Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Multiple Intelligence

The theory of Multiple Intelligence (MI) was first published in 1983 by Howard Gardner in his book Frames Of Mind (1983) and quickly became established as a classic model by which to understand and teach many aspects of human intelligence, personality and behaviour. Gardner initially developed his ideas on multiple intelligences as a contribution to psychology, however the theory was soon embraced by education, teaching and training communities, for whom the appeal was immediate and irresistible.

Gardner's claim is that pencil and paper IQ tests do not capture the full range of human intelligences, and that we all have individual profiles of strengths and weaknesses across multiple intelligence dimensions. He defines intelligence as the capacity to solve problems or to fashion products that are valued in one or more cultural settings. Gardner's theory initially consisted of eight dimensions of intelligence (Visual / Spatial Intelligence, Musical Intelligence, Verbal/Linguistic Intelligence, Logical/Mathematical Intelligence, Interpersonal Intelligence, Intrapersonal Intelligence, Bodily / Kinesthetic Intelligence, and Naturalistic Intelligence). Since the publication of Frames of Mind, Gardner has additionally identified an 8th dimension of intelligence: Naturalist Intelligence, and is still considering a possible ninth: Existentialist Intelligence. Gardner suggests that each individual manifests varying levels of these different intelligences, and thus each person has a unique 'cognitive profile'.

The practical application of the theory of MI varies widely. It runs the gamut from a coach who, when confronted with a performer having difficulties, uses a different approach to teach a technique or skill, to an entire establishment using MI as a framework. In general, those who subscribe to the theory strive to provide opportunities for their students to use and develop all the different intelligences, not just the few at which they naturally excel.

As one would expect from a theory that attempts to redefine intelligence, one of the major criticisms of the theory is that it is ad hoc and the lack of emperical evidence that it is grounded upon. The criticism is that Gardner is not expanding the definition of the word "intelligence"; rather, he denies the existence of intelligence, as is traditionally understood, and instead uses the word "intelligence" whenever other people have traditionally used words like 'ability. This practice has been criticised by Robert J. Sternberg (1983, 1991), Eysenck (1994), and Scarr (1985).

Photo: Derrick Mayoleth

Inevitably, comparisons are made with other theories that provide explanations of how people learn and parallels are drawn most closely with that of NLP Learning Modalities. In fact, the Visual-Auditory-Kinesthetic learning styles model does not overlay Gardner's multiple intelligences rather the VAK model provides a different perspective for understanding and explaining a person's preferred or dominant thinking and learning styles. Essentially, Gardner's theory is one way of looking at learning and VAK is another.

MI theory and NLP Learning Modalities are concepts that offer relatively simple and accessible methods to understand and explain people's preferred ways to learn and develop. Critics have written that the use of such models and tests is wrong because it can 'pigeon-hole' people, and ignores the point that we are all a mixture of styles and preferences, and not just one single type, which is of course true. Remember that over-reliance on, or extreme interpretation of, any methodology or tool can be counter-productive. However, the more perspectives you gain, the better equipped you are in understanding the world along with the performers and learners you interact with.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Ocean Paddler Magazine

Photo: Douglas Wilcox

'Ocean Paddler - The sea kayaking magazine', which will be launched in July, is a new and exciting concept aimed solely at the sea and touring kayak paddler and published 12 times a year by ‘Masik Publishing'. Ocean Paddler’s 84 pages will include trip and expedition reports, technique articles, reviews, guides, interviews and much, much more. The publishers guarantee that the articles will inform, enthuse and excite today’s sea paddler.

Sea kayaking covers many different elements; from day trips to overnight sojourns; from weekend to week-long paddles; from full-blown expeditions to short play sessions in surf or tidal races and all in conditions, ranging from mild to wild and so will the magazine… beginners, intermediates, and experts alike are likley to revel in the coverage Ocean Paddler hopes to bring to our amazing sport.

