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  • ...

    hways March 9, 2006, 1:47 a.m. (Message 44593)

    Amid all of the recent clutter, some might have missed this excellent 
    paragraph from Anselm.
    Should be required reading for all teachers and candidates.
    Harry Ways
    
    Anselm wrote:
    
    IMHO, the full written instructions for a dance should never be read 
    aloud -- 
    not in class and definitely not in a social situation. They're much too
    tedious for that! Their place is on the teacher's desk when he or she
    prepares their lesson, and their purpose is to communicate to the teacher 
    how
    the dance is meant to go, so they can figure out how to explain it to the
    class -- often preferably by way of demonstration rather than reading out
    chapter and verse, and not necessarily from the beginning of the dance
    straight through to the end.
  • ...

    Pia Walker March 9, 2006, 10:17 a.m. (Message 44598, in reply to message 44593)

    So how do you teach your class to listen and visualise what they are
    supposed to do?
    
    A class consist of many people who all learn differently - some needs to see
    words, others diagrams, some can remember and some can only learn by hearing
    the words.  And how do you learn to listen to a brief/recap if you have
    never heard one?  Which is presumably why so many people stand on the floor
    and look adoringly at their .... wee green book/piece of paper instead of
    their partner.
    
    The same goes for music - how do you teach people to listen to the music if
    they only hear one kind?
    
    Pia
  • ...

    Wendy Grubb March 9, 2006, 2:13 p.m. (Message 44606, in reply to message 44598)

    I think that what is meant is that as the teacher one
    has already perhaps chosen a certain wording so that
    it is more clear to the class rather than just reading
    out of the book.  I know that I sometimes depend too
    much on the book rather than already knowing exactly
    what to tell the class.  Once I really know a dance I
    might describe it a little differently in a way that
    would be easier to understand for the dancers.  
    Wendy Grubb
    
    --- Pia <xxx@xxxxxxxx.xxx> wrote:
    
    > So how do you teach your class to listen and
    > visualise what they are
    > supposed to do?
    > 
    > A class consist of many people who all learn
    > differently - some needs to see
    > words, others diagrams, some can remember and some
    > can only learn by hearing
    > the words.  And how do you learn to listen to a
    > brief/recap if you have
    > never heard one?  Which is presumably why so many
    > people stand on the floor
    > and look adoringly at their .... wee green
    > book/piece of paper instead of
    > their partner.
    > 
    > The same goes for music - how do you teach people to
    > listen to the music if
    > they only hear one kind?
    > 
    > Pia
    > 
    > 
    > -----Original Message-----
    > From:
    > strathspey-bounces-pia=xxxxxxxx.xxx@xxxxxxxxxx.xxx
    >
    [mailto:strathspey-bounces-pia=xxxxxxxx.xxx@xxxxxxxxxx.xxx]On
  • ...

    Pia Walker March 9, 2006, 2:27 p.m. (Message 44607, in reply to message 44606)

    I know - but where do you learn to understand a book and the way it is
    written?   We have a specific way of annotating dances in RSCDS - ok - not
    always brilliant - but it is there.   We have a lot of people who write
    dances - sometimes using wording which is  understandable to them, I would
    say in many cases because of what they have heard but not always seen
    written down, but not necessarily so the wording travels well.
    
    Many experienced dancers/teachers forget that lesser mortals may not know
    what they mean by - whatever they are saying.  Plus the fact that one
    teacher although brilliant - may deliver the explanation in such a way that
    some people do not understand it.   I have teachers whose descriptions I
    understand very well, and others who I can't understand - nothing to do with
    their teaching, just the way my brain analyse their explanations.
    
    I like to hold the book firmly in my hand - if nothing else then for the
    person who will ask 'why do we' and 'can't we do?' and I can say - the
    offical line is:.....
    It has of course nothing to do with me having a memory like a sieve, of
    course :>)
    
    Pia
  • ...

