Sunday, December 23, 2007

Learning Outdoor Skills

I'm a full time teacher but not of outdoor skills. There are a few things that come to mind that would be of relevance to teaching and learning outdoor skills.

Teaching anything without a context (i.e. a situation and place to use it) is pretty pointless. This shouldn't be a great problem with bushcraft skills yet more stories and anecdotes usually help people relax and fix things into their mind.

Mistakes and Errors
The idea here is that a mistake is something that you should be able to correct yourself - you know what to do and just didn't get it right. As far as teaching goes these are useful to revise knowledge. Far more useful are errors, these occur when a student gets something wrong whilst trying something they don't really know how to do yet. This provides a great and memorable opportunity to teach something as the necessity and context are already in place and the student's motivation to learn at this point should be high.

Task Based
The idea of task based learning is to make students try to accomplish a given task. It is not a form of testing but a situation where a teacher should be more of an observer. A teacher should only come to the fore when the students' lack knowledge or there is a good opportunity to teach something.

For mental skills experts disagree, somewhere between 5 and 10 occasions learning is a pretty common figure though.
For physical skills to become automatic it is more complicated and to be fair beyond my expertise. I do remember a slogan from an old kick-boxing training manual that stated that "another 1000" would be a good motto for any student as the author felt that this was a minimum number of repetitions for an action to become rapid and automatic.

Hope this is all useful to some of you out there.