Photo: Richard Parkin

The UK is rightly viewed as a leader in sea kayak manufacturing and design; BCU coaches are considered to be amongst the best there are, perhaps in the world, and the team behind Ocean Paddler think it’s about time that UK sea kayaking had a dedicated, monthly magazine it so richly deserves.

Printed on high quality paper, all from sustainable sources, Ocean Paddler will be a huge step forward from other UK based kayaking magazines; there are, of course, other UK paddling magazines covering sea kayaking, but Ocean Paddler will be the only monthly title that is entirely dedicated to the needs of the sea kayaker.

Photo: Douglas Wilcox

The Ocean Paddler team are determined to include only the very best content and have secured the exclusive services of the world’s best paddlesport wordsmiths and photographers, all of whom are equally as excited about Ocean Paddler.

Visit Ocean Paddler Magazine for more information and a half price subscription offer

Monday, May 28, 2007

Monday Morning Wave

Photo: Dave Chamonix

Whether 8 or 80 we surfers still remember how to play. Some try to make it a sport... trying to beat someone at something is not playing... the ocean knows how to play... sometimes we say next wave and I am going in... but she thinks... dont go home yet... I still want to play... and so we wait wondering why all of a sudden there are no waves... so we wait and she plays with us...

- Bear Woznick -

John McCarthy, a man of God and huge waves, knows a thing or two about his creator. A moment of faith at Aileens, Ireland.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Top Tips - Wildlife Watching

One of the reasons people paddle on the sea is to watch wildlife. So be aware of the needs of the creatures you like to watch. Seals and sea-birds often hang out on rocks and ledges. Some sea birds socialise in rafts out on the water. Sea birds often cluster on cliffs to nest. Watch the change of behaviour of birds and animals as you approach. You'll see them become alert to your presence. If you move closer they'll show restlessness and maybe agitation, before they finally flee. If you're aware of the pattern, try to watch and pass by at a distance that doesn't disturb. Although there are many reasons a colony of birds will take flight from their nests, the more frequent the disturbance the more likely the breeding season will fail. So if you're out for the fun of weaving your way along a coastline between stacks close to the cliffs, avoid the locations where there are a lot of birds, or a lot of seals. There are usually plenty of alternative play spots. If you're out to watch the birds and seals, seek a quiet spot where you can watch without causing disturbance.

Photo: Rolf Hicker

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Learning Modalities

Photo: daneli

A popular theory presented within coaching and some areas of eduction promotes the idea that learners and performers may have preferred modes by which they absorb information and receive feedback. It is suggested that some people may have a very strong preference in one particular dimension whilst other people may have a more even mixture of these modalities.

The concept of learning modalities, also known as representational systems, is supported within the field of neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) and is seen as an attempt to examine how the human mind processes information. NLP states that for practical purposes, information is (or can be treated as if) processed through the senses. Thus people say one talks to oneself (the auditory sense) even if no words are emitted, one makes pictures in one's head when thinking or dreaming (the visual sense), and one considers feelings in the body and emotions (known as the kinesthetic sense).

The most widespread model, VAK, suggests that most people can be divided into one of three preferred styles of learning which are as follows:

Someone whose modality is Visual - has a preference for seen or observed things, including pictures, diagrams, demonstrations, displays, handouts, films, flip-chart, etc. These people will use phrases such as ‘show me’, ‘let’s have a look at that’ and will be best able to perform a new task after reading the instructions or watching someone else do it first. These are the people who will work from lists and written directions and instructions.

Someone whose modality is Auditory - has a preference for the transfer of information through listening: to the spoken word, of self or others, of sounds and noises. These people will use phrases such as ‘tell me’, ‘let’s talk it over’ and will be best able to perform a new task after listening to instructions from an expert. These are the people who are happy being given spoken instructions over the telephone, and can remember all the words to songs that they hear!