    Wendy Grubb March 9, 2006, 2:48 p.m. (Message 44608, in reply to message 44607)

    I usually hold the book in my hand as well since I
    have dancers who enjoy finding errors in what I say. 
    I know what you mean about the difficulty of what was
    meant. I usually get members of my group to volunteer
    to try various things if I am unsure as well as asking
    other teachers who have more experience than I do or
    who dance in other areas and maybe even know the
    devisor.  I personally do better with words than with
    pictures so I only use Pillings if I already know the
    dance.  My sister on the other hand dances with a
    group that uses Pillings extensively and she finds it
    very difficult to read dances and understand them.  It
    is good to have both since we have multiple learning
    styles in dancers.  
    Wendy
    
    --- Pia <xxx@xxxxxxxx.xxx> wrote:
    
    > I know - but where do you learn to understand a book
    > and the way it is
    > written?   We have a specific way of annotating
    > dances in RSCDS - ok - not
    > always brilliant - but it is there.   We have a lot
    > of people who write
    > dances - sometimes using wording which is 
    > understandable to them, I would
    > say in many cases because of what they have heard
    > but not always seen
    > written down, but not necessarily so the wording
    > travels well.
    > 
    > Many experienced dancers/teachers forget that lesser
    > mortals may not know
    > what they mean by - whatever they are saying.  Plus
    > the fact that one
    > teacher although brilliant - may deliver the
    > explanation in such a way that
    > some people do not understand it.   I have teachers
    > whose descriptions I
    > understand very well, and others who I can't
    > understand - nothing to do with
    > their teaching, just the way my brain analyse their
    > explanations.
    > 
    > I like to hold the book firmly in my hand - if
    > nothing else then for the
    > person who will ask 'why do we' and 'can't we do?'
    > and I can say - the
    > offical line is:.....
    > It has of course nothing to do with me having a
    > memory like a sieve, of
    > course :>)
    > 
    > Pia
    > 
    > -----Original Message-----
    > From:
    > strathspey-bounces-pia=xxxxxxxx.xxx@xxxxxxxxxx.xxx
    >
    [mailto:strathspey-bounces-pia=xxxxxxxx.xxx@xxxxxxxxxx.xxx]On
  • ...

    Anselm Lingnau March 13, 2006, 1:37 p.m. (Message 44671, in reply to message 44607)

    Pia wrote:
    
    > I know - but where do you learn to understand a book and the way it is
    > written?   We have a specific way of annotating dances in RSCDS - ok - not
    > always brilliant - but it is there.   We have a lot of people who write
    > dances - sometimes using wording which is  understandable to them, I would
    > say in many cases because of what they have heard but not always seen
    > written down, but not necessarily so the wording travels well.
    
    The thing to remember is that dance descriptions, as printed in dance books, 
    are designed to be precise (one hopes, anyway) rather than exciting. The 
    problems faced by the authors of dance descriptions are similar to those that 
    computer programmers or legislators have to contend with; all these domains 
    require prose that conveys the exact meaning of highly misunderstandable 
    concepts, and their output usually results in descriptions that are accurate 
    but not exactly light bedtime reading to compare with the latest of Dan Brown 
    or J. K. Rowling.
    
    Like the interpretation of laws, the interpretation of dance descriptions 
    requires training and experience. This is what a teacher is supposed to 
    provide -- to take a precisely written dance description and translate it 
    into whatever concepts their class is most happy with, such as demonstration 
    or explanation in easier terms (or both). For example, if the dance 
    description says »bars 25-32: 2nd and 1st couples dance rights and lefts«, as 
    a teacher I will usually say »top two couples, rights and lefts« (if that is 
    the case), since in my experience people find it easier to relate to the set 
    as it is at that particular instance, rather than puzzle out which couple has 
    moved where in an ongoing shell game. I don't usually mention bar numbers, 
    and if I do, I use »relative« ones counting from the start of the 8-bar 
    phrase, such as »2s move up on 3 and 4« while 1st couple are leading down the 
    middle and up. Move-ups and such I try to relate to other movements taking 
    place, such as »1s cross right and cast while the 2s move up; 1s cross left 
    and cast to their left« rather than the more unwieldy »1st couple cross 
    giving right hands and cast off, then cross left hands and 1st man dances 
    round 3rd man by the left shoulder while 1st lady does likewise round 2nd 
    lady (2nd couple move up on bars 3-4)«, which is the way the same movement 
    might occur in a full dance description. (Incidentally, many of these ideas, 
    which are by no means original, are mentioned in my »Guide to Briefings«, 
    available from the Strathspey Server.)
    
