Monday, September 22, 2008

The teacher, the student, the teacher's teacher and the student's student...

Nope, no punchline!  Just a few thoughts about how each of us is both student and teacher.  

Last month, I went with Susan to see a Level 2 Western Coach.  I was there to babysit the little feller, who was just shy of his first birthday.  In between stroller walks and biscuits, and pointing his chubby fingers at the horses in the pasture, I got to catch a few pieces of information.  "Spyder" and I sat on a lawn chair in the barn, where he could sit on my knee and watch his mommy wrap a horse's leg in a very complicated knee bandage.  

I had to think about this little ladder of knowledge.  I'm a Level 3 Rider.  I get my lessons from Susan, a Level 1 Coach.  She in turn gets her lessons from Maggie, a Level 2 Coach.  

I need to reach Level 4 Rider, then take my exam, to become an Instructor.  After that, I have the option to study what's called a General Component, which will qualify me for another exam, after which I'll be a Level 1 Coach as well.  (This might take a few more years!)

Susan's at the point where she's sort of eyeballing the Level 2 Coach thing and thinking she might go for it one of these years.  She didn't need the General Component in 1999.  It's a course of study that makes sure the coach has a broad knowledge of western riding disciplines, such as reining, equitation, and barrel racing.  There's also a more intensive look at stable management and first aid, which is why Susan was learning all kinds of obscure leg bandaging techniques. 

It was quite odd to see my own teacher being taught.  

It was reassuring.  

She's not only a good teacher; she's a good student too.  She asked questions, made mistakes, and kept trying.

I try to be a good student, but I am so aware that I'm a slow learner.  I have a hard time getting the lessons through my ears and brain and into my hands and legs.  I have to do things wrong several times before I get it right.  Even if I understand the concept, or at least think I do, it takes a lot of physical work to really accomplish the goal.  It doesn't matter how much I love horses; this riding lesson thing is very hard work.

After Susan's session with Maggie, she had a lot of ideas for coaching me.  I'm one of her most advanced students.  She's throwing it at me hard, teaching me stuff I won't even need to know for my Level 4 test.  I will be very prepared when the time comes.

But the most interesting part has been my own teaching style.  I can't even name the specific difference, but I feel like I've gotten some benefit from that afternoon.  Maybe it's confidence from seeing firsthand that we are all teachers and students.  I still get my left and right confused during lessons, but I feel like my students can trust me more.  Is it authority?  Does it come from knowing that we're all learning here?  Because I can tell you this: when I'm teaching a riding lesson, I definitely feel like I'm learning from my students!

I didn't always do well in school.  But I loved learning.  This learning process has been so incredibly rewarding.  I love knowing that I've got a whole lifetime ahead to learn more!


JKB said...

You know, I did a certificate at the Kentucky Horse Park, and besides for the coolness of being at the KHP, learning the grooming bits *such as wrapping, brushing, etc* and that is one of the nicest, most stabile bits of being around the horses.

It sounds very cool...I had no idea becoming a riding coach there in CA was so...lengthy!

Heidi the Hick said...

Yeah, I didn't know either until I started on this journey! Actually, I considered it about ten years ago, but my kids were babies and I just couldn't swing it then. Of course, there are twice as many requirements now.

I know lots of riding instructors who don't hold any certificates or anything, just experience and a willingness to teach. I decided to go through Ontario Equestrian Federation because I wanted to fill in the gaps in my learning, but also for the proof that I know what I'm doing.

However, I'd have to agree... grooming horses is so grounding, and relaxing. It doesn't feel like work to me. It feels like a reward!

Heidi said...

very cool post! what a long process!

I'm right/left dyslexic too! I gotta hold up my hand in and L position to find out which is which!

I think it's so cool you love learning. That is so much more important than how fast you learn!

Heidi the Hick said...

Yeah well, I'm stubborn enough to overcome any slow learning problems!

...and I do that left hand L thing too!

coffeypot said...

A truly smart person will learn from their underlings, their superiors, their kids, their friends and from strangers. When you get to the point that you know it all, you are already behind.

Angel said...

Its fun to watch lessons isn't it!? It feels encouraging.And it may interest you to know my instructors make silly mistakes too!

hayseed said...

Heidi! I'm not "directional" either, I mean I know my left from my right, but during riding lessons, I would easily get confused, or not remember which way I had just gone. It took me a long time to learn to "tack up", too. And you're absolutely right. The teacher is the student and the student is the teacher. And the lesson? Be humble. I'm still learning.

CindyDianne said...

There is ALWAYS some one that knows more than you. And there is ALWAYS someone that knows more than them.

That is very comforting.

pseudosu said...

I think we're a lot alike.
I too sucked at school, and dropped out of college. But in high school i skipped some classes to go others i liked (like russia studies) (?) but wasn't enrolled in. (grades schmades)

I love being a student-- of anything i'm actually into. I'll tell you one thing-- these drum lessons are definitely making me use my brain a new way-- hand-eye-brain-foot coordination!

Olly said...

It really is amazing how easy it is to follow something we are interested in. On the flip side. I can't, for the life of me, follow something I'm not interested in ei: commercials on tv, action movies, etc. It's like the blue screen of commercial advance appears and I zone out.

This seems to be a huge talent for you. Follow it!!!