Sunday, January 13, 2008

Fool's Errand

In my post "Chasing Stars" I wrote that I felt chasing stars was a "fool's errand". Based on feedback in both the blog comments and feedback delivered in person, I think I may not have been clear and led people to misunderstand what I was criticizing.
I was not saying that pursuing training, continually learning new skills, or any other means of growing as a paddler (or as a person) was foolish. Nor was I discounting the fact that some people learn better with formal instruction or by following a highly structured regimen or by watching videos or by whatever method works. Continual learning is highly valued in my book. Having spent years teaching, I also understand that people learn best in wildly different ways.
I was questioning two things:

  1. The wisdom of pursuing "ranks" as a recreational paddler. My answer here is personal. I do not see the benefit of spending the extra time and money to be evaluated and ranked. Other people find value in the evaluations and the ranking. I do not understand it, but I respect it.

  2. The value of a ranking system that is based on high stakes testing. This does not diminish the difficulty of the tests, nor the achievement of passing the tests. It just reflects my belief that a high stakes test is not an ideal way to evaluate a person's skills. I know people, myself included, who excel at taking tests without learning much beyond how to pass the test. I also know people who actually learn the material and choke under the pressure of taking a test.

1 comment:

  1. My feelings exactly. Human nature is to rank and compete at every activity. Hence we have high stakes fishing contests and the BCU star system. Although I continue to improve, learn new rolls, and help to instruct others, I still view sea kayaking (and fishing to a certain extent) as a relaxing way to get some great exercise and enjoy the outdoors and the water.