Sunday, August 24, 2008

That Armed Schoolteacher

Don Gwinn is having a blast at Blackwater!

I'm especially taken by his analysis of Todd Jarrett's teaching skills. Coming from a professional educator, it counts as expert testimony -- and I am reminded of the methods used by Motorcycle Safety Foundation instructors: keep things moving, lot of hands-on time and immediate feedback, achievable goals for each student in each stage, etc. This kind of thing really only works with highly-motivated pupils; one stick-in-the-mud can foul up the pace.* But when it works, there's no better way to learn!
* Observation: in both MSF classes I took, there was one student who was simply inept. One withdrew, vowing to aquire better basic skills and take the class again; the other dogged it through and passed. Both were enthusiastic and despite having no gift for the material, neither slowed up class. Yes, there really are situations where giving a darn beats talent, probably a lot more often than we'd like to believe.


staghounds said...

I love teaching, academic is fun but athletic more so. And I'd rather have high desire with ordinary ability than gifted abilities and no effort in a student.

Don said...

Every time. The limits of ordinary ability are far above what most people with great talent will ever reach. It just takes too much enthusiasm and doggedness to get there, so most people never see it.

Joe Allen said...

Drive and dogged determination can exceed talent any day: I'm living proof of that.

I am immensely talented at music. No bragging there, it's no virtue. It's a gift, and one I've squandered. I can play about any instrument in a half-assed fashion within hours of picking it up. I never, ever, practice and I can generally hack out relatively complicated fast passages with just a little warm up.

I coast along on an undeserved helping of God given talent. Yet, I know lots of musicians that are one step from tone deaf but they want it; so they practice for hours a day. Consequently they can play circles around me.

Conversely, I have no innate talent for shooting. And that's why I love it so much, every bit of ability I have is hard won, and if I go a few weeks without shooting, you'd think I didn't know which end of the gun the fire comes out of. With diligent practice, I can generally stay in the top half of most of the leagues I shoot in, and I'm probably prouder of that achievement than any other.


Adrian K said...

What's the point of having talent if you don't give enough of a darn to do it right, anyway?

Don said...

Tragically, I am so far past tone-deaf that it's really not worth going back to tone-deaf at this point, even though I'm pretty sure I left my gloves back there.

Roberta X said...

You're probably going to want those gloves.