Peda(l)gogy

  Haunted by the classroom.

Back to School.

I am a teacher by trade and although I have (temporarily) given it up; like an ex-smoker, the memory remains vivid.  It's a vocation thing I suppose. Trust me, you wouldn't be doing it in today's statistically driven, continually under the cosh, humourless, 'Gove World',  if you didn't basically enjoy the process of teaching and learning (that's pedagogy) and the interaction with students and fellow professionals. It is a challenging but potentially hugely rewarding career.  I certainly wouldn't swap my time in teaching for the world.

No. This is not going to be a post about the work that teacher's do, or the conditions that the modern teacher works in; that would take a whole new website, let alone blog post.

My problem is that slowly and pervasively, my professional training and experience seems to be rearing its head as I ride my bikes.

A lifetime spent constructing schemes of work, lesson plans and resources, days spent poring over statistics and refining techniques and approaches correlates closely with my riding. Reading (bike) magazines, checking GPS data, planning my next ride and trying to improve my skill set is remarkably like the teaching/learning process. As is occasionally flying by the seat of my pants.

There is a serious discussion to be had here about the benefits of putting cycling (and more physical activity generally) in the curriculum. There is a recognised MTB professional rider (who's name escapes me) who is trying to do just that. Hell, even Kelly College are at it - but I'm not going there in this particular post.

I'm talking about the processes of riding and improving/teaching and learning.

These days the little voice inside my head is continually asking "How could you do that better ? What skills do you need to learn in order to be able to clean that tricky section ? Will moving to 650b improve my roll over ability, Is proper ale a suitable electrolyte replacement ? etc etc. 

Once I've started, I can't stop. I sometimes grade my ride according to OFSTED observation criteria - A Grade '3' = 'Requires improvement', is borderline professional death to a teacher, yet it is probably the honest assessment of all my rides. That's half the point isn't it ? Once you become more than an occasional biker, aspects of your riding will always need improvement; be they fitness, technical skill, or frequency/motivation based. 'Requires improvement' could also be what the guy who just finished 2nd in the World DH Champs would think.  A Grade '3' used to be 'Satisfactory'. Turns out semantics do matter....

I often think about how I could differentiate the route for the less/more able and am always trying to find new lines that might fit the ability level of people that I'm not even riding with right then. Ok, so sometimes they are through woods I probably shouldn't be in - but this is Cornwall, it's a sizeable sparsely populated area outside the 'Honeypots'. I frequently bump into zero people on my rides. Recently I have even started to give myself 'Well Done Awards' for sections of a route. I now have seven. 3 more and I get a voucher for £1.00 to spend in the canteen.

It's not life threatening but it's bugging me, so I have attempted to get it out of my system in one go.

What follows is a bona fide lesson plan, using an established template, for an MTB lesson, using my regular local loop as the classroom. Obviously it's a bit tongue in cheek but I wanted to give non-teachers an idea of the level of planning that goes into each and every lesson a teacher delivers, as well as to purge the pedagogy demon from my rides.

Mountain Biking Lesson Plan - A Suggestion for 14-16 Year olds.

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