This week I am helping tutor a Level 2 training course for canoe/kayak coaches. This involves giving students what used to be called a coaching process course. It builds on the basic coaching knowledge they will have learnt from a Level 1 course. On day 1 in the afternoon we covered several mini sessions about some theory, which included something about how memory works. Now I wondered at the time why this was important for canoe coaches. The analogy used was one of files in a filing cabinet, or the bin. Anyway whilst listening to the other tutor discussing the options I was thinking how this fitted into learning and teaching. Petty (2006; 8) says that "Learning is making sense, not just remembering", i.e. it is more than just pouring information into the brain to be stored away for later. In fact does the brain even retain information that isn't accessed regularly?

The relevance of the memory lesson is apparent on day 2 of the course when reference is made to "dog eared" files that someone has learnt previously and are now embedded in the long term memory. Or the need to create the right information to be stored in these files. These embedded memories will become active during times of stress. So with regard to canoeing technoques if someone has developed an incorrect technique, this can be very difficult to correct as you are trying to change a long term memory file for something new. I have certainly seen evidence for this today with someone attempting a reverse backwater stroke in which he consistently placed the paddle in the crossdeck stroke incorrectly. However in teaching using a "self-check" style markers were given for an effective stroke, including what face of the paddle should face forward on the crossdeck stroke. Thus the student could instantly see when the correct stroke was done when he was conscience about what he was doing. In a canoe this stroke can be done on both side (bilaterally). On the student's other side no such error of paddle placement was evident.

What I noticed was as soon as the student stopped "thinking" about the stroke he reverted back to his original incorrect method, although it was an easy matter of a one word reminder to correct. The student asked some questions about why the stroke should be as shown, i.e looking for some motivation and explanation as to effectiveness and reasoning.

Petty (2006;13) talks about reproduction of tasks which are on the lower level of Bloom's taxonomy and
"Do not require the learner to process the material, or apply the learning, or even to understand it. This makes the task simple, but has the disadvantage that it does not require the learners to create a meaning in mentalese and to connect it to their existing learning"
Mentalese is the language that our brains store information in, as opposed to the language we use to communicate to others in. So in the case of our paddler re-learning a stroke, only copying it isn't sufficient to add onto the current knowledge embedded in his brain. A teacher needs to create understanding and sufficient repetitions and adaptation in different environments to create enough meaning to change or add onto the previously learnt technique. Changing well use dog eared files is difficult and may need to tackled from novel approaches to create a new file which can be accessed more readily.

So for the paddler in question, on the side he has not practised the stroke before there was no memory, so the practice and coaching was effective quite quickly. However on the original side further understanding and effectiveness was required to start the process. If I ask for a repetition of the stroke tomorrow will a change be made without input? Maybe, but maybe not..So considering a teaching style which uses higher levels on Blooms Taxonomy may be necessary to effect the change permanently
Research needed as I didn't really get this at all in class yesterday. I believe that this is about communication and relates to life in general. This is a theory of psychology (I should ask my daughter for more information!) and based on three EGO states "Adult", "Child" and "Parent".

So what do those words mean? It is always hard to understand something new when words are used that already have some meaning. In the Neuro-Linguistic Programming lecture we discovered that everyone has different brain connections for words and it is no different for me with these words.
explains the words are representative of a behavioural state as follows:

CHILD: Self-centred; Wants it's own way; Doesn't care about anyone else
ADULT: "our ability to think and determine action for ourselves" (
PARENT: Parents say "You should do this". Our "ingrained voice of authority" (, personality based on our experiences of parents, teachers, authority figures

In other words (
  • Parent is our 'Taught' concept of life
  • Adult is our 'Thought' concept of life
  • Child is our 'Felt' concept of life
There is a test here:

I came out as 85% parent, 10% adult and 42% child. What does this mean, it clearly isn't meant to add to 100%, so perhaps it is about percentage of potential? Not at all sure! There were plenty of questions I didn't understand though, so I won't worry too much! OR perhaps I should develop the ADULT side ... I did wonder when adulthood was achieved and I clearly have some way to go! LOL

Seriously ... For teaching I think the point is that effective communication needs to be between two adult states. If the person we are talking to is in either of the other two states then we can influence that to create effective communication. "the best way to get a person into their adult mode is by listening to their problem and then asking them what you can do to make them happy. This will typically disarm them and get them in their adult mode" ( )

"At the core of Berne's theory is the rule that effective transactions (ie successful communications) must be complementary. They must go back from the receiving ego state to the sending ego state. For example, if the stimulus is Parent to Child, the response must be Child to Parent, or the transaction is 'crossed', and there will be a problem between sender and receiver." ( - an explanation of transactional analysis proper.

