Teaching it --- useful tips?

stief

Super Anarchist
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Which makes me realize everyone with an iPhone has that "utility" app that has a GPS-based compass, that most have never used.  I do use it.
Oho! Good, until the high-schoolers learn, often the hard way, that taking their phone out in a dinghy is not like in a car  :p

Best wishes for your courses. So satisfying when a student suddenly 'gets it,' and advance from where they were towards where you know they want to be.

(and for nervous newbie instructors: who also learn like a doctor to run all plans through the 'do no harm' mantra)

 

stief

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Sorry for this, but to have fun, pretend to try and keep a straight face, and tell the students that learning Japanese can help.

Then have them watch this video after they've tried the blow over a piece of paper trick. 




 
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Breamerly

Member
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110
My $.02 is to connect the compass to the wind and landmarks. Throw in brief info concerning typical prevailing conditions / compass directions and what usually happens when other than typical weather is afoot.
just my opinion but this is too much theory.

You can sail small boats all summer without ever knowing - or needing to know - where 'north' is, or how weather works. With sailing student there is already a glut of theory/abstract stuff they have to absorb at the front end - why glom even more on

 

El Borracho

Sam’s friend
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Pacific Rim
I was going to take my kid out to shoot some baskets. But then I realized I had not taught them about the principals of ball inflation, ballistics and court markings.

 
Make sure the instructors are properly dressed 

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Black Jack

Super Anarchist
The best first lessons are not about boats, rigging, sails, rudder, wind or water - it is about creating confidence, self reliance and having a recovery plan.  Making new sailors to not be afraid of the water, of being in the water and recovering a boat that has fouled or capsized is gold.  Being taught how to manage a stressful situation starts at having confidence recovering from a problem or setback - a huge life skill. Slowing each student down after a capsize or fouled so they learn a planned recovery is far important than any other lesson you will teach them. These skill lessons and "tests" will make sailing classes fun and bonded through shared expereince which will pay off in their sailing future.

Wind, water and breakage are part of being on a boat. How a person learns to be composed and think during these times are what begins to makes great sailors. The boat, sail, how to steer, using a compass and how read the wind come later. Rules of the road later in stepped fashion.  Do not forget that many people do not know how to do things in real life, are rarely asked to engage with a vessel they put into motion that relies on what they directly effect nor are they taught life skills which stress taking on personal safety, can offer assistance to others and most importantly being situatually aware to see the big picture around them.

 
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Raz'r

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The best first lessions are not about boats, rigging, sails, rudder, wind or water - it is about creating confidence, self reliance and having a recovery plan.  Making new sailors to not to be afraid of the water, of being in the water and recovering a boat that has fouled or capsized is gold.  Being taught how to manage a stressful situation starts at recovering from a problem or setback is a huge life skill. Slowing each student down after a capsize or fouled so they learn a planned recovery is far important than any other lesson you will teach them.

Wind, water and breakage are part of being on a boat. How a person learns to be composed and think during these times are what begins to makes great sailors.  This is the life skill you are teaching. The sail, how to steer, using a compass and how read the wind come later. Rules of the road later in stepped fashion.  Do not forget that many people do not know how to do things in real life, are rarely asked to engage with a vessel they put into motion that relies on what they directly effect nor are they taught life stills which stress personal safety, can offer assistance and most importantly being situatually aware to see the big picture around them.
Beginners right?

I start with a quick roundtable of "what are your goals for taking the class?"  I even as my 12 year old beginning double handed kids this.  Then I explain MY goals for the class. Some may not be the same, but that's ok, get everyone on the same page.  Besides, if all of them want to learn how to get back to their Significant Other who normally runs the boat if s/he falls off, well, you may change up your idea of teaching racing starts.

 and you have lasers available? How's the water temp? First thing just have them flip the boat, right it. Now they've experienced the worst there can be. Nothing to be afraid of.  Now they can learn.

 

d'ranger

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In thinking about this I would add ask why are you here? Background - I have a degree in teacher ed and realized that I would hate the profession because many don't even want to be there much less learn anything. Since it's not mandatory what Raz'r said, find out their goals and expectations and proceed from there. It's not a one size fits all.  I race a lot and some with hard core and some with folks just wanting an excuse to go sailing - I adjust my actions to fit in with theirs (the laid back started a couple of years ago and I had to deal with my frustrations) so we all get to have my 3 rules.  I view those races as cruising with a specific course and we are all happy.

edit: This is a fun thread and a big reason why I read these forums. Kudos to nolatom for an excellent question.

