I am in the process of creating a unicycle teachers course. It will take people with no prior experience on a unicycle and turn them into unicycle teachers. they should gain knowledge not only in unicycling, but also in related fields - psychology, anatomy and so on.
I wanted to know whether any of you has information about courses like that. what topics should a unicycle teacher have knowledge in, other then riding? are there research papers on unicycling that you know about? anything could help.
I’ll keep you all posted (if you want) once this gets underway
You don’t just train trainers. What is your background and skill level?
How long will the course be? Taking a beginner and turning them into a qualified teacher is not something that is done in a few days. Also teaching someone to be a good teacher of something as tricky as Unicycling is not easy. Its takes experience teaching to know when to correct and when to lay back and let them learn on their own. You can’t teach balance and muscle memory, it only comes from ‘doing the miles’.
I’m a Computer Software Trainer, a Martial Arts Asst instructor, and have probably taught somewhere around 200 people to juggle in the last 30 years, and some experience as a Snow ski instructor and basic guitar teaching. Over the years I have picked up skills and ideas from everyone who has trained me. Just a few of the things I have learned. I flew hang-gliders, competed in Gymnastics in high-school. I also used to surf, water ski and ride a road sport motorcycle. In short I have been learning things all my life.
A unicycle teacher should know some good warm up stretches, stretches to improve flexibility and promote muscle balance. Setup and preventative maintenance of a Uni. Some drills/skills to help improve balance, relaxation and body awareness. Also some knowledge about conscious (trying too hard) vs unconscious (relaxed) learning would be helpful. They should also know how to teach people to fall off Uni’s without injuring themselves. (bail early and let the uni go). Running out a UPD and how to correctly do a forward shoulder roll would be be added bonus to new riders.
Those are just a few things that come to mind. What is your goal in teaching teachers? Are you trying to spread the sport, or make some money or both?
Teach them to adjust seatposts- this will be one of the main duties. Make sure they can get them straight and get the seat height right for new riders. Teachers must be able to relate to people and communicate with them in words they can understand- demonstrating stuff is helpful too as a visual aid. When teaching children it helps if you have not forgotten what it is like to be young. Having a lot of energy and loving unicycles is a big help as I doubt as many students would be successful with an unenthusiastic teacher. The more you teach the more you learn about teaching. Your students teach you as you go- it is amazing to have taught someone and you can watch them teach other people without putting any more energy in. Being a unicyclist for years (instead of not being a unicyclist) you will know vast amounts of the problems associated with learning unicycling and even things that sound obvious and simple to you will possibly be useful to people learning. Non riders could definitely teach unicycling, but I reckon they should learn to ride before teaching as it will enhance their understanding of the balance point.
the course will be around 140 hours, half of that will be learning to unicycle and get practical teaching experience. as part of the training they will learn to handle other balance “objects” such as rola bola and slackrope.
The future teachers are expected to qualify level 4 of the IUF. The course will span over 4-5 months (once a week). They will be expected to train on their own during that time to be able to reach the rather high goal I set here.
The other half of the course will deal with anatomy, psychology, teaching children and other topics - all those courses will be given to them by experts in those fields. But those experts know little about unicycling, so I am looking for information that will help them relate their teachings to the world of the unicyclist. any help here will be much appreciated. I know that in Japan unicycling is a big part of school activity - there must be research out there that i haven’t found or in a language i can’t (yet) understand.
FWIW, I think the “look where you want to go” rule of thumb that is a universal mantra for athletes from unicyclists to race car drivers, is also a “life lesson” that applies to the goals we set for ourselves. For example if you want to be a successful entrepreneur, then “see” in your mind’s eye where you will be in a year, in two years, 5 years, and 20 years. Keeping your eyes on the prize dramatically increases your chances of getting there (but you can’t think of the material rewards, that never works. Think of the accomplishments. And enjoy the road along the way).
I’m saying all this because it’s late at night, I’m groggy, and when I hear you say psychology it brought these thoughts to mind, which I thought might be interesting to integrate into your lessons.
I don’t have much advice to help you with, but I have been a teacher at 9 Japanese schools (preschool through middle school). It’s true that nearly every Japanese elementary school has unicycles, but that’s where unicycling in education ends.
The teachers don’t teach unicycling. Most of the teachers don’t know anything about unicycles or unicycling. Any teachers who ever knew how to unicycle generally only did when they were in elementary school and stopped afterwards. Aside from supplying the unicycles, Japanese schools are completely hands-off. They don’t even maintain them once they get them; nearly every elementary school I’ve been to has plenty of unicycles, but they were all in terrible disrepair, had no air in the tires, and many not even safe to ride.