    I agree that often it takes several approaches to teach the same subject 
    matter because people learn stuff in different ways. I also agree that recaps 
    should be provided at most if not all social functions. However, recaps 
    should be recaps and not full teaching sessions -- their function is to 
    remind people how the dance goes. To all those people who complain that they 
    have no time for swotting for the next social: Learning SCD is about 
    »learning dancing, not dances«. I've found that being able to do the basic 
    figures right and to string them together takes one a long way towards 
    dancing many dances from recaps and watching the first couple do their thing 
    (or picking up hints from the rest of the set if one happens to be the first 
    couple). These are all abilities that do not come easy to many people, but 
    which can be practised. The problems start when people approach each dance as 
    a new microcosm of choreography that must be learned on its own (preferably 
    by heart). This task, at 18 dances per evening, quickly becomes daunting, and 
    it is therefore understandable that dancers clamour for more detailed 
    explanations at the actual events. Perhaps this phenomenon is to do with the 
    practice of running a class by teaching dances from the next social programme 
    through reading the full descriptions from the book, rather than by teaching 
    *dancing* through a well-chosen selection of dances that builds up systematic 
    knowledge of formations and transitions? (Note that I didn't mention footwork 
    at all.)
    
    Anselm
    -- 
    Anselm Lingnau, Frankfurt, Germany ..................... xxxxxx@xxxxxxxxxx.xxx
    Intellectuals solve problems; geniuses prevent them.        -- Albert Einstein
  • ...

    Ron Mackey March 11, 2006, 12:23 a.m. (Message 44623, in reply to message 44606)

    > I think that what is meant is that as the teacher one
    > has already perhaps chosen a certain wording so that
    > it is more clear to the class rather than just reading
    > out of the book.  I know that I sometimes depend too
    > much on the book rather than already knowing exactly
    > what to tell the class.  Once I really know a dance I
    > might describe it a little differently in a way that
    > would be easier to understand for the dancers.  
    > Wendy Grubb
    
    	Hi, 		I attend a class where a teacher reads the 
    first try from the book and has us standing while discussions go on 
    about what the instructions mean to each dancer involved.  It is very 
    much a timewasting experience and, by committee, often is done 
    incorrectly in the end!.
     	Personally, I scan any new dance and copy it to a text file. 
    This is fairly garbled and needs re-writing/editing.  In doing this one 
    has to go line by line, often retyping the whole 8 bars being 
    considered.   I take the opportunity to insert my own abbreviations 
    (e.g. RSh,: 1s, 2s, 3s,:  Rts & Lts ; R3-4-5 etc.) and change the 
    wording so that I can grasp the meaning more quickly so that by the 
    time it is done it is re-written in a compact form and one has a clear 
    idea of what the deviser intended.   Oh, yes - and I always try to find 
    more then one way of saying things to produce the same result 	
    Tonight I tried to do a couple of old dances out of books 9 & 14 
    (which I knew well 50 or so years ago) straight from the wee books 
    and made a right hash of things.
      Taught me a lesson, it did!  i.e.  
    
    Don't take short cuts and be sure you know the dance before you 
    teach it.  It is the least you owe your class.
  • ...

    Phill Jones March 11, 2006, 12:46 a.m. (Message 44624, in reply to message 44593)

    Hi,
    Just a thought for teachers out there that I have heard used by school
    teachers... If a member of the class does not learn something you have
    taught them it is because you it wrong.  In other words, if you go in to
    a class without preparing it properly (i.e. without at least two or
    three ways of describing/presenting everything) then you as a teacher
    will fail to teach the majority of the class.  I know how that makes me
    feel on the receiving end!

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