Monday, October 01, 2007

See one...

Do one...

Teach one...
It is an old saying from Med school, and it is some what tongue in cheek. (How else would one learn surgery?...but I digress). In reality, the learning/teaching process is as much art as it is science, and to teach can be one of the most rewarding of all endeavors.

This past weekend I had the opportunity to watch Sam Crowley and John Browning conduct an on water ICE...Instructor Certification Examination. I was already aware of the enormous amount of time these teachers had put into lesson plans on top of keeping current with their own skills. Through out the session they kept the candidates challenged, solving unexpected problems, and they kept them safe.

It is no mean feat to do this. Yet, they made it look easy, as if there were nothing to it. As if anyone could do it. Well, let me tell you, not every one can. In fact, most can't. I believe that to become a teacher one must above all want to teach. Seems axiomatic, doesn't it. Maybe so, but I occasionally see the student who "wants to be certified" for all sorts of reasons. They need it for a job (at a kayak store, e.g.), or ego, it is the "next" step. Some seek the affirmation of their skill level via certification while having no intention of teaching; and that seems okay to me. It is a way of assessing themselves and pointing out their weaknesses to be worked on in the future. Finally, there are those who want to make big bucks teaching others to paddle. Here, in the Midwest, where the season is short (for teaching, not paddling), that is a laugh. Besides, if I drive to Madison and get paid for a 6 hour course, I realize a windfall (after gas and taxes) of less than $15 for the day. So why do I do it?

Because I love to teach. I love to impart what I know onto others. I love to see someone "get it". I love to see someone succeed at something and to relish in their joy of doing so. Besides, teaching makes me a better paddler (as it made me a better physician). Students ask wonderful questions, and they are quick to sense when they are being snowed by someone who doesn't know their stuff. That's why ACA (and BCU) has such well defined criteria for their teachers.

If you want to do it right, you have to keep up your skills, know teaching techniques, know about the inevitable paper work, know about risk management and...above all...want to teach.

I remember not so long ago when I needed emergency back surgery. As I lay in the pre-op area, a young doctor came to the foot of my bed, stood there and smiled. After a while he said, "You don't remember me, do you?" I didn't, and he explained that he had taken a cardiology rotation with me during his years of training. He went on to say that he was now an anesthesiologist and, if was okay with me, he would be putting me under. First, I told him, I had a question. "Was I nice to you when you were a student?" He assured me I had been nice and added that I had also been an excellent teacher. I let him put me under...and he later woke me up.

At the end of the day, if you want to teach you are going to have to see a lot of it, do a lot of it and, finally and with supervision, carefully begin to teach.

Paddle safe...

DS

5 comments:

JohnB said...

And, congratulations to you for continuing your growth and becoming an Open Water Sea Kayak Instructor!!!

Well done!

Silbs said...

I appreciate that, JB. Especially as it comes from my teacher, mentor and friend. I've loved the hours I've spent being drilled by you on the fundamentals. I hope that I, like you, can have a positive influence on our sport.

Ron said...

Congratulations to you both!! I hope to paddle with you folks some day ... and some coffee afterwards!

Alex said...

congrats dick!

Silbs said...

Ron, come paddle with us. JB knows where all the good coffee is in town. Hell, he is on Juan Valdez's Christmas list :)

Thanks Alex. All comes to he who waits...including senility :)