Learning to sail: a cautionary note
Maybe most sailors agree that people learn in different ways, one-size-fits-all advice does not, and most people learn best from a variety of sources, practice, and feedback. Beyond that point, it seems we lose consensus very quickly.
-- Some people do well learning mostly on their own mostly on small boats; yet some don't do so well on dinghies or have their own reasons for starting on something bigger.
-- Some people find pleasure in being in a structured learning environment and some people detest being in a classroom or structured learning situation.
-- Some people find lessons expensive, and some people find that cramming a bunch of lessons together without lots of practice time in between shortchanges them on an opportunity to digest the lessons, experiment with different techniques, and come up with questions and ideas. Others get a good feeling out of "drinking from the firehose" and seeing how fast they can come up to speed.
-- Some people can sail by themselves in uncrowded, protected areas on inexpensive boats where the cost of a bad experiment is minimal. Others have panicky families, challenging sailing environments, expensive boats, judgmental spouses, or even more expensive neighbors' boats very close to hand, where the cost of a mistake can be much more than the cost of lessons.
-- Some people are blessed to have friends and neighbors who are good teachers and live close to lots of resources for improving their sailing (community sailing centers, racing associations, clubs and co-ops, boating safety groups, community colleges with boating programs) and are easily able to find a good skipper and talk their way onto a boat. Others are not so fortunate.
-- People vary in their tolerance for failure, courage/foolhardiness, need for excitement, sociability, common sense, mechanical ability, health, disabilities, coordination and balance, confidence, language and listening skills, budget, patience, time available, learning styles, and other life and boating skills. They have very different reasons for being attracted to sailing, and their interests are likely to evolve and grow as they learn more about the sport, are exposed to different kinds of sailing, learn more about what they do and don't like on the water and in boats, and learn more about themselves.
So, what are we going to do with that one-size-fits-all advice? Where's Procrustes' bed when you really need a nice peaceful nap? (Προκρούστης, son of the sea god Poseidon, a nice sailing examplar)