Guest Centered Teaching & Experience Centered Teaching

Horst Abraham, one of the pioneers of teaching method in PSIA, method once known as the American Teaching System, published an ariticle in the latest PSIA Rocky Mountain Newsletter, Instructor to Instuctor (p. 12). (go here for a pdf of the newsletter). He says the purpose of the article is to “review teaching systems from the beginning of snow-play to today, then add thoughts with which [he hopes] to spawn dialogue and continuous improvement and development in our industry.”

Without going into a long review of his review, I think he does what he intended in that regard. As I think I’ve said in earlier posts I started teaching in the late 70’s and have the good fortune to actually remember some of the stuff he’s talking about. Especially having started my teaching career in the Army, I know very well the “TELL” and “do as I do” teaching style. And sometimes the ghost (or the use) of this teaching style can still be an effective tool in some situations.

But regarding “Guest Centered Teaching” and “Experience Centered Teaching” here’s the start of my two cents to help Horst spawn dialoge and continuous improvement in our industry. As I have continued to strive to improve and enhance my own professionaism, GCT has been a corner stone in my development. Understanding the model and building my lessons upon it seems to have worked well for me. ECT looks to me like an extension of GCT, but the focus is more on the shared experience between the instructor and student.

I think the exciting part for me is the WHY that Horst talks about, “ECT requires the instructor to learn about the student’s perceived reality, perceptions, needs, fears, dreams, and hopes, all pieces of information not readily visible to the instructor, thus significantly changing the instructor’s role, as well as the collaborative role of instructor and student.” This means really getting into the understanding and perceptions of the student so that you can help him or her.

I’m still in the process of digesting what Horst is talking about, but I feel like GCT, even though it says “Guest Centered” is actually more of a global perspective involving the ski area management, ski school, ski instructor as a product view. ECT is more focused on the actual relationship between the student and the instructor. It is a more intimate relationship not necessarily based on the bottom line.

So if you’re really talking about learning to ski/snowboard I would rather be in an ECT situation. Can you imagine a high level trainer (examiner, accredited trainer) really trying to learn about your perspective and also you having the responsibilty to share your perspective so that you can really understand and get it? That to me sounds really great. But maybe there just isn’t time and so the more efficient method is GCT, which with an insincere teacher, just turns into lip service meant to improve somebody’s bottom line. Please let me know if your perception of this statement sounds too harsh.

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