I do know of many unicycle clubs in this country, but none of them are school clubs, they just rent school gyms.
(Sorry, didn’t mean to go on a rant)
As far as research, someone or some group in the federal Japanese Ministry of Education used research showing that unicycling improves balance (duh), and this is why unicycles are in nearly all elementary schools. It was a federal push.
That research is most likely in Japanese and was probably conducted by someone at a Japanese university. I don’t have the resources or the reading ability to find and understand academic literature in this language, though.
Basically this is a really long post saying that yes, Japanese use unicycles in elementary schools and that they probably have research on it, but it’s probably in Japanese
I can contribute a few opinions though. I’ve been helping tons of kids learn to unicycle while working at these elementary schools, and the top two things i would teach unicycle teachers is
Make sure kids don’t become too dependent on walls, fences, etc or they will never get away from them. Also, I’ve found the best support technique is to lead kids by holding their hand and supporting their elbow with your other hand.
Simple maintenance! Make sure they teach kids the importance of proper seat height and tire pressure. Correcting these two things makes learning to ride a million times easier.
Make sure the anatomy teaching is relevant. Hopefully the anatomist can figure out what muscles are fired during unicycling, how to concentrate on these areas during stretches, and also make people aware of common unicycling ailments (e.g. rolled ankles, knee injuries, and inner thigh chafing The Japanese clubs I mentioned earlier always do warm-up stretches, but half of the stretches are completely ineffective or irrelevant to unicycling (e.g. neck stretches). They mostly just go through the stretching routine that the club leaders learned during Japanese public education, 30 years ago.
In my experience with kids in schools and community, unicycling is learnt not taught. No need for individuals masquerading as ‘unicycle teachers’, more value in providing easy access to a bunch of uni’s, an appropriate place to learn and lots of encouragement.
I thought Rowan really added some good point about what it is to be a true instructor. There is an art to teaching. For instance how to balance a class for the slow and fast learners.
There is a responsibility to teaching… Since I used to be Gymnast I could do flips pretty well off of diving boards. Single, one and a half, double front flips. There was a kid, maybe 15 who was doing 1 and 1/2s off the three meter board. That means you go in feet first. He was doing them really well so I encouraged him to try a double. I told him just to hold his tuck a second longer and spot the water instead of the sky… so he tried it, held his tuck too long and did the equivalent of a belly flop with his face… Both his eyes were swollen shut… Luckily his face just needed some time for the swelling to go down.
I felt TERRIBLE because I had encouraged him to try it and had told him ‘how’ to do it. I learned a lot from that ‘lesson’
Then there was the young guy who worked for me and I encouraged him to go over and ask a ‘bikini model’ out for a date. The whole table of girls laughed at him in a fairly crowded ice cream store. Yikes… Felt bad about that one as well.
Indeed unicycling is more learnt than taught, but for kids, having an instructor is a great idea.
I guess it depends what the purpose of the classes is.
-If it’s a class for kids who really want to learn unicycling, then yeah, not much teaching is required; just give them unicycles and let them go at it.
-If it’s a class for parents who want their kids to learn unicycling, many kids are going to be either obstinate or very quick to give up.
-If this becomes part of compulsory education (like public school P.E. class), then you better have a good teacher, or 90% of the kids are going to spend the time sleeping or launching spit wads at each other.
From my experience in elementary schools here in Japan, many MANY more students try and actually learn to unicycle by watching me riding around and doing trials stunts (which gets them excited) and actually start riding much quicker when I give them tips or a helping hand.
Remember, kids have super short attention spans. Unicycling requires patience, concentration, and dedication. Last I checked, these aren’t in the average child’s repertoire.
For kids, it’s all about encouragement and knowing the right 2 or 3 bits of advice to get them from just flopping around to riding with confidence.
Hmm… nope. In my experience, kids have vast reserves of patience, concentration and dedication. Not everything adults, especially teacher adults present tap into those reserves.
As an example, I lent 20 or so uni’s of varying sizes to a local primary school mid last year. It was left completely up to the kids to give uni a go or not, I just showed them a couple of KH videos at the start so they had an idea of what was possible. Almost the whole school unicycles now (6 years old to 12 years old) with the kids riding before school, lunch and after school - always a rush to get a uni! Some kids picked it up quickly, others took a lot longer, some have come and gone and come back again, still trying, others it’s not for them. Lots of great self and peer learning, peer support etc along the way… and all of that without any ‘unicycle teacher’ BS. My role was just to turn up whenever I could and provided support and encouragement.