 
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bgytr

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....... blindfold ...... 
This.  I taught kids and adults.  First lesson was blindfold everyone and have them point into the wind on land.

In the boat early on, usually 2nd lesson on the water, if the wind was medium light, take the tiller with the blindfold on.

 
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tizak

Member
Really don't get linking a compass and landmarks to theory - they're not theoretical. My take is that knowing a little about where the wind is coming from, where you want to go and how the sails / rudder work is vital to reaching a destination and then getting back to where you came from.

 
I’ve used an RC sailboat to show new sailors what’s up. Set up a W/L course and have them try to sail around it. They get to see how sailing works and can ask questions about mistakes they’ve made. 
 

After they can get around the course a few times then we learn to rig a boat and go out sailing for real.

 

Spoonie

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There are a bunch of mature, well respected syllabuses around for teaching learn to sail.   At a minimum I'd suggest do some googling and have a look at their basic modules if not pay to get them.  

I don't teach learn to sail but from memory most if not all of them start with an on land exercise on steering and how to pull the sail on so it doesn't flap.  (a flappy sail is an unhappy sail) and then just get them going from beam reach to beam reach between two marks. 

Things like capsizing doesn't get taught untill week 3 or 4 at least (from memory) 

 

nolatom

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Well,

I finally did do the first teaching session in  Adult Basic keelboat instruction" yesterday evening.  Four students, little to no sailing experience, all nice folks.  Two hours to teach them.

I gave out diagrams showing parts of the boat, and points of sail.  They gave it a quick look and then it was "okay, what's next".   Nice 10-12 out of the south, and we are on the southern shore of Lake Pontchartrain.  Keelboats in their slips, 420s on dollies. So we rolled out one of the latter, and all pitched in to get from sails rolled up in big bag, to sails raised, boat heading south, luffing.  So they learned about halyards first, and sheets slack.

Then we just rotated her clockwise slowly around in a circle, trim in at port tack close-hauled, then easing sails, reaching, eventually ddw, then jibe, start trimming in, broad reach beam reach etc etc until we were back up head to wind. This was good since it got everyone involved with sheets and sail trim, and turning the boat.  And made them aware of what it felt like to jibe (if you don't duck, you'll learn why they call it a boom, ha ha).  

With more than an hour remaining, out we went in one of the 20-foot Freedom keelboats. Good breeze, lots of course changes and sailhandling on all points of sail to get from slip to Lake, in a "box" shape heading west, then north, then east, and finally out past the breakwater and the Southern YC, into the "big water".  I think marina sailing teaches you way quicker than open water does, all your tacks, jibes, etc, are done for a demonstrable reason.  We're lucky to have a "sailing" marina with wide lanes.  We sailed kind of close to shore, which I think demonstrated our motion better than just looking at water (and makes the parked car folks on Lakeshore Drive jealous?).  Interest level remained high, and we made it in right at dusk.  So we we packed a lot into two hours.

They agreed out on the water that the 420 dolly demonstration was much more real to them than the paper diagram.  I encouraged them to look on the web nevertheless at any how-to-sail site, and weather gods willing, we will head out again tomorrow evening.  

I think I tend to teach "do it,  then read about it", rather than vice-versa.  I know that's not everyone's learning style.  

Thanks for your comments and ideas earlier in this thread, and I welcome any more.

 
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AJ Oliver

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Sandusky Sailing Club
Lots of good suggestions above . . 

to me, the first thing to emphasize is safety - I'd show them a waist pack PFD which would be more tolerable to wear in NO heat. (see below) 

Also good to mix up the teaching approaches - reading, lecture, hands on, learn by doing. Not everyone learns the same way. As is suggested above, learn by doing is important for sailing. 

Keep it funny and fun. 

Give them a pop quiz every half hour or so . .  where is the wind ? direction ? velocity ? What tells are they using to answer that question ? (flags, water, smoke, trees, etc) 

I have introduced a number of people to sailing, several of whom have become MUCH better sailors than me. 

Check your ego at the door, or leave it in the car. 

