Here there be dragons...

"I'm telling you stories. Trust me." - Winterson

To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle, requires creative imagination and marks a real advance. -- Einstein

Whoever says there are no stupid questions has never had to answer them with a straight face.  There are stupid questions.  Lots of them.  After all, what kind of questions do stupid people ask? Do they suddenly become smart just in time to ask questions?  And I think I've heard them all.  And very smart people still sometimes ask stupid questions.  The difference is, they generally *realize* it's a stupid question about a heart-beat later.  To me, the stupid questions break down into three categories:
- questions you already know the answer to,
- questions already answered in the last 30 seconds (therefore stupid because you clearly were not paying attention and/or see point one),
- and questions that even a modicum of common sense clearly answers.

Now I realize that common sense is not so common, but since my students tend to be of above average intelligence (yeah!) I feel this rule applies.   "Can I walk under my horse?" would be considered a question in this category by anybody whose age is in double digits or higher.  And no, I'm not inventive enough to make that up.

That mini-rant being said, I actively encourage questions in my lessons because the vast majority of them are legitimate and serve to either aid in learning or highlight a skill that needs more clarification -- since both of these things are part of my job description, anything that makes that easier is a bonus!

But one of the things that makes teaching truly interesting is when I get asked a really *intelligent* question.  To me a truly intelligent question does one of two things:
- it demonstrates an understanding or attempt at comprehension of a skill or concept that is well beyond the rider's current abilities,
- or, it really makes me think about the answer.

The first of those always impresses me and gives me hope for whichever student asked the question.  The second of those is part of what makes teaching really interesting.  Neither is entirely common.  Today I had *both*.

A just-off-the-lunge-line student who watched a more advanced class asking me the difference between flexion and bend.  Totally simple question with an easy answer -- but what made it intelligent, imo, was that she considered what she was watching, was paying enough attention to realize she didn't really *know* what she was watching, figured out precisely which piece she didn't understand, AND she cared enough to ask.   That's not entirely common.

And later on a student asking me how to feel when the horse drops his shoulder.   Not how to *fix* it, which she mostly already knew, but how to feel it.   I definitely had to consider how to answer that one for a second or two :)   hahaha long enough that she was questioning if her question made sense *g*   Yes, it's a good question, I just need a second to give it a good answer!   And any question I have to think about interests me :)  Next time I won't have to think about it cause it's under the "answered and filed" section now.  hahaha but the first time somebody asks me something interesting is always fun.

For those who ride, consider this one -- I remember similarly a fairly novice student (about EC rider 3) a few months ago asking me how it feels when your horse goes on the bit.  For those who know, how would you answer that?  And it's not an adult, so you can't be overly technical.   Do you go with the emotional yet slightly useless answer: "it feels incredible/it feels like you're floating/it feels like you suddenly have 10x the amount of power"?   Or do you go with the literal: "the weight in your hands softens, as their back lifts you feel as though you're sitting on something round and sit straighter so as to stay in balance, your hips swing more to accommodate the horse stepping farther underneath..."   Well that list could keep going :)   But really, the first one is a fairly useless answer and the second one is entirely too technical.  Neither is going to be of any use whatsoever to a student who's still trying to learn to flex without the horse turning.  But she asked the question, so I had to at least try to answer :)   Explaining aids is easy; explaining feel is far more of a challenge.  Usually, imho, even harder than teaching them to feel it themselves.  But fortunately once you've done that you don't *have* to explain it, cause they already know :)

Anyways - after I had to go discuss (read brag about :) with another coach the fact that I'd had *TWO* intelligent questions in one day, it left me thinking through what exactly qualified as an intelligent question.  Or not >;-P   And this is the overtired result of that.


Post a Comment