Analogies in teaching

Analogies in teaching

Scott Loudon | Thursday, 3 March 2016

This was something to consider about the practical realities of fly fishing instruction versus the keyboard warrior escapades of the internet forums. If you've spent any time at all on internet forums you've no doubt seen plenty of arguments, usually taking the form of someone trying to prove they're right whilst someone else strongly disagrees. Teaching analogies are of the things that tend to be easily lost to argument on the internet.

A friend of mine brought this up pointing out the stark difference between someone like the late Mel Kreiger who was a master of simplicity and putting conveying information to the student through phrases like his 'Whuuuuuump' to unnamed individuals on internet forums that will split hairs over the most miniscule details as it defines a fly cast. Both certainly have their place as you cannot gain solid understanding of something without those people who understand the background workings of physics and ultimately make discoveries that dribble down to those less technically savvy however it's a shame when the latter camp cause havoc and shoot down some of the most helpful teaching analogies regardless of context.

One has to remember that not all students, instructors nor casual internet readers have the level of knowledge to be able to absord and understand appropriate descriptions from the world of physics and engineering and often need something much much more simple even if not technically correct to allow them to understand. The stop being one classic example, does the average person ever need to know that the rod in reality may not stop, what RSP is and what the counterflex does? Absolutely not. If they are told to stop it, that will probably suffice.

One champion of blending both of these worlds is Mark Surtees (MCI), a man that will keep you keep you on the straight and narrow on the physics side of things and will give you technical descriptions as good as anyone you'll meet yet ask him to demonstrate a beginners introduction to fly casting class and he will turn up with a shopping bag and some leeks.

Let me explain. Mark demonstrated this last year at the Sexyloops meet in Scotland pointing out that the average learner has a fear of failure, a fear of how others perceive them and in general are just a bit awkward. Therefore instead of trying to explain what a transverse wave is and what it means for the cast in the first lesson he explains how to wave a vegetable. What's different to the motion of a leek and a rod? Nothing. And there in lies the beauty. Mark has brought simplicity to something that seems to becoming increasingly difficult as people lose (on internet forums at least) the ability to convey meaning of movement through simplistic analogy.

I'm all for both camps, you need technical experts and you need a communicator who can convey that information. I'd just love to see it when someone asks for advice on the internet that they get a balanced view that doesn't have to descend into a debate of who's right and wrong. I can only hope the world of actual instruction out there hasn't yet muddied this water.

In other news please keep an eye out for any of this kit. The BFCC have had some gear stolen this week so keep an eye out and let James Evans know if you have any leads or suspicions:


THEFT OF BFCC GEAR.- please share :-(Unfortunately a significant amount of BFCC tackle has been stolen overnight from...

Posted by Brit Flycast on Wednesday, 2 March 2016