Today’s practice session involved getting on, riding and getting off the carpet lift. I covered the details in a previous post (Using the Carpet Lift), up to the point of what the student must do upon exiting the lift – the student must glide straight ahead.
While I was closely analyzing the sequencing of sub-skills up to this point, I recognized a couple of challenges in building out RSTP-formatted lessons. The first challenge is that, seemingly, there’s a chicken-egg/catch-22 type set of problems – how do you utilize a skill before you have learned and mastered it that is simultaneously required to acquire that skill (eg you need skill A to learn skill B, but you need to possess skill B to learn skill A)?
There, also, seems to be a variation on that dilemma, one where you have a circular interdependency of sub-skills (eg you need skill A to learn skill B, you need to possess skill B to learn skill C and you need to possess skill C to learn skill A)?
Here’s an example of the problem I encountered – gliding straight off the carpet lift requires a couple of smaller skills (loose and centered side-to-side snowboarding stance, a 60% front foot/40% back foot balance front-to-back on the board, and remaining still while in motion), but in order to practice each of those skills, while in motion, you, seemingly, need to be positioned up some distance on a hill, even if it’s an extremely low-grade hill, far enough to be able to coast down it, which involves either using the carpet lift, stepping up the hill, which is a precursor skill, but then being able to execute the whole sequence of strapping the back foot into the board, turning down hill and getting in the correct riding position (the near-simultaneous execution of which defeats the purpose of incremental skill acquisition and not glomming too many steps all together without having acquired any one of the sub-skills down to the point of mastery).
I realized I needed a way to break this Gordian knot and that, as a result, realized I can’t be rigidly bound by the standard learning sequence found for any given skill set. In grappling with this dilemma, I realized this analysis of the basic tenants of instruction was a good thing – that it would force creativity and the innovation of new approaches in instruction and skill transference for any given skill set (see INNOVATION).
The second challenge I recognized while I was closely analyzing the sequencing of sub-skills is that of managing that sequencing logically and systematically. With the snowboarding skill set, I thought I had my lessons laid out in a first-things-first manner, but when I began to examine it closer, I realized that I had skipped, seemingly, tiny little precursor skills (eg to get on the carpet lift you need to know how to step, to get off the carpet lift, you have to know stance, standing still and gliding, among other things).
It brought up the concept of precursors/predecessors – how do you structure the lesson so that all the interdependent precursors/predecessors are mastered before all of their associated successors? I’m finding it almost impossible to mentally hold all the separate relationships in my mind and then order them in their property sequence. I’m realizing that I need to find a way automate how tasks are ordered according to precursors/predecessors.
I don’t have the solution for this challenge yet, but I have done a little bit of research that may point to a possible solution. The newest terminology is that of “topological ordering of task sequence.” I’ve even found information for Python based topological sort algorithms (see TOPOLOGICAL SORTING). The further I go, the bigger the puzzle gets!! lol
Be sure to check in tomorrow to see what’s next. (see “Testing, Testing RSTP Theory – Snowboarding, PART 2c” )