Now the serious side of bridge
IMPROVISATION is ESSENTIAL
As with any sport, the initial challenge for a bridge coach would be to keep the pupils` enthusiasm going until they reach competition standard. The next challenge is to to bring the best out of the pupils as quickly as possible. Impossible to generalise about the best methods. The teacher must invariably improvise after taking into account the ages, abilities and expectations of the students. But also the availabilty and capabilities of teaching staff. A point that is often overlooked.
To illustrate the meaning of IMPROVISE, here is a description of my Pyramid system:
The PYRAMID method
I have to admit it was more by accident and necessity that I developed a teaching method that allowed me to take on as many students as wanted to learn the game. A method that I have refined to the extent that it can be used as a template for any qualified bridge teacher to SINGLEHANDEDLY start a schools project in a bridge desert devoid of suitable coaches. Where there is potentially a need to satisfy the demands of 100 or more schoolchildren wanting to start learning at the same time..
Not impossible. Far from it. It actually works
THE MAGIC FORMULA:
- The talented pupils become teachers.
- The most promising and advanced pupil “teachers” then teach the teachers to create a pyramid
It is as easy as that. Yet this simple method nevertheless has enormous advantages over conventional teaching methods viz:
- Very young children enjoy being taught by teachers who are only slighty older than themselves. Not least because they are less nervous of making mistakes.
- The extra responsibility of allowing, for example, a child of ten to mentor a child of seven encourages and improves the confidence of the 10 year old teacher. Wth the result that he/she then punches above their weight in competitions.
- The pupil teachers are unwittingly being asked to keep practising the basics of bridge*. Practise makes perfect. And this is the perfect way to practise without such sessions becoming boring.
- No teaching manuals are required. The pupil teachers effectively replace the manuals
- There is no limit to the number of tiers of teachers in this pyramid. More advanced youngsters can teach the intermediate level. And, in turn, the most suitable of those can teach the beginners.
- All pupils learn exactly the same system. Any player can then partner anyone else.
- The pupil teachers can empathize with relative beginners who are only a couple of years younger than themselves. They all speak the same language. The same jargon. Dare I say a gifted 10 year old is usually better and more successful at explaining Jacoby transfers to an 8 year old than an experienced member of the local bridge club
* As this Academy is in Spain, let`s take the example of a teacher coaching eight Spanish twelve year olds to a standard where they can play in adult club competitions. The bridge teacher can then take on a group of Spanish beginners to learn the game by allocating one of those experienced 12 year olds to each table of four pupils. Thus, when the time comes for the group to learn that Jacoby transfer, I can comfortably and effectively teach 32 beginners at the same time with the help of those 8 pupil teachers. Without even the need for me to have learned Spanish - provided those 12 year old helpers had been concentrating during their English lessons at school!!!
All I have to do is move from one table to another. Helping the young teachers to give the correct instructions in the most comprehensive fashion.
BIDDING BOX CONNUNDRUM:
My teaching methods are based on the principle that pupils need a good sense of logic to master the bidding systems. Unfortunately that principle falls at the first hurdle. The moment the student opens his bidding box.
Can someone please explain to me why boxes contain cards that don't mean what they say. Goodness knows how much time teachers waste trying to explain to young and old alike that bidding 7NT actually means they must make 13 tricks.
My bidding boxes for the beginners therefore have "PLUS SIX" indelibly marked on each card.
For every brainteaser in bridge there is, thankfully, a logical solution.