Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Great dancers are NOT always the best teachers

If I had six hours to chop down a tree, I'd spend the first four hours sharpening the axe.
- Abraham Lincoln
Dancing well does NOT make me a great instructor! In some cases, great dancers ARE great instructors. But sadly, that is not the norm. Teaching is a combination of art and science, and many dance instructors look great themselves, but they are not necessarily the best instructors.

If someone dances very well, sooner or later someone will ask them to show what they do, so most better dancers fall into the teaching business at some point. They didn't plan on teaching, and they didn't really study teaching. Teaching has occurred for thousands of years and there are established methods and theories for what works for the majority of people.

I often use this example: I can walk, and when I was in high school, I was on the track team for a while since I was a pretty fast runner. I suspect you also walk pretty well, and maybe you've run a few times in your life. If I had a stroke, and you were assigned to teach me how to walk again, what would you teach me? Assume I can't remember anything. (For fun, ask someone to "teach me to walk" starting from sitting in a chair and follow their instructions to the letter... It's an eye opening experience.)

Unless you are a physical therapist, the vast majority of people who walk very well could not quickly teach you or me how to walk again. It's actually tough to teach an adult since we don't have the same attitude about falling down hundreds of times like little children (being taller and heavier, it hurts more...)

Most people select an instructor based on the instructor's dancing ability. In a short time they are frustrated when they can't dance like the instructor does. I'll provide tips for assessing instructors and selecting those who will get you the farthest in the least amount of time. More to come on this subject...

No comments:

Post a Comment

I love feedback. Your thoughts, feelings and comments are appreciated. Civil disagreements and other points of view are always welcomed!

Feel free to send me private mail if appropriate.

Don Baarns - Unlikely Salsero