Multiple Approaches to Instruction
Bridge instruction provides the necessity and opportunity for both approaches. Recall of learned conventions is required to facilitate the bidding process; however, once play of the hand begins, solving the puzzle of how to acquire the contracted number of tricks or, for defenders, how to keep the opponents from doing so, requires the use of active memory, constant mental engagement, prediction based upon laws of probability, development and implementation of an offensive or defensive strategy.
In addition to organized classes, individualized instruction is provided regularly, based upon a specific set of hands played in a designated game. The game of Duplicate Bridge is in itself educational. Duplicate bridge, a game of strategy and tactics, is part science, part math, part logic, part reason. In addition, it requires partnership cooperation and problem solving. While many think of bridge as sitting around the kitchen table, dealing a hand, playing it and then dealing another hand, Duplicate Bridge is quite different. In Duplicate Bridge, the hands that are played in any given session (which nominally takes three hours to conduct) are dealt ONLY ONCE. And they are dealt electronically such that there is a digital record of the hands. All players in the session (which nominally may be as few as 20 or as many as 100 at the PCBC) play the very same hands in competition.
Our approach to instruction is multi-faceted. Recognizing that students learn differently and that for many seniors, learning new concepts and applying those in playing the game can be very difficult, our teachers employ numerous teaching strategies. The didactic teaching approach, in which information is presented by the teacher who then provides guided opportunities for application of the information, may be the approach most familiar and comfortable to senior learners, since this was the approach most often used by teachers when today’s senior citizens were in school themselves. In addition, research on modes of effective teaching indicates that many learners are best taught through inductive rather than deductive methods. Asking learners to solve problems rather than to regurgitate memorized information can be very effective and is most-often more engaging.
Practice, practice, practice!
Afterward, both paper and digital copies of the hands are provided to all participants for their use in analyzing their own play and for use by mentors as a continuing educational tool. Each player also receives an email with their results, as well as an analysis of selected hands by professional bridge players. A certified bridge teacher regularly conducts a weekly lesson during which players may ask questions and review the hands played in previous sessions.
All of these tools are essential elements of the education process employed by the PDBC.
Carl Nelson mentors players with a post-game analysis.