717344_GGRR_1.jpg


 
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coyotepup

Anarchist
793
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Michigan
Well,

I finally did do the first teaching session in  Adult Basic keelboat instruction" yesterday evening.  Four students, little to no sailing experience, all nice folks.  Two hours to teach them.

I gave out diagrams showing parts of the boat, and points of sail.  They gave it a quick look and then it was "okay, what's next".   Nice 10-12 out of the south, and we are on the southern shore of Lake Pontchartrain.  Keelboats in their slips, 420s on dollies. So we rolled out one of the latter, and all pitched in to get from sails rolled up in big bag, to sails raised, boat heading south, luffing.  So they learned about halyards first, and sheets slack.

Then we just rotated her clockwise slowly around in a circle, trim in at port tack close-hauled, then easing sails, reaching, eventually ddw, then jibe, start trimming in, broad reach beam reach etc etc until we were back up head to wind. This was good since it got everyone involved with sheets and sail trim, and turning the boat.  And made them aware of what it felt like to jibe (if you don't duck, you'll learn why they call it a boom, ha ha).  
I think you've done what I would've suggested doing if I weren't so late to the party.  When learning to drive, do they teach you the fundamentals of an internal combustion engine and what makes the pistons go up and down?  No - they tell you what the care does when you push down on the pedals.

Likewise, I always think it's best to teach sailing newbies what to do instead of why they're doing it.  This rope is a sheet.  This one is a halyard.  The sheets do this.  The halyards do that.  You can know all the principles of physics involved and still not have a clue what all these stupid ropes do, and that would make you useless on a boat.  Fuck Bernoulli - just put the sail in the right place and watch the boat start to move.  Anyone who's learning to sail so they can go cruising will never give a damn about the physics; anyone who's learning so they can go racing will find it much easier to learn if they know what things are called and what they do.

About the only physics lesson worth giving in the beginning is that the boat can't go straight into the wind.  The rest, people just pick up as they go - but they'll never pick it up if they can't figure out the mystery of all the ropes.

 

dfw_sailor

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DFW
#1 for for learning sail control.

if in doubt, let it out.

My favorite part of teaching is when I can get someone to sail a keelboat close hauled, blindfolded while steering from the low side (flatish lake water 5 to 10 kts wind, especially with moderately changing strength and direction because of shore features. When a student can do that, they achieve enormous self satisfaction.  At that point the total concept of wind on skin, heel / power etc just seems to click.

And of course have fun.

 

CaptainAhab

Anarchist
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South Australia
Every session we go down to the water. We talk about the theoretical forecast. We check our "flags"(anything that shows us wind speed/direction). Decide how to setup the boats, where to launch and sail on that day based upon the conditions.

I spend 15 minutes with a whiteboard and a small bath toy boat(looks like an optimist). If possible always put the board on the ground or table so everyone is looking down in plane view. keeping it vertical makes no sense. Go over the point of sail diagram with the no go zone. If they can get that concept they are way ahead.

On the shore boat demo. Show them how to steer not tacking. Steering. Point out the rudder, tiller, tiller extension. Then tell them never to look at them again. Explain the 50/50 choice of going left or right. Testing which way the boat will turn. Do not let them think. Only do. Explain that steering a boat is like riding a bike. 99% of the time the handlebars are in the center. This is steering. If you want to turn, mover the bar/tiller and ......wait. No fast jerky movements, the tiller is never more than a few degrees from center, until you tack or gybe.

Keeping it interesting. Explain them the differences between a plane, sailboat, submarine in that order. Planes fly thru air, boats fly sideways thru both air & water , subs fly thru water.  I'm talking basic lift like they experience in airplanes. Rudder, wings,foils/ sails. No complicated physics(until that one guy asks and you have the correct answers to tell him after class)

The most important thing I have learned in teaching sailing(or anything) "You don't know what they don't know". Make them ask you 3 questions as you go from section to section. 3 at the white board, 3 at the on water demo, 3 at the end. It forces them to think on the spot. It creates group discussions. It let's you know what they don't know. Ask them as a group to volunteer 3 questions about anything. If no one volunteers pick someone real quick, they will give you a blank stare, say we skip you and pick another. They will get the game eventually. I do it more on the water if I'm in the boat with them. 

Have fun, get creative. Teaching sailing is one of my passions.

 
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