Richard discovers a theory that helps him decide on the best approach to him learning and improving his riding ability and confidence.
We all believe that finding the right riding instructor for ourselves is paramount in achieving our personal goals and future development Richard discovers the Rosenthal Effect just by chance. Whilst on the search for a new coach/instructor and reflecting on all his personal riding needs, Richard came across a web page that discussed the benefits of the Rosenthal Effect.
The Rosenthal Effect, also known as the Pygmalion effect (with reference to the play by George Bernard Shaw) is the effect by which the greater expectation placed upon a person the better they perform. The study shows that teachers, who expect high but realistic levels of achievement from students, receive higher levels of achievement, where as teachers who expect only a lower level of performance receive exactly that.
So, how is this relevant to Richard and his riding?
Rich explains how this theory gave him a better insight as to what motivates him to achieve better results
As I was reading the Rosenthal Effect paper, it reminded me of my early riding experiences and a yard owner who ran the riding school where I did my BHS stage 1 training, he informed me on our first meeting that I would never be a natural rider (even before he had seen me on a horse) I went on to fail my BHS stage 1 riding exam, however after changing instructors shortly after my failure I managed to pass the stage 1 riding exam - I put this down to the instructor believing in me, and telling me I would have to put lots of hard work in ( something that I have never shied away from) and they would support my development and desire to improve my riding ability.
This approach definitely works for me, I need the support of a positive approach, somebody who clearly believes that I can improve and succeed. I am very much aware that some students will benefit from working with competent instructors who work from applying a negative spin to their expectations in the knowledge that this sometimes drive students harder to succeed in achieving good results, but for me personally I would rather have the support of a positive instructor who has the belief I can succeed rather than having an instructor who believes that by seriously criticising my beliefs and ambitions by simply looking at my current performance and failings as a rider, rather than the improved rider I could be in the future with their help, support and motivation.
Over the years, with only a couple of exceptions, I have been very lucky in finding supportive instructors who believe in my ability to learn and apply a positive expectation for me to go on a journey of continuous improvement, how ever small. I totally believe that every one who is taking up riding lessons should question themselves as to what they want to achieve from their riding and their expectations of the best approach required from a coach to enable them to get there, it shouldn't matter at what level you start, it's the approach from the learning environment that you are reliant on to get you there. If I had I stuck with an instructor who had no belief in me and my future desire to become a proficient rider then I am sure I would have found my riding a very soul destroying activity and probably would have given up on my dream and what a shame that would have been - one less passionate person who simply wants to become competent in something he loves.
I guess the only thing that saddens me at this point is that at the age of eleven I failed the 11+ exam and went to a secondary modern school where there was little expectation of success placed on us. As a result this initial experience of being in an environment where there was little expectation of me to succeed stayed with me, so imagine the shock when I was finally informed in 2005 by an educational psychologist that I actually had an IQ of 136, I retook my GCSE English at Sheffield college and past. If only I had been informed at the age of eleven by someone who believed in me and my future possibilities that I had an IQ that meant my potential for learning was good, this said I found horse riding in 2005 - and now know with the right instruction by the right instructor I can be successful in my chosen sport.
My current coach, Katy, expects me to improve all the time; as a result I work hard to make sure that both our expectations as an instructor and as a rider are not misplaced!
You can read more about the Rosenthal effect here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pygmalion_effect
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