TEACHING REMEDIES Giving Your Students the Right Dose
is certainly less dramatic, but can be very similar.
While working at a private club a few years ago, I recall hearing some of the members’ comments regarding their recent experiences with a golf school that they had just attended. Surprisingly, most of the comments were negative in nature. The most common complaint was that they were overloaded with information to the point of confusion.
This answer surprised me and also made no sense to me. I thought, how could a person be confused after spending five days with a golf instructor? My recent experience as the director of an America’s Favorite Golf School location in Pennsylvania helped to shed some light on this issue of overload as it relates to the golf school participant, so it is now apparent to me how this could happen.
Teaching golf in the golf school format is completely different than that of the private environment. The golf school requirements can awaken us to some harsh realities regarding the perceptions of our skills and abilities as teaching professionals. The school environment constantly tests our knowledge, patience and adaptability. Leadership and organizational skills are also required due to the long periods of time that we are present with the students.
I have no doubt that there have been students (especially at the beginning of my tenure) who have left the school somewhat confused. In my attempt to cure their ills, I overdosed them with information. Inexperience with this school format and my desire helped to make me overanxious, so I fed these people with too much information in a well-meaning attempt to help them.
For a long time, I believed that technical knowledge of the golf swing was the most important factor necessary for being a fine instructor. I now know that, as necessary as technical knowledge is, it is more important to an instructor to organize your teaching thoughts and to be able to convey this knowledge so that it is easily understood. This is where experience plays a key role in determining not only what information to give, but even more importantly, how much to give.
The main and obvious difference between a private lesson and the golf school format is time. There is more time to receive information in a golf school, but there is less time to digest the information.
In contrast, in the private lesson format, a student has a week or more to digest the information, and perhaps acquire the desired skill. Sinc
e the lesson period is less, there is less time for the student to become confused.
If we are not careful, the golf school format can be counterproductive, even though the students have the potential for a great learning experience. A golf school format provides the instructor with the opportunity to develop “the big picture” for his students, to slowly and methodically build upon the knowledge necessary for swing repair and improvement, and provide for the development of the various shots necessary for game improvement. If you are careful, this can be a very rewarding avenue for both student and instructor alike.
In a private lesson scenario, we are called upon to offer quick remedies for some specific problems. Most often this is not an in-depth approach. We offer some potential remedies, and the student has ample time to rehearse and practice them. This is quite often less stressful for both student and instructor.
Whatever your teaching format, if you have a student for fifty minutes or fifty hours, you must structure the lesson time accordingly so that your students are given the right “dosage” of your teaching medicine, and sufficient time for a “cure” to take place. This formula, together with your enthusiasm and love for the game, is the prescription necessary for your success as a teaching professional.
Enthusiasm and love for the game will also go a long way to help you be patient and creative with regard to your students. Your students will pick up on this, and sense that you care about their progress and success, all leading to more success for you as well.