Regarding how much instruction is genuinely useful, there’s a great snippet of KH on youtube giving his ‘how to uni’ rundown. It lasts all of 30 seconds or thereabouts…
Related to your comment above, what was interesting in the school scenario is that some adults shared the same view as you initially - that this or that kid would give up in no time because of their perceived inadequacies. It turned out to be a valuable lesson for those adults to see the kids work away at learning to ride, initially being scared and doubting it was humanly possible to ride, crash and crash and crash, hour after hour, slowly improving, and finally riding off, ecstatic at their personal achievement, celebrated by all the other kids.
Don’t misinterpret what I’m saying - it’s great if the OP is wanting to grow uni. My own view however is that ‘unicycle teachers’ make about as much sense as ‘walking teachers’ or ‘bicycle teachers’
It was interesting to see the different ideas this thread already hold, especially those of lunicycle.
I also think that unicycling is a lot like walking. When I explain to parents how their kid will learn, I give them a few pointers and in the end tell them they should treat his like they did when he learnt to walk as a baby - encourage and wow him. sentences like “you should use more balance” don’t really help to learn.
Unicycling is not yet a very evolved sport here in Israel. In my opinion, the best way to spread the love quickly is by getting it into schools and after school activities - and that requires “teachers”.
Now, it might be true that such a teacher could be, as lunicycle implies, someone who read this thread. But wouldn’t it be better id the teacher could inspire them by himself, if he could teach them more then just to ride forward, if he would make group moves of more then 2 persons, if he would get the group to learn hockey as a team.
Now since I believe such thing are necessary, why not teach him a few more helpful “skills” on the way - like child psychology and anatomy?
Please don’t turn this thread into “i think teachers are necessary or not” debate - i’d rather hear your thoughts on what should be taught…
I am also a professional trainer (I teach programming) I have taught maths, skiing and … unicycling!
this is amusing since my skill level in unicycling is very low
IMHO mature adults are more in need of someone to teach them than fearless kids.
and , yes, I am interested in everything that relates to unicycling learning.
You should contact Connie Cotter.(constance dot cotter at gmail dot com). I’ve always been a bit sceptical about unicycling teachers too, but according to her, it can very much accelerate how quickly kids learn to ride - she said she can teach most people to ride in some insanely short length of time, like a couple of hours or something - I can’t remember the details, but it was way less than I’ve ever seen anyone learn in. She’s taught a very large number of riders (probably thousands by now) and I guess she knows what she is doing.
If there were as many people riding unicycles as there are people walking, then ‘unicycle teachers’ would not make sense. We are in need of ‘bicycle teachers’, and also perhaps ‘bicycle law reform artists’ to reverse the crazy trend of making helmets compulsory to help get bicycle numbers up. Far too many people drive cars and are blind to the possibility that they too could travel sustainably and have fun along the way.
Back to the teaching topic- after the public learning workshop I was reminded of a basic neccessity. You need a good learning location! Flat ground with a hand-friendly wall, fence, or rail is ideal. Concrete or wood is best. Grass can be used but it will make learning harder on narrow tires. Shelter from the wind/sun is nice and often school netball courts make good flat surfaces.
I think encouraging students often is helpful to get them through the frustrating stages. Remind them that it is hard for everyone and that if they are persistent enough they can succeed like anyone else. Any small success is a success and positive comments leave students feeling good about themselves and wanting to acheive more.
I can’t tell you much about other subjects to teach as I have a one track mind. I wouldn’t mind adding some new variety like hockey and combining other skills like juggling perhaps.
I’m yet to see Connie perform her magic teaching tricks- she is welcome to come to the teaching workshop tomorrow but she must leave her clown-hating attitude behind, because clowns are welcome to ride whatever they want including unicycles in New Zealand. We want all learners to feel welcome regardless of their clown/non-clown status.
Are you intending to do this as a profitable venture, or just as an interesting exercise? I doubt you will find many people who actually WANT to teach unicycling so formally . And even fewer who would pay you for the privilege.
I find that kids (and adult learners) just want to be shown the basics and given a slow push in the right direction. I would add a few safety tips to that as well.
So as an occasional teacher at the local club, I only need a very few basics. I get them up, balanced and moving. They seem to pick up further tricks then, entirely by themselves.
My 0.02. . …
I’m still a newb. Definitely not even close to level 4, nor even all the formal skills for level 1. Thankfully, that’s not necessary to be a unicycle teacher, or my kids wouldn’t be learning for a long, long time. As it is, since starting unicycling last Spring (self-taught, but with lots of YouTube etc.), I’ve now got my 10 year old riding pretty competently, and the 8 and 11 year olds are starting as well.
I would have loved to have somebody help me learn, and I don’t doubt that it’s probably easier to learn with coaching from an experienced rider/teacher than without. But given my experience, I’m more in the “unicycling is learned, not taught” camp.