Yesterday I watched the last 15 minutes or so of Anya’s horseback riding lesson. Karen kept up a near constant litany of corrections and suggestions as Anya trotted around the ring. I watched Anya for the minor adjustments to the way she sat in the saddle or held the reins but could hardly ever detect a change. They kept at it, Karen coaching, Anya riding, until the words changed. “That was perfect. Did you feel how that felt in the saddle?” Anya had made a full ring around the barn doing everything right. One more time around the ring and Karen ended the lesson, which had already gone a bit over, and asked Anya to cool down the horse with a walk around the ring several times. And, I smiled so big, not just because Anya kept at it until she got it right but also because Karen kept at it until Anya got it right. As all good teachers know, it is easier to build on to a success than to recover from a failure. Perhaps because we are the last lesson of the day Karen has the flexibility in her schedule to extend it a bit to end on a high note, but I think she’d have done it even if another student was waiting. Anya has told me, after all, sometimes when she comes out of the barn late that she got a late start while the previous student finished up.
Good teaching comes in all styles and places.