Some Thoughts about Teaching
What I have learned from giving ski lessons
During my graduated studies I had the chance to take several teaching-related courses, from pedagogical seminars to theater and acting classes.
Definitively, the theater and acting classes made a huge difference in my way of standing in front of an audience and interacting with it. They triggered the pleasure of teaching!
Some graduated classes I took, and some conferences I have attended, have been the occasion to meet inspiring and outstanding teachers and speakers, which also contributed to my teaching skills.
It has been a continuous learning process that allowed me to tune my courses and motivated to explore different teaching methods.
During the winter season 2010/2011 I have accomplished the first degree of ski instructor of SwissSnowSports, and made an experience of 30 days of ski teaching in a Swiss ski resort. Is has been so interested that during the 2014 winter season I took what I might call a sabbatical leave to work as a ski instructor. I have been enthralled by the methodological books I had to study to pass the theoretical exams and fascinated by how the teaching of a physical activity could benefit of a complete and interesting methodology. What most captured my attention is the so called “pedagogical dialogue”, that can be schematized by the diagram below.
The idea is quite simple: Every person has different learning skills and the teacher has to iteratively adapt his teaching approach to find the most efficient way to provide the information to the learner. Such adaptation is done based on the (direct or indirect) feedback from the learner.
When I have started re-thinking of the ex-cattedra lecture I was giving, I have realized that there was nothing more obvious and yet so difficult to implement than such a dialogue. Not only classes might be relatively big, but students are simply not used to such individual interaction, building their own learning barriers! Nevertheless, I now put all my efforts in implementing such a dialogue and in individually interacting with each student.It is very demanding but the results are just amazing!
The famous Einstein quote states “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
I would humbly add that if your teaching approach works well for a bird, when applied to a fish, the latter will not understand a bit and it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.
Now replace the bird and the fish with students of different characters, different learning skills, different personal situations, different cultures, and you might understand how important it is to individually adapt your teaching approach.