Someone whose modality is Kinaesthetic - has a preference for physical experience - touching, feeling, holding, doing, practical hands-on experiences. These people will use phrases such as ‘let me try’, ‘how do you feel?’ and will be best able to perform a new task by going ahead and trying it out, learning as they go. These are the people who like to experiment, hands-on, and never look at the instructions first!

Certain people have chosen to augment the VAK model. This has been done by the addition of R for 'Reading' - VARK or by the addition of T for 'Tactile' - VAKT. There is even a model that accounts for olfactory stimulus (smells) and that of gustatory (food and drinks) - VAKOG

It is possible to access on-line questionnaires to discover your preferred modality or if in fact you reside in the multi-modal category. However, it is important to remember that modality tests offer a relatively simple methodology. Therefore it is important to note that these concepts and tools are only strategies to understanding overall personality, preferences and strengths and should not be used as the sole mechanism for assisting a learner to progress.

However, not everyone hails this concept as the dawn of a new understanding of how people learn. Frank Coffield and his colleagues from the University of Newcastle upon Tyne conducted a literature review that identified 71 different theories of learning style which was published in 2004. Coffield's team selected 13 of the most influential models for closer study. The researchers examined the theoretical origins and terms of each model, and the instrument that was purported to assess types of learning style defined by the model. They analysed the claims made by the author(s), external studies of these claims, and independent empirical evidence of the relationship between the 'learning style' identified by the instrument and students' actual learning.

One of the most widely-known theories assessed by Coffield's team was the visual, auditory and kinaesthetic (VAK) learning styles model. The conclusions about the VAK model were unequivocal:

Despite a large and evolving research programme, forceful claims made for impact are questionable because of limitations in many of the supporting studies and the lack of independent research on the model - Coffield, F., Moseley, D., Hall, E., Ecclestone, K. (2004). Learning styles and pedagogy in post-16 learning. A systematic and critical review. London: Learning and Skills Research Centre.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Monday Morning Wave

Photo: Alan Van Gysen

"Surfing and the ocean are my sanctuary. Away from the daily stressors of Life, I can reflect. I can be both something and nothing on the water. It helps put things in perspective whenever I am down. I can go in angry and come out calm. I can go in happy and come out even happier. I love The Ocean. I love surfing. Its great... I wish you Peace and Great Waves!"

- James E. Leonen -

Open and close and an opening for Granville West at Dunes, Noordhoek Beach, Cape Town, South Africa

Friday, May 18, 2007

Top Tips - Reading Charts

Photo:Cailean Macleod

Want to start learning about charts the easy way? Chart 5011, Symbols and Abbreviations used on Admiralty Charts is the booklet containing the key to the symbols you'll find on nautical charts. It shows international symbols for buoys, not only on UK charts but around the world. If you're interested in sea kayaking and have never used a chart, I recommend you buy a chart of the area you visit or intend to visit most often, (your "local" one) and then a detailed chart of an area that excites your interest; maybe some part of the Aleutian Islands, or the Bahamas, perhaps Wales or New Zealand, if that's not your local area. This is your "dream" chart. Add a copy of Chart 5011, and a set of local tide tables.

Start with the your local chart and use Chart 5011 to help you identify the symbols on it. Some of the features won't seem very useful to you, like maybe the nature of the sea bed some 150 feet beneath you, so note the ones that you're likely to be able to see such as prominent land features, rocks that are exposed at low tide, buoys and lights. Once you've learned more about what the symbols mean, use your "dream" chart to plan sample day trips, and note where the areas of potential danger are, such as tide races, kelp beds, steep cliffs and rocks that cover at high tide.

There's nothing really complex about charts. A little curiosity and you'll soon uncover all they can tell you!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Learning Styles

Learning styles, which is different to approaches to learning, is a term used to describe the attitudes and behaviours, which determine an individual's preferred way of learning. Most people are not aware of their learning style preferences. Learning styles are usually more intrinsic, part of the learners inherent personal traits, whereas learning approaches (deep, surface or strategic approaches to learning) are more externally driven by other factors, i.e. overload, assessment method, etc. This however does not mean that learning styles cannot be modified.

