skill for the first time to make a few errors of judgement, and unfortunately it will be visible for the instructor and other students to see. The pressure created by having to parade one's skill is hard enough, but the criticism from the instructor can be much worse, especially on a first attempt.

In the following chapter you will note the lack of reference to fault-finding, or fault correction. Although there are some students who assess their instructor's competence by the number of faults found in the student's technique, an attempt has been made here to shift the focus onto individual skill improvement. Certainly there are those students that cry 'What am I doing wrong?' when learning to ski, but do they really want to know what they are doing wrong, or do they want to know how to do better? Even instructors fall foul of this trap when discussing teaching approaches, and probably more so.

A good instructor is not someone who can accurately assess two thousand incorrect ways of doing something and knowing how to 'solve the problem', although knowledge of efficient and inefficient ways of performing a skill can guide them. Learning a new skill takes time, and the student must be free to experiment with variations in movement. An instructor can either step in and restrict that movement by dictating exactly how far an arm should swing, for example, or can allow a certain freedom of movement before taking action. Taking this method to an extreme would be to have no intervention whatsoever, and allow the student to learn by themselves. Either extreme has its pitfalls.

Dictating exactly how something is to be performed fails to take into account an individual's ability to mimic that skill, given that we all have a completely different set of physical and mental limitations. And who is to say that one interpretation of a technique is any better or more efficient than any other, given the huge variety exhibited in human body shape and size, not to mention fitness? It is not too difficult though for an instructor to suggest to the student ways of improving upon a particular element, and thus building on the good points, rather than highlighting weak points.

Teaching: [ role | ethics | styles | alternatives | terminology | preparations | lessons ]

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[ Contents | Preface | Organisation | Teaching | Techniques | Equipment | Resources | Appendices | Glossary | Index ]