A teaching point, from a beginner's perspective.

Blain Nelson

Message 35041 · 24 Apr 2003 20:02:43 · Fixed-width font · Whole thread

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For those who aren't familiar with this, I have been attending classes
since January, and attended a few dances before that.

The beginner's class has been a bit touchy at times. We've had some
weeks that we're short of a full set. There are four of us that have
been there most of the time, and my daughter started coming to class
with me a couple months ago. Aside from that core, we've had a couple
who have been dancing at that level for a year previous who have come
1/3 to 1/4 of the time, and a few total beginners who have come 1-3
times (mostly once).

Of the core, the other male and my daughter have gone to every dance
since we started attending class (and the first dance was after our
first class). The two ladies in our core haven't come to any dances,
and have only come once on the weeks (once a month) that we meet with
the intermediate class (due to scheduling conflict).

Now, to prepare for a new job, I've begun taking a class at the local
tech college, which is offered the same night and most of the same time
as my beginners class. As much as I love the dancing, I have to attend
the other class. Now, the first week of my tech class was the week that
our class meets with the intermediates on a different night, so I went
then.

I found that I was able to keep up with the things we were doing as well
as many of the intermediates, and better than some (and, of course, some
of them totally blew me away in terms of ability). My footwork is
passable, my forms are pretty okay (totally mess up on occasion, but can
generally do it right or recover quickly), and I'm remembering the dance
geography pretty well after a couple times through. I have room to
improve on all of these things, but I'm not finding that my
participation is messing up a set very much anymore, and the people I
dance with have made a point of telling me how well I'm doing on a
semi-regular basis.

I will not be able to attend the beginners class on its regular night
for a year. I will be able to attend it on the night it meets with the
intermediates, and I will be able to go to the dances every month
(between September and May). And, over the summer, when there are no
formal dances or classes, one of the advanced members has discussed
opening her home once a week for a potluck and some dancing, and I have
been invited to that.

I'm considering asking the teacher of the intermediates if I could come
there sometimes and dance with them. If they're doing something beyond
my ability, I would be happy to sit it out (breaks are good), but if
it's something I can handle with a bit of stretching, I would like to be
able to try it.

There's been some discussion of when/how you progress from the beginner
class to the intermediate, and the response has been pretty vague, so
I'm guessing there may not be a formal process for that (which makes
sense, given the difficulties others have noted elsewhere here). I
don't want to be tromping on any toes with that request, and I
understand that my request could stir things up conceivable. From my
perspective, I'd rather do something that will keep my learning and
progressing, rather than taking an extended time off and just trying to
keep up at the dances.

So that's where I'm at, and I'm not sure how that fits with the rest of
the discussion. I recognize the struggle between trying to invite and
retain beginners on the one hand, keeping them in a learning environment
when they need ot on another, and, on the third, moving them into more
advanced groups but only when they are ready. Since groups, areas, and
people are all different, I'm not sure that one set of rules will work,
but perhaps some good basic principles could be worked out that every
group and participant could use to take some of the pain out of that
process.

Take care,
Blain

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