Don't worry... I'm not talking about you when I say "Horse Instructor's Worst Student Ever!"
It sounds like a juicy title, right? "Worst student ever!" However... it might not be what you think. This article is a self-realization that occurred to me during my own education process. I'm a master horseman and I have worked with thousands of students and horses accumulating tens of thousands of man-hours of experience. During my early career, one particular kind of student always troubled me until I stepped into the learner mode once again, but this time, outside the horse industry.
So what kind of student am I talking about? The kind that never does their homework.
Let's say I show up to teach a person how to canter safely on their horse. Then a week later I show up and they haven't even ridden once since our last lesson. If it happened once or twice I would assume that logistics were standing in the way of the person's personal progress and hope that once their circumstances changed he or she would be able to spend the time working on the homework in between lessons, therefore giving more opportunity to advance. But if the pattern continued, lesson after lesson, demonstrating no desire on the students part to do homework and improve on their own, it proved to be quite frustrating. Because... it would feel like I was teaching the exact same thing over and over and over. Most students apply what they learn but some... some just want to take lessons.
For years that frustrated me and then, one day, it hit me that I was that type of student in a whole other realm of learning. You see, as a horse lover, I couldn't ever get enough information and I practiced (and still do) every single day what I learned. I only needed crumbs and I could feed off those crumbs for months, fine-tuning the details of every lesson I learned. But when I started to learn how to fly an airplane. I became a different kind of student and my level of empathy for the student I described above, grew deeper.
Eventually, I became a pilot but it took forever because I didn't do the homework between lessons. My instructor had to mold every ounce of my feel and timing rather than me finding those things on my own.
So why did I turn into the worst student ever? Because I was flying for completely different reasons. I wasn't flying to become an expert pilot. I wasn't flying to be able to see the world and make the skies even friendlier. I was flying because I wanted to be with people I liked. It was a social experience as much as a learning experience. I didn't mind not making huge progress because I wanted more time with the other pilots around me. I liked the environment more than I liked the thought of becoming something. I liked flying with someone more than flying itself. I didn't actually enjoy flying on my own.
When I finally recognized this, I became much more empathetic for my students who didn't make progress as quickly. I realized that perhaps they were doing horsemanship as a hobby because it was both challenging and socially rewarding at the same time but the primary factor was social experiences. Now when a student shows less progress but continues to takes lessons I'm a very happy man. I still always push for progress but I'm content knowing they enjoy my company too. I enjoy their company also and I love engaging in peoples bucket list activities with them.
I know there are other factors like not feeling safe without the instructor present or feeling like you might do something wrong and take steps back instead of forward, so just remember... this article isn't about you. It's about me learning empathy for my students. It's about me walking a mile in your shoes to become a better instructor every time I meet with my students.
I love what I do and I love sharing it with you. I love it so much, in fact, I invite you into the mastery group so we can meet every week.
Take a look and join our passionate social group of dedicated friendly horse loving people. You will feel welcome and accepted immediately and challenged to grow to the next levels in your horsemanship.
Together we can do amazing things.