Performers can easily become bored and frustrated if the coaching method is only tapping into one type of learning style, as most groups will have students with a range of learning styles preferences.

Peter Honey and Alan Mumford (1992), two British psychologists developed a very popular Learning Styles Questionnaire, which categorised people by their preferred learning style into:

Activists - those who like to take direct action. They are enthusiastic and welcome new challenges and experiences. They are less interested in what has happened in the past or in putting things into a broader context. They are primarily interested in the here and now. They like to have a go, try things out and participate. They like to be the centre of attention.

So, in summary, Activists like:

• to think on their feet
• to have short sessions
• plenty of variety
• the opportunity to initiate
• to participate and have fun

Reflectors - those who like to think about things in detail before taking action. They take a thoughtful approach. They are good listeners and prefer to adopt a low profile. They are prepared to read and re-read and will welcome the opportunity to repeat a piece of learning.

So, in summary, Reflectors like:

• to think before acting
• thorough preparation
• to research and evaluate
• to make decisions in their own time
• to listen and observe

Theorists - those who like to see how things fit into an overall pattern. They are logical and objective systems people who prefer a sequential approach to problems. They are analytical, pay great attention to detail and tend to be perfectionists.

So, in summary, Theorists like:

• concepts and models
• to see the overall picture
• to feel intellectually stretched
• structure and clear objectives
• logical presentation of ideas

Pragmatists - those who like to see how things work in practice. They enjoy experimenting with new ideas. They are practical, down to earth and like to solve problems. They appreciate the opportunity to try out what they have learned/are learning.

So, in summary, Pragmatists like:

• to see the relevance of their work
• to gain practical advantage from learning
• credible role models
• proven techniques
• activities to be real

Coaches are learners too! - a coach's own preferred learning style will effect their behaviour as a coach. Understanding how our own preference effects our coaching behaviours is essential if we are to ensure our teaching can be modified in response to the learners needs.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Monday Morning Wave

Photo: Albe Falzon

"I wish I was four T's: "Too Tubed To Tell." - Danny Fernandez (surfer, father, slack-key guitarist)

Dave "Baddy" Treloar, a stand-out in Angourie's lineup since Morning of the Earth days, knows the inner magic of this new surfing reserve better than anyone.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Top Tips - Edging

Practice and experiment with your edge. Mastering edge control will improve your paddling. With the boat flat this gets a score of zero. Try then increasing the edge in three stages 1,2,3 and get used to holding the boat still on edge at each of the levels. Next you can try going smoothly from edge to edge e.g. edge 1 on the left to edge 2 on the right. You can do this either statically or on the move. Finally try turning the kayak in a number of ways using inside or outside edge or even keeping the boat flat. Try spending about 10 -15 minutes on this exercise and revisit it each time you go on the water.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Marmite Madness

Marmite is a British savoury spread made from yeast extract, a by-product of beer brewing. It is a sticky, brown paste with a distinctive, powerful taste that polarises consumer opinion. This is reflected in the company's marketing slogan: "Love it or hate it". The image on the front of the British jar shows a marmite (French, "large covered earthenware or metal cooking pot").Marmite was originally supplied in earthenware pots, but has long been sold in glass jars that approximate the shape of such pots.A thinner version in squeezable plastic jars was introduced in March 2006 and the help promote this Marmart was created.

Those of you that have never experienced this dark matter need to know that the gastronomic challenge it presents has divided familys, friends and the happiest of work places. Whilst there are plenty of critics there are those who love it with a passion.

Marmite is a magnificent substance, best served on toast but can add that certain something to most meals. However, I advise caution and ask people to be sensitive to those don't like the stuff as they may be the ones who control the food order!

