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  1. #1
    Ultimate BHUZzer ssipes's Avatar
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    Is dance class like math class?

    Yesterday I saw this:

    Dan Meyer: Math class needs a makeover | Video on TED.com

    It is 11 minutes long. I found it riveting. (warning, if you haven't experienced TED talks before you will find the entire website distractingly riveting)

    Then an analogy was made between learning dance and learning math in another thread, and I found myself going back to this video and watching it again.

    [deleted most of my original post here, as my original intent was for people to watch the video and discuss it, not just read my synopsis]

    Can any of this be applied to dance pedagogy? Are we already applying some of these concepts? What can we learn from this?

    Opinions? Comments? Discussion?

    I have more things to say but I'd like to see what other teachers and/or students think.
    Last edited by ssipes; 06-18-2010 at 12:44 PM.


  2. #2
    Mega BHUZzer Lara L's Avatar
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    Re: Is dance class like math class?

    well, the 5 point problem sounds like dance class, but I'm not sure his proposed solution will carry over directly- basically, they are all ways to make class more interesting & to involve students more directly in their own learning- his suggestions are possible ways to do this, but I think there are a lot of avenues that will work differently for different teacher/student combinations. I used to have a book called something like "the substitute teachers survival manual" and it was a great resource for finding ways to keep students interested & committed in less than ideal circumstances- I should go dig it out again! On the multimedia front, I think using videos to remind students why they are dancing is great, but I usually assign that as youtube homework... I was once shocked when a student said she had never seen a belly dance performance- not even a hafla- after 18 months of classes- no wonder she wasn't 'getting' certain concepts!


  3. #3
    Ultimate BHUZzer Tourbeau's Avatar
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    Re: Is dance class like math class?

    I agree with his premise--math education is woefully inadequate--but I'm not totally on board with all of his solutions. There is a larger problem hiding behind students' short attention spans: namely, that no one wants to admit that the educational process is not supposed to be nonstop fun. When something isn't enjoyable, students lose interest--little kids doing math problems, and adult women doing shimmy drills. Teachers don't want to say, "Nobody cares if you're not enjoying it. Slog through it anyway, because you need to do this if you want to get better." Not to go all Calvinistic work ethic on folks, but this is a lot of the problem in both cases. The self discipline to shoulder a hard, repetitive, not-obviously-rewarding task ain't what it used to be. My own educational experience amply demonstrated that when you're in a room of students from other places where teachers didn't care whether learning was fun, it was mighty tough to keep up. Their discipline pays off.

    Personally, I think part of the problem with school education is the insistence of the importance of multimedia. As someone who spent three years on a PTO, I can tell you that "multimedia" is nothing more than an elaborate game of "keeping up with the Joneses," and a huge money suck that diverts funds away from hiring and retaining good teachers. Getting ineffective/unqualified teachers out of classrooms is the single most important thing a school can do to raise the caliber of their education--not buying SMART boards, not outfitting each student with a laptop, not buying the latest AV equipment. That math he's teaching is the same stuff Newton was doing by candlelight with a quill pen. Lack of technology is not the issue.

    In our case, we can't go back to some mythical "basics" and eliminate multimedia, because it's much of what we do. We can't dance without music. It probably would be beneficial if more teachers made an effort to integrate video (reviewing performances, studying famous dancers, etc.) into their class curriculum. We do share the problem of self discipline, though. Many students don't have a strong commitment to building technique (the dance equivalent of multiplication tables), and some teachers are hesitant to force students to accomplish more than being able to stumble through an elementary routine before letting them on stage. Students don't want the challenge and vulnerability of doing their own work. They want someone else's spoon-fed choreography. We worry far more about