Weekly Musings – Our Curriculum

I think curriculum has become such a bad word thanks to the disarray of our public school systems and the seemingly non-stop stream of bad media it receives. There are champions of education everywhere, and it has always been difficult. Always.

We have this illusion that things are supposed to be easy and accomplished with little to no work; that’s just not true. I agree there is an efficient way to accomplish things and I do like the idea of “work smarter, not harder,” but we have lost the value of hard work. We have enslaved ourselves in laziness of easy comfort. I will save the lecture about places in the world where this is not the case and how we, as Americans, have it so much better. That’s not where I am going with this.

Instead, I wanted to write a brief musing about how we have found our core curriculum at H2o Dreams and how it is a never ending process and will forever be an evolution. Teaching is in the business of investing in people, and each person has his/her own story, and therefore, a unique way of learning. Our curriculum, at the end of the day, is always kept in check by our MISSION.

I do feel with kayaking, though, we have pegged a couple of things down with the different levels of learning.

At a beginner level, I have found we have over complicated many of the things a student “needs to know.” They really don’t need to know a whole lot to empower themselves to go out and explore. They need to know how to survive (wet exit). They need to know the basic dynamics of class I-II whitewater and it’s presentation of obstacles. They want to know how to roll and self-rescue, and they want to know how to control the boat with relative ease. What they want to know IS as important as what they need to know as these are not just expectations but motivation.

I think we found that as long as we are accomplishing those goals, we are hitting a home run with the student. They are then enabled to go out and explore the many options at that level and begin to discover many of the answers for themselves. Our curriculum has a core that adds to that success quickly without muddying up the waters of brain.

I have seen many teaching curriculums that overly complicated the beginner stage and lead to the results of frustration and disappointment. The bar is set too high, too fast. Indoctrination is prevailing and exploring is discouraged. It’s the “do it this way method, because this is the way it works.” There has been a loss of creativity in the curriculum, not so much in our understanding of how things work, but in the sequence in which we teach them. We have lost the way of what MOTIVATES people to keep pushing, exploring, and understanding.

The intermediate paddler, or “the complicated beginner,” is the stage where we can truly start to open the flood over the student. But the flood must not come too fast, too hard, still if the student isn’t ready, and our recognition of this is the most important thing. This, of course, is in a delicate balancing act of developing GRIT. Grit is also a quality of high level paddlers and many times is what helps the intermediate to start pushing through to becoming a better paddler. In order to accomplish dynamic moves, you need dynamic whitewater. That doesn’t mean much more than pushy class III current and purposeful paddling. See our purposeful paddling options.

The intermediate stage is where we truly begin to develop an understanding. We start to play, our falls seem no longer as big of a deal as much as it is an opportunity. We start to find our place amongst the water world and the paddling community and how not only others help us, but how we help them. We are introduced to our responsibility to what gives us our joy.

The advanced stage is a amalgamation of everything we have learned; it’s a zen like state in many ways. We simply do: not just our river maneuvers, not just our leadership, but our existence with the river. We are not infallible at this stage as we have the greatest understanding that our river of choice is ultimately in control of the river, we are not. We are only in control of ourselves on the river. The river after we leave is still a river, unchanged. Instead, the river changes us.