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Kids

March 20, 2010

“Teaching of others teacheth the teacher.” 

                    ~Anwar Fuller

Geez. I just checked my last post and I noticed it has been over a month. Yipes! Sorry to my readers. I’ve been too busy carousing, skiing, and having various adventures. But I feel my time coming to a quick close here in this dream-like reality. The call of the real world needs to be answered at some point, and I won’t have anymore excuses not to write. So I’d better start getting back to it…

So recently I’ve been teaching kids ski school here at Telluride. I started teaching adults, but due to the overbooking of children over spring break they’ve pulled me over to the children’s side. It’s been an interesting ride, and through the process I’ve learned so much more about children, teaching, and above all else patience.

So what is the difference between teaching kids and adults? Well to begin with adults can put on their own mittens and helmets. With adults most of your students are there because they want to be there. They want to be better skiers and listen to your expertise to become better. Kids are usually placed in ski school because their parents want a day off to ski. They spend the majority of the day crying about how cold they are and continually count down the hours until their parents pick them up. With adults you can describe skiing on a mental plane. When instructing an adult I’ll teach them that leaning back-and-in causes their weight to be centered over their inside ski, therefore taking away their ability to carve a turn. Teaching a kid that same lesson I’ll have them “squash bugs” to get their weight on the outside ski, and have them reach their arms out to make “super girl/boy” turns to put their weight forward. Simply put kids learn through play and not by description. 

But I’m not the only one giving lessons these days, my kids have also been teaching me. I consider myself a patient person, but children have really tested me in that category. For example: the other day I helped my friend out by covering her class. It was a class of local kids learning how to ski, so they all knew each other, and all knew the rituals of the class. As soon as they saw me appear I could sense the mischief building inside their little minds.

“Chris can we ride the chairlift by ourselves?” Me frustrated with trying to find adults to ride with my other munchkins, “Sure. Go ahead.” Riding behind them I could hear their screams of glee proclaiming, “We’re riding without the bar!!!” It wasn’t until two days later I discovered that A) Kids should never ride the chairlift by themselves and B) Kids should always have the bar down.

 • I want to take this time right now to offer a sincere apology to all of the substitute teachers I took advantage of in my life. I now feel your pain. •

The lesson learned was that you should never trust kids. No wait, that’s not it. The lesson being, don’t be afraid to step up and show some authority. After talking to some other instructors I learned some tips on how to wrangle kids, get them to listen, and above all else teach them discipline. Because to me that’s the coolest thing about teaching kids- assisting in helping them grow and become better people. The cornerstone of the Telluride children’s ski school is the CAP model (Cognitive, Affective, and Physical). In a nutshell, it says that instructing kids isn’t just about teaching them the art of skiing, it’s about being a coach in the development of their own identities (helping build moral values, developing their cognitive skills, and helping them discover their physical abilities). Teaching a kid to make a wedge is easy. Teaching a kid how to function in a group, follow the rules, and treat their peers with respect and kindness- now that is the challenge. 

But the truth is I’ve learned that teaching a kid to be good really isn’t that challenging. I’ve always believed that people are generally born as good souls. They are later shaped and molded by their surroundings, but in general I truly think that all people want to do what’s right. But it’s up to parents and teachers to show them the way. The other day I had a students “cut” in line while we were making turns down the mountain. The cuttee yelled at the cutter, then complained about it to me. I pulled the class aside and reminded them that we were all a team, and that we’re still learning to control our speed and that above all else we should help and support each other. Not but three turns later the same thing happened. A child cut another child and they yelled at each other. But this time another student reminded the yeller that they were a team, and to be nice to each other. I couldn’t help but smile. 

Teaching kids gives me faith in the world. They are inherently kind and possess a wisdom and imagination many adults have long since forgotten. They are incredible and interesting little sponges, and with the right teaching and parenting the sky is the limit. I think this emphasizes how truly essential the role of the teacher is in our society. Not only for a child’s well-being, but for the survival of a virtuous world in the future.

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