Monday, May 07, 2007

Monday Morning Wave

Photo: Warren Hawke

"If surf camps and jet skis and foam and fiberglass and all the rest of the bull we are addicted to just went away, we'd be left with log riders and bodysurfers finding waves through word of mouth. We'd be left with people who just liked riding waves."
- Chris Malloy (surfer, filmmaker, surf ambassador)

A moment of natural purity at Spot M, New Zealand

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Top Tips - Gel-coat Repair

Photo: Brian Nystrom

Your glass-fiber kayak is looking a little scratched and scuffed? If it's the hull the appearance is not so important, so long as the gel-coat is intact. After all, you bought the kayak to use it, right? But if you've worn through the gel-coat then you need to repair it with a top-coat of gel-coat to seal the wear-point or the exposed glass fibres will begin to soak up water, deteriorate and also add weight to you kayak. The deck? Maybe you'd like to tidy away the scratch marks where you've scuffed it with your paddle, or the marks your spare paddle has made on the back deck. These you can tackle with a soft cloth and a rubbing compound or grinding paste from your local auto repair shop or glass-fibre dealer. Used for bringing paint to a high gloss, this works great to buff the surface of your kayak to a glowing shine again. All you need is some elbow power and some patience.

Photo: Brian Nystrom

You can learn about attending to more serious repairs to boats at Adam Bolonsky's blog

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Goal Setting - 2

A popular mnemonic device for goal-setting is to be SMART. That is, create goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time based. But, meeting these demands can often make individuals feel like they’re swimming in treacle. This quick overview of SMART goals will explain each requirement and offer a simple solution for creating effective goals.

Specific – First, your goal must have a precise purpose. If a goal is too vague or complex, it may do more harm than good. A goal like “to be a better climber” is vague and general, making execution difficult. A specific goal would be “to increase my climbing grade by two levels.” If a goal isn’t precise, it will make the goal-setting process cumbersome and confusing.
• Simple solution: Create goals that are clear and well defined.

Measurable – Good goals are quantifiable and quantified. But, this means more than just attaching a number to your goal. It must also be something that can be measured in the real world. Attitudes, beliefs and values aren’t measurable but achievements, performance feedback and quality of output are. Sometimes, making a goal measurable is simply a matter of how you word it. So, instead of creating a goal that is written to be immeasurable, such a, “to improve performance when navigating” set a goal that you can guage, and then set an expectation of what to look for. For example, a measurable goal would be “to achieve accuracy in navigating to within 1 metre of objective.” Remember, if goals aren’t measurable, how will you know if they've been reached or not.
• Simple solution: Design goals you can count.

Achievable – Make sure a goal makes sense in terms of past performance and future projections. Most individuals want to improve their performance over time but goals must be reachable to be effective. Otherwise, they are just words on paper. This element of goal setting is difficult, at best. Balancing the extremes between setting aggressive goals that aren’t realistic or creating meaningless, easy-to-reach goals is a challenge that can impact on motivation and personal productivity. In other words, a goal that is too high may de-motivate people, while a goal that is too low could be an insult to their efforts.
• Simple solution: Produce goals you can reach through diligence.

Relevant – A goal should be developmentally relevant for people and promote a meaningful contribution to their lives. A relevant goal has the individual’s best interests in mind and goes beyond simply maintaining the status quo. This aspect of goal setting ensures that they are a mechanism of improvement. Goals that aren’t relevant don’t help participants so end up wasting time and effort.
• Simple solution: Make sure your goals matter.

Time based – Goals aren’t worth much if there is never an end-game in mind, even if they meet the other SMART requirements. Goals that don’t have a deadline will rarely make it to the top of anyone’s priority list. However, this is often the part of goal setting most people leave behind. Think of it this way: creating a goal that doesn’t have a deadline is like running a race without a finish line. Not only is there no end in sight, but there is no way to set the pace and motivate a strong finish.
• Simple Solution: Give your goals deadlines.