I am just in from four hours in the field where I have been huddled around the tip of my cigarette trying to keep warm as well as instruct. It’s not even that cold yet! Wait until next week, they have even mentioned the S word on the long-range weather forecasts.
Anyway, I’m not here to discuss the weather. I have been seeing a lot of stuff recently about how we instructors should take into account how the pupil learns. Some, apparently (and I’m no expert) like to see and do, some like to hear and do, some like to feel and do, some even prefer to read and do. I, as your instructor for the day, am supposed to pick up on little things like ‘ah, I see what you mean’ or ‘I hear what you’re saying’ and pitch my lesson accordingly. All honky dory you might think.
Now, we get to the point. I haven’t always been an instructor, in fact up until a couple of years ago I have been the instructed, and, never once have I felt that the instructor has altered his natural teaching method to suite my particular style of learning, whatever that is. So, is this psychological profiling of a students natural learning style just pretentious pseudo bollox or is there something in it? All instructors are different but very few of them are psychologists. I would suggest that most of us have a teaching style we have developed from experience and from what we see and hear from other instructors, a bit like our casting styles in fact. A picknmix we cobble together over a period of time to suite our taste and personality. Perhaps a tool box is a better analogy. The more tools we have the more choice we have of picking the right tool for the job. All instructors have been in the situation where they are not making any progress with someone and have had to change tack. Is this profiling…or desperation. No. Desperation sets in a bit later when you are rummaging about in the bottom of the tool box and not finding the tool you want. Before desperation comes guess-work, with experience this becomes educated guess-work. Now, this is me. As I said before, I have never noticed anyone instructing me rummaging around in their tool box to find the right tool. This is not to say they haven’t though because I would hope my students don’t spot the desperation in my eyes as I mentally dig around my tool box.
My particular learning style? I’m a dyslexic poet.
That went well, thank goodness. My only real experience of a group of dedicated fly casting instructors is the annual Sexyloops get together and at those I have always been impressed by the free flow of information. Imagine my growing pleasure at finding the same enthusiasm at the GAIA meeting in Caer Beris last weekend. Hog Heaven.
I am glad I made the effort to get up at 3am to drive over 250 miles. It meant I was there in time for a cup of coffee before I could enjoy the workshop given by Leslie Holmes and Mark Roberts on presentation casts. Just the tips I learned in that workshop alone made the trip worth while.
My workshop on distance casting seemed to be well received. I was in a bit of a quandary as to how I should present it but luckily I was sensible enough to have made a few notes to refer to when things got a bit sticky. I didn’t need to refer to them very often but I’m glad I made them. Once the introduction was over I worked my way through the cast and things fell naturally into place. And, actually, this was the most important lesson I learned over the weekend. Know your subject. I had no problem talking and demoing distance for an hour and a half. I could not have done Leslie and Marks workshops on presentation or the one Phil Maher did on the Five Essentials with anything like the authority they did.
I have bemoaned the fact that I do not have a FFF MCI who is easily available to me as I prepare to take my Masters. There were five of the buggers at Caer Beris. Each and every one offered to help me in my preparation. They may regret the offer.
If this had happened in a FFF environment it would have re enforced my opinion that all FFF instructors are nice guys, however, it happened in a GAIA environment so it must be that all casting instructors are nice guys. Out of the sixty instructors attending I didn’t see one example of ego. Everyone was free with their time and ready with an answer if asked a question.
I can only speak as I saw, and what I saw only impressed me.
I recently read that to really be good at something you need to put in about 10000 hours of practice. I have done a rough calculation and I have worked out I am about 2000 hours short of the mark. Those two thousand hours become apparent when I look at the gap between me and the true masters whose company I had the pleasure of being in over the weekend. The gap will need to be narrowed considerably between now and next May. My original intention was to take the assessment with the expectation that I would fail it but gain valuable experience for the next time. I just might revise that.
Thankyou GAIA for the invitation and your hospitality. And a special thanks to those that were so free with their time and encouragement.
I’m still here, I just haven’t had much to write about. In fact it has even been a chore joining in some online conversations. That’s one of the problems of being a bit of a loner, you get out of the loop and have a job getting back into it again. However, this weekend I will be fully immersed in casting stuff again so hopefully I will be back firing on all cylinders and thinking, and talking, casting bollox again. It may even open the flood gates to a veritable deluge of bollox for you to suffer.
Myself and Mike Marshall have been invited to by Gaia to represent the BFCC and give a couple of workshops at their get together in Wales. MM is doing tournament casting, the big stuff, and I will be doing one on full line distance casting, the less manly five and seven weight stuff. I have never done anything like it before, in fact I have never even attended a workshop before; so it could be very interesting….for all the wrong reasons! If anyone reading this is attending then please be kind. Mind you, they do have a choice between me and Frank Williams, who is giving another workshop at the same time. That’s a bit of a bummer actually because Frank and I have been trying to have a cast together for the last couple of years.
I also have another interest in the meeting, Roger the Dodger is taking his assessment tomorrow. I have just seen the weather forecast and it ain’t looking good. I hope to goodness they can find somewhere that is a bit sheltered from the wind. Rather him than me. A strong wind would be my worst nightmare. Good luck Rog.
I will let you know how Rog and I got on.