The Curse (or not) of Being You
"Chapter 1"

Vikings Coach Dennis Green became infamous for repeatedly saying They are who we thought they were!!!” The questions are "Do we ever really know what makes others "tick”? and then "Do we really even know who we are?"

To set the premise, I can only speak from a singular perspective. Mine has been “formed” over a seventy  year plus journey. I think I know who I am and persist in not remaining static. Which means  tomorrow  I will be somewhat different. If that were not true there is no way I would pursue these thoughts.  

I'm searching for explanations of what I think my training program is. It should be a bit more than a list of things I do and/or not simply labeled with the author's name (to the letter or not).

Given the present trend of using a program to train a retriever, I often wonder how that fits in with knowing what I do. Using a parallel example, a school district with four high schools was informed that a finale agreement was reached on the new chemistry text. For the next several years, students and teachers would use this well written and "advanced" book. It is structured like most texts, but has a new style and is unique (aren't they all). This exciting, new text becomes the next best “program” for teaching chemistry using all the up-to-date, accepted technology plus it is well written and easy to read.  

It is a given that the basic concepts of chemistry are well defined and an excellent teacher becomes so by learning, adjusting and applying. Meshing the skills of a teacher with the talents of each student is a constantly changing challenge. Learning is complicated because we don't know the author's mind set, the teacher's skills or the students' potential and not all of those are a constant.

For example, the talented, experienced teachers have a feel for the correct way to present ideas, how to mold perceptions, when to push and when to back off. After all, they are experienced and should know. In many cases the manner in which lessons (from the text) are presented will be modified or even bypassed because the experienced “know a better and/or familiar, comfortable way”.

It is interesting to observe how the inexperienced teachers fresh from college or having never actually taught chemistry before cope. Some will take the independent approach and tend to plunge ahead with an “I can do this approach.” Others may defer to an experienced teacher asking for input. This second approach is an attempt to employ “tried and true” methods because they have none of their own (yet).

The problem is two fold..........the novice doesn't know who they are and may not  understand the experienced teacher. It takes time to become comfortable with yourself and perspectives are usually in a state of flux. The term inexperienced covers a lot of ground. Following directions is inefficient because “directions” are most likely coming from a very different perspective.

Applying the previous premise, how many religiously follow every single step of a retriever "program" and I don't mean “the list” in where swim-by fits in or when (or if) you do stick fetch, etc.? I find the process almost impossible to quantify........then add in the variables necessary to "reach" each unique dog.   

Do you often vary presentations “outside the box”? Examples would be how one might setup a training day wingers, “stand alones”, send backs, frequency of group training, birds often (or not), training areas and the list is far from finite. Given the complexity of the peripheral considerations involved in training, there is much to deal with beyond actual teaching.

And yet, teaching should be the primary focus. Books, programs, heeling sticks, e-collars, check cords don't teach. Programs present present short "titles" of what to do next with a sequential theme. However, there is little instruction on how to present and rarely a rationale (why?). There should be a parallel process which focuses on teaching. Rarely is that ever attempted. 

The basic problem is most written programs are a set of directions without the "what to do if things go  south " and/or with the "how to's" missing. For the so called visual learner, DVD's show you what it looks like when it is done correctly (most of the time), but it is often difficult "see" the subtleties of how it was accomplished. In essence, you won't learn what you need to do (the how to)....only what it should look like if it is done correctly.  

Here's an example. I was in the race horse business for many years. After awhile I decided to trim my  yearlings' hooves instead of having the blacksmith do them. After all, watching him very often it seemed  rather simple. Ha! It wasn't. Bloody hands and a sore back were constant reminders. After several attempts, it wasn't AS difficult.

Then a few years later, I decided, my yearlings' first set of horse shoes should be put on by me. I'd watched the blacksmith often with same discovery. It looked a whole lot easier when he was doing it. And even after my first, it was clearly obvious mine were not professionally done. Seeing is believing it can happen. Doing means you've found your way.
Try and deal with these three questions. “Do you know who you are?” (and if not) "How are you going to deal with not knowing?” The last fits in with the beginning...“Do others really know who you are?”

The bottom line is motivation, doing it yourself and getting past the "I really didn't realize it took more than just reading a book, watching a DVD or even seeing someone else work at it".  You can't really learn much unless the proper mindset is in place. Decide on becoming more aware and focus on teaching. Get involved with more than just following directions.

Most think they are ready to "Go" but have never been past "Baltic Avenue" and those first steps should be based on more than a roll of the dice.

next up: the "How to get started".......prioritized.
(Chapter 2)


                                                                                    updated 08/14/14