Sunday, January 21, 2007

Kinesthetic Memory

I spent the past week at Big Sky Montana learning how to snowboard. I had taken lessons a few years ago before I got sick. Sadly, I had not gotten back on the mountain after those lessons.

After a day spent acclimating to the height (7500 ft up), I scheduled some lessons. Knowing I'm a klutz - I figured I'd spend a large portion of the trip nursing injuries.

Fortunately, I discovered some kinethetic memory that I didn't know I had. The good news, I can manage to get down the hill without getting myself killed. The bad news - during the lessons I intimidated a woman out of our 2 person class.

I had warned her that I had taken lessons before and never practiced.

Still - she saw that I could balance and get through the exercises unscathed. She found this intimidating and quit after 30 minutes. I felt pretty bad about this. By the same token - this was a huge lesson.

Students are intimidated if there is a person in the class who is obviously more skilled than they are. Even more so if the teacher obviously would prefer to work with this person.

This is not done on purpose. I find that as a teacher, it is natural to want to work with someone who seems to be able to get up to your level. It is also naturally frustrating to work with someone who just doesn't seem to "get it."

To the credit of the ski instructors at Big Sky resort - they worked very hard to make everyone feel competent. Still - as educators - we have to work hard to get our students past that point of "incompetence".

1 comment:

Karyn Romeis said...

My heart totally understands your feelings of guilt. My head says that the woman needs to take ownership of her own reactions.

That said, it sounds to me as if the pair of you were mis-matched for your shared lesson. This would indicate to me that the instructors were at fault. In an environment where people are going to be exposing their strengths and weaknesses to each other, it makes sense to create groups of similar levels. Taking prior learning into account is a vital part of that.

... or that's what I think, anyway.