Personally I think you can teach or your can't, so not all volunteers can successfully be put in that position, especially socially awkward ones.  And let's face it, we are a family of bike misfits :)  That being said, I think the Demonstrate, Return & Repeat method is best solution.,_Return_and_Repeat


Jonathan Morrison
Executive Director
Salt Lake City Bicycle Collective
2312 S. West Temple
Salt Lake City, UT 84115
w: 801-328-2453
c: 801-688-0183
f: 801-466-3856

The mission of the Salt Lake City Bicycle Collective is to promote cycling as an effective and sustainable form of transportation and as a cornerstone of a cleaner, healthier, and safer society. The Bicycle Collective provides refurbished bicycles and educational programs to the community, focusing on children and lower income households.

On Mon, Aug 8, 2011 at 6:55 AM, <> wrote:
One can also show how to do a procedure, then return the part of the bike to the original condition and let the student try. I agree that showing first then letting the student do then having the student teach is a way to make the process stick

-----Original Message-----
From: james bledsoe <>
To: The Think Tank <>
Sent: Sun, Aug 7, 2011 5:38 pm
Subject: Re: [TheThinkTank] How to Teach "Hands-off"

hand-off /hands-on 
a main obstacle of learning anything
is access to tools
one of the best parts of teaching bikes
one on one
is that there are almost always
two of every thing
one can demonstrate how to get a peddle off
hand the wrench to the client who can then
take off the other

the best part is when it is busy and a client has just learned to  say  change  a tire
and a new client walks in with the same issue 
i like to get the first client to help the second 
this is the third step in learning
the first being watching
second doing
third showing some else

of course there are other times when advanced skills need to be employed 
time is short and turning a client lose on a problem that will most likely
frustrate and demoralize them  it is better to just do it explain and get the bike out the door 
like a badly bent wheel  that should be replaced  but there just isn't one.

From: Geoffrey B <>
To: The Think Tank <>
Sent: Sunday, August 7, 2011 9:59 AM
Subject: Re: [TheThinkTank] How to Teach "Hands-off"

bike pirates is doing the same workshop we did in bike bike 2010 in two weeks time. please remind me then and ill send out a document entailing all workshop logistics.
On 2011-08-07 12:33 PM, "Clifford McCarten [B!KE]" <> wrote:

Hi Geoff,
I wasn't at that workshop but I have one phrase that has always really helped to remind myself and my volunteers about hands off teaching.
Since people come with such a vast difference in skill levels, mechanical abilities/comprehension/strength, and cognitive abilities, it's been nearly impossible in my experience to say to the volunteers, universally, "this is how you teach X".
Instead, our mandate is to ensure that all users of the space leave B!KE having:
a) Done something, and
b) Learned something.
This changes a lot depending on who we are working with, but if it's adhered to, it ensures that there will be some worthwhile experiences for even the most reticent/challenged user of the service.

A further way that I try to encourage this (especially among some of the volunteers who tend to be more hands-on) is to suggest that, in situations where the volunteer is working one-on-one with someone, or where there's a two-person job going on, the volunteers should always take the less "active" role (i.e., steadying the bike will the other person takes off a pedal; holding brakes in the correct position while the other person fiddles with the cable).

The other challenge of mitigating volunteer efforts (esp. older men) is to stop them from jumping in on every bit of heavy lifting / torquing required. This problem is compounded by the fact that some folks will give up far too early if they know someone will do it for them, so we have a tongue-in-cheek rule that we need to see your biceps shaking with effort a bit before jumping in. This has the two-fold benefit of showing some of the members (often middle aged women, in our space) that they can be way stronger than they think they are and are able to be rougher with things than they think they can, while holding back some of the over eager volunteers.

A practical suggestion is to get a chalkboard or large poster drawing out exploded parts and abstract concepts (BBs, hubs, brake toe-in, etc). A good drawing of how a hub works has made a huge difference in our ability to teach it hands off.

Hope these points help. It's something we don't talk a lot about, but is, I think, probably one of the most important features of a good shop. I've heard too many stories from people coming into our shop about other experiences they've had where it was primarily a "let me show you how to use that wrench, little girl" situation. A quality hands-off teaching technique goes a huge way to supporting the general accessibility and cross-demographic interest from the community, not to mention encouraging the volunteers to become better teachers and mechanics as they get better at explaining abstract concepts.


B!KE: The Peterborough Community Bike Shop
336 Rubidge St, Peterborough ON
(705) 775-7227

On 07/08/2011 12:08 PM, Geoff Heath wrote:

> I think I put this request out 6 months ago but I figure I'll try again;
> Anyone have notes fr...
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