Have just watched this video which certainly clarifies how people change their ego state depending on how and what language they are using and also their body language. I suppose what is important about this theory is the need to be aware of our own ego state. By being more parent like another could revert to child like tendencies or respond as another parent this creating a disruptive communication. I suppose by moving a communication to adult to adult state both people are in a state of being reasonable.

If anyone out there has some useful websites or suggested references for me to look at I would be grateful. This is going to take some getting my head around". Thank you.
We spent part of our recent lesson comparing how children learn with how adults learn. There are differences:

pedagogy - children

Just absorb information around them

Creative - "think outside the box", e.g. give a child a cardboard box they will play with it and use their imagination to see it as a house, car, kennels etc.

Give a child an tablet and they will just work it out - not bound by preconceptions!

andragogy - adult

Will question whether information is necessary, so adults need motivation to learn new things - Why do I need to know this? Relevance!

Can be constrained by current knowledge about how the world works.

Pedagogy is described as teaching through guiding and Andragogy as teaching through facilitating. So what is the difference I ask ... A guide takes a group up the mountain by a route s/he has determined and makes decisions and the walkers follow. A facilitator would take the walkers and discuss how they are going to climb the mountain, drawing on the walkers experience and allowing them to make decisions, but ultimately keeping them safe as would a guide.

Pedagogy is described as requiring structure and teaching dependent learners verses Andragogy as teaching more independent learners with autonomy, ie an ability to make their own decisions. I think as we grow up we are encourage to develop autonomy within our social constructs. So I suppose that the two types of teaching reflect the difference. However I still believe that as teachers we should see what students we have in front of us and adapt our teaching styles to reflect their needs wither that means giving structure through instruction (a didactic teaching style) or allowing experiential learning through discovery. Perhaps as teachers we are also responsible for combining all the different methods to help students learn that they can learn in different ways. If children are given the opportunity to try different learning styles then they would be more open to it later, so even with children being a guide and a facilitator is possible.

The best theory I heard yesterday was the idea that as children we are pedagogy learners and as we grow we develop into andragogy learners, ie adult learners, but we retain the child like qualities within us. To add to this I think teaching is far more than just giving or facilitating that information is learnt, it is also about creating enthusiasm for learning and for the subject and having the ability to see where their students are currently to show them learning is easy as long as you start from the right place!

I wrote the above a couple of weeks ago but didn't publish as it needed some more thought ... well this week I taught some Year 4s climbing (so aged 8/9/10 I guess). So this gives me an opportunity to think about what I would do differently for adults in this situation. The class was an introduction to climbing using ropes and asking everyone to be involved in the rope work on the ground (belaying) as well as everyone having a go at climbing the indoor wall.

For the children I asked what they had done before (ie gauging experience to build on - I would always do this as it says a lot about expectation of the session, confidence levels and in these sessions potential language barriers as some students where Polish speaking and their English was not good). The aim of the session was to give a climbing experience to everyone and have fun.

The information was taught using the IDEAS model (see previous blog) from putting on the harness & helmet to how to set up and perform belaying to keep the climber safe and also to coming back down the wall. The actual climbing although demonstrated was very much left for the individual to discover, with support from other students or the additional adult. So lots of types of teaching going on: group work to encourage team work and also from my point of view to create a safe system of working that I can monitor (it is possible to teach climbing where the teacher belays each person, but there is a lot of waiting around for turns for students, so can be quite boring). All students are involved in learning climbing by trial and error (discovery learning), and belaying by group work and example. The belaying is taught in one way only (there are several methods i actual fact). If I were teaching adults I might start with a one method but explain more about why it works, whereas with children I tell them that this is what they must do to be safe. So this would be different levels of understanding as shown on the Bloom's Taxonomy scale.

All students got at least one climb (and mostly 2 or 3). Climbs were selected by me to create success. Some children choose not to do more than one climb, but all were very much involved in the belaying. All children were praised. Any issues of fear or "I can't get any higher" were dealt with on an individual basis with specific instructions to get higher (eg "Place you feet on this hold, now push up - can you reach higher?") or peer to peer help or "that's fine well done for getting that high let's get you down ....". There was competition between children, but created by them. Do adults do that or are they more interested in their own success?

To my mind this teaching adults verses children, either way there is a need to assess what is needed and instil motivation in you students. What is different is life experience and expectations and as a teacher we need to be aware of that when we are faced with a group. With experience we learn that children display certain attributes and adults display others, hence the definitions of our big words: pedagogy & andragogy. However within that