Practices & Ethos

(All staff are expected to read the ICS handbook. If you don’t have an up to date version you can request one from Jae, he will send you it in PDF format)

Here is a brief summing up of our practices and our ethos:

We have three main objectives: 

1. Firstly, we look after the students’ safety and welfare. This means not exposing them to unreasonable risks, and ensuring that they get appropriate attention when they are physically or emotionally injured. If a child reports any distress more than that to be expected in the normal training procedures, you must inform the principal immediately. 

 2. Secondly, we strive to increase their self-confidence and self esteem. We achieve this by presenting challenges which we help them meet by encouragement; congratulating them when they do well, being patient when they fail.

 3. Finally we aim to teach them to sail or increase their sailing and seamanship abilities, and encourage an appreciation of the natural environment. We help them achieve as high a standard as is possible during the course, whilst maintaining a strict policy of giving awards only when the relevant level has been achieved.

We achieve these objectives by working within a structure with strict times (start times, meal times, etc.), in an organised, disciplined, friendly, relaxed atmosphere.

How we communicate with the students is of vital importance. The way we do it affects not just how successful we are in transferring information, but more importantly, the way in which the students develop their ‘life skills’ (self reliance, problem solving, self discipline, and so on). Eric Berne was the first to realise the importance of the way in which we communicate with each other, not just by the words we use, but also the tone. A frown, a laugh, a gesture, they all effect the way in which information is received. Berne used the term ‘transactional analysis’ for the study of the way in which we communicate. It is an interesting and important subject for everyone, but especially important to those teaching children.

The psychiatrist Thomas Harris introduced the idea that we all (adults and children alike) have within us ‘parent’adult’ and ‘child’ and we transact communications from one of these within us, to one of these within the person with whom we are communicating. I place a tremendous importance on staff communicating to children on an ‘adult-to-adult’ basis; from your adult to their adult – speaking to them as you would an adult – not talking ‘down’ to them. Adult-to-adult conversations are information seeking and information giving. Those children who are used to adults (e.g. parents and teachers) talking to them in this way will have a well-developed ‘adult’; that is, they will feel confident about assessing a question and giving an answer, or asking a question when they need information. Children who have parents and teachers who do not seek information by asking questions and valuing the answers will have a little-developed, or weak, ‘adult’.  When we (ICS staff) talk to children on an ‘adult-to-adult’ basis, we help to develop the children’s ‘adult’; and thereby help develop their self-confidence, their self-worth, and their ability to communicate.

Congratulatory rhetoric is adult-to-child and that is important too (we all need it!). Admonitions are ‘parent-to-child’ and are never useful and often damaging.

I place great importance on skippers feeling that they can approach any staff member at any time with any ‘adult-to-adult’ question, and when they do so, they will get a proper ‘adult-to-adult’ response, perhaps with a bit of ‘adult-to-child’ but with nothing ‘parent’ in the response. For example the question  “I’ve found this glove, what shall I do with it?” might get the response “Well done,” (the congratulatory ‘adult-to-child’) “Could you put it in the lost property box over there” (the ‘adult-to-adult’).  The response: “I told you this morning about lost property. Have you forgotten already?” would be a  ‘parent-to-child’ response. Please try to avoid ‘parent-to-child’ transactions.

On a practical note, remember that some children sail slow boats. The RYA ‘Oppies’ for example are much heavier and slower than down-to-weight class Optimists. Remind the skippers that are sailing RYA ‘Oppy’ boats, often, that their boats are inherently slow, and congratulate them when they sail well, rather than sail fast.

We have a policy that everyone on the premises during the course are students or staff. Parents of students and friends of staff distract both students and staff in their work. A unique benefit to students on ICS Easter courses at Papercourt is that everyone on the premises (in fact pretty well everyone in sight) is either a student, or a staff member involved in serving students’ needs.

GENERAL POLICIES – a quick check list for instructors

Get to know the course names of the children in your group
Talk adult-to-adult (information giving and seeking) and adult-to-child (congratulatory)
Be clear in your instructions so that the student knows what is expected of him
Praise often, don’t criticise.
Set achievable objectives
At all times, know where all your children are and what they are doing
Check children in your group have sufficient clothing / protection for weather conditions
Check buoyancy aids before going afloat
Check Buoyancy bags in boats and that masts are tied in securely
Send in capsizers (unless warm and no stress in which case they can sail on of course)
Send in children who are physically or psychologically injured
Send/bring in individual children or groups who are cold
Give team points for trying and achieving
Provide golden moments for under achievers
Use correct terms – avoid simplified or over complicated terms
Don’t swear or threaten