Teachers…What would you like to teach?

Story | Opinion | Chrisa Assis | 25 Oct 2016 | 0 comments

Dear all fellow teachers,

Sometimes when you are stuck in the subway, it can be quite enjoyable!!!

Downtown, middle of the day, and the subway stops..!
TTC– “We apologize for the inconvenience..!”
And as I am about to turn into a very angry bird…
A very interesting conversation is starting right next to me..!

Three teenagers are talking about a book they had to read for school, in order to earn a good mark. One of them says he will only read the summary and that is when it all began as the other two accused him of cheating!!!

Nothing interesting so far I know…wait for it though..!

A lady, sitting right next to them, jumps to the opportunity and says that they are having such an interesting debate, she can’t help it but interfere…and since she is doing a masters in education, if they could please lay it out for her!
She started by saying that indeed it is not cheating, since there is going to be a test with questions. If one can answer the questions, just by reading the summary, then that simply means that the questions are too easy..! (Valid point indeed!)
Then that led into how they are the young blood of society and they need to demand more from the school system. Which led into, the difference between being clever and being intelligent…which led into how clever people use the system to use others like when her father–who is sexist–tried to stop her from going to university…Which led into how Donald Trump is clever and able to use the system, and he may lead US to idiocy…and so on and so forth…
Bottom line: The teenagers should try to become intelligent, should demand more from their schools and they should start by writing an article about all this, which they should send to the “Globe” not to “Toronto Star”, we are keeping things classy! haha
(I am not making this up..!)

What did the teanagers do..? Nothing!

They said, not one word and they probably even stopped listening after the first few minutes of this 15min monologue!

But it got me thinking..!
What is the teacher’s goal, when she is asking her students to read a book?
To get her students to answer the questions right or to get to them to love reading, to love learning?

I want to believe, based on my experience from good teachers during my school years, that teachers hope to teach their students how to love knowledge!

I believe that their wish is to have students, who will grow up enjoying a good book, enjoy learning new things, enjoy getting into new adventures, broadening their horizons, changing their views about life, becoming whole individuals..!

Now obviously the students believe that the purpose of this exercise is to just answer the questions correctly…expected misunderstanding…hah

Haven’t you ever been in a class, teaching a new routine, where your primary focus is getting everyone to experience movement, teach them how to create something beautiful with their partner, teach them to love to dance…BUT…everybody in the class is trying to get their right foot perfectly at a 42⁰ angle to their partner’s foot?!?!?!

We have all been there and I know it took me a few years to find the right balance between transferring the essence of the dance and actually teaching the serious technical part of the dance. So I tried to put down a few pointers that helped me get where I am and I am hoping to hear back from you with more ideas!

So here we go:

  • Give them time to dance!
    Though this might sound obvious, before you start introducing a full sequence, allow them to dance. Allow them to have an experience of their own on the element of improvisation and then start building the sequence slowly along with making corrections on their technique
  • Notice how you structure the class. Often times in our attempt to be clear and as specific as possible, we keep the technique exercises separate from the dance/ sequencing part of the class. I am not saying that is always a bad idea, but maybe sometimes you might want to change things up and instead connect your technique exercises to your sequence-building.
  • This can give you an opportunity to make some of the more difficult elements of the dance, easier to explain.
    For example, say you want to work on the posture. Instead of describing the posture and very clearly take the students through different exercises focusing on the posture. Consider, after putting a very simple sequence together, to ask them to shift their focus to different parts of the body, as they are working on the sequence. For example, you can ask them to initiate the movement from their atlas–the first vertebrae of the spine, and then ask them to shift their focus to  the middle of the body–where the kidneys are. Then to their heel. Depending on how they are responding to this all, you can ask them to focus internally, to their heart, or their lungs and move from within.
    This way, as they are dancing, they get to revisit their posture multiple times and to reach the same position, following slightly different paths each time. The posture then becomes part of the dance, becomes a bodily experience, instead of just another thing they have to do before they start dancing.
  • Consider changing the music playlist for the class more often and finding suitable music pieces for the sequences you have planned for each class. This will give you the opportunity to talk about musicality more often instead of waiting for a musicality workshop. Plus your students will view improvisation as a subject, not as challenging, since they will start understanding the logic behind it.
  • Lastly don’t forget to remind them, why they are in your class..! Remind them that they are there to learn how to dance, they are there to have fun, to enjoy themselves, and to work past the frustration in order to become, not the best but better and better every time!
    In order to do that, as the time passes, we need to focus on getting better and better. This way we will be inspiring and inspired! we can motivate and we are staying motivated! To stay on top of our game, we need to  keep practicing and find time to spend with ourselves.
    So give yourself, the time you need to practice, but also go out, relax, dance, have fun, and spent some time outside the classroom and within your Tango community!

Take care and keep on inspiring more and more people to dance!

Looking forward to hearing your ideas..!
Chrisa Assis

Photo credit: jp3g Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND


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Published: 25 Oct 2016 @ 21:55


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