How a ‘Road bike party’ can model learning

Video 1 – Road Bike Party

The last few weeks has been quite difficult for lovers of cycling. The USADA vs Lance Armstrong has been getting lots of headlines and left those that love the sport of bicycle riding disillusioned with the sport. However, the above video was shared with me by a friend. It shows an incredible level of skill riding a $12k+ road bike over obstacles more suitable to mountain bikes. Martyn Ashton (the rider) is a highly skilled rider who has been doing tricks on his bike for a very long time and it shows.

A few days after I first saw this, I was also sent the video below of the outtakes from the making of the Road bike party video. What I loved as I watched it was that as he took adventurous risks to learn/perform skills in new ways, even though he failed a number of times, he didn’t give up but tried again until he got it just right to put in his video. He didn’t just do the back flip out of the golf bunker but planned it and rehearsed it in a ‘safer’ environment before taking it on to the golf course. Even then, he stacked it big time … but still persisted until it worked. Watch the second video and see for yourself the difference between the two.

Video 2 – Road Bike Party – the outtakes

If the link between the two videos isn’t obvious yet, let me spell it out more clearly. Perfection in learning doesn’t just happen. The learner won’t get it right first time every time, but needs a safe environment to take a risk in when practicing and perfecting a skill – one that allows them to fail and try again (preferably without judgement).

I would hazard a guess that many of our students already learn this way in their own time as they learn to try new tricks on skateboards, surfboards, bikes, at dance lessons, when painting or something else they are interested in.

The question I need to ask is, how do we provide this in a school context? What do we need to do to get our students motivated to learn, willing to take a risk and fail and then persisting until they get it right?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

2 thoughts on “How a ‘Road bike party’ can model learning

  1. Great post Jay. You’ve talked about a really powerful learning process (personal failure > commitment to rehearsal > improvement) that should be more widely featured in school lessons outside of exam prep. I’d hazard a guess that it isn’t for a number of reasons – failure at school is usually seen through the lens of exams (where you usually only get one attempt); the effect of failure in front of peers (sometimes less than sympathetic peers); and the lack of quality rehearsal time in the time bite that is a lesson.
    I think you made a great point when you said that many kids are learning like this already – so why not use that as part of the solution? Use video games, skateboarding (or other motivational activities that rely on this learning mindset) early on in our programs to model that approach. Then apply the same process to the more traditional sports – or in theory class when examining non movement issues requiring a refinement of thinking before a final presentation.
    This obviously doesn’t fit with “traditional” PE assessment – but I think if you move away from traditional teaching, then everything else needs to move too. I’m happy to explore this further – maybe at a future #pegeekmeet? 🙂

  2. It’s interesting that you’ve used Skateboarding as an example. That’s an example that I have thought of previously. The fact that skateboarders keep trying new things over and over again until they get it ‘right’ impresses me. That they don’t give up even though they’re at risk of injuring themselves big time when they make mistakes. We have to be able to learn from that.

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