The Evolution Of A Duck

By Lela Simon
Published on Dec 30th, 2008

In the moment that a baby duck is first hatched it looks out from its shell- and decides who its mother is. From that moment, all the way though it’s little duckling hood, it has one job; Follow momma and do and say what she does. Follow without question, or argument, and never ever follow anyone else.

This is an evolutionary behavior, one that insured the survival of ducks, despite the fact that they are relatively helpless creatures. The value of the unquestioning duckling is, well, unquestionable (for survival). They follow momma, they stay out of trouble, they avoid danger. They can learn the basic skills that they need to survive quickly and efficiently. They have very little to distract them from those survival lessons.

If you look at a new student through this duckling lens you can see a lot of similarities. Most students find a single teacher that they connect with and are satisfied. They seldom take the time or energy to reach past their own “mother duck”. I have seen this with exercise classes- if a substitute comes in to teach, people who have come all the way to the gym to take class will turn around and go home. The substitute instructor, in spite of being perfectly qualified, isn’t momma duck!

In the natural world, the mother duck decides that her ducklings are past the “follow me” stage, and are ready to be pushed out of the nest. The fledglings, then, become juveniles and they now mix with the rest of the flock. Now more than just Mum has an influence.

So, how about you, instructor, teacher, Momma Duck? Are your little ducklings following you around in nice little rows? Are they carefully quacking just the way you quack? I was astonished by the people leaving the gym when there was a substitute. Then, I heard the original instructor (very politely) bashing everything the substitute instructor had taught. Do you have a need for your ducklings to follow only you?

Whenever you are teaching, you are in a competitive business. There are a million other people out there teaching what you teach, only a little differently. Saying this won’t make me popular with the marketing set, as it goes against every sales rule in the book- but DON’T CREATE DUCKLINGS. Teaching a class full of unquestioning automatons will not make them better learners and it won’t make you a better instructor.

Encouraging your students to find their own way home- their own true north, makes them fit- mentally, physically and spiritually. Teachers who are able to handle thinking, creating, and fit students enrich themselves as well. This teaching style opens the way for healthy communication that will enhance learning for all involved.

So how do we make thinking, creating, and fit ducks out of ducklings? I’d like to hear from you. What do you think? How do you introduce this larger worldview to your students?

Filed under Philosophy and Opinion

Author Bio :: Lela Simon

As an ACE certified Personal Trainer, Lela Simon quickly realized that while exercise was an incredibly powerful force for change in the life and for the health of her clients, without a total lifestyle management system, many people would not achieve ultimate wellness.

After searching for the ideal fit, she settled on a dual certification from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and Columbia University in Health Counseling. She used the knowledge that she gained and her experience with mediation and the culinary arts to craft a well-rounded, holistic approach to lifestyle and fitness.

Since 2003 Lela has made it her lifes work to help people become healthier, happier and more balanced. Her online radio show, website, articles, place on the board of the MALC, and answers have all served to spread her message.

Other Articles by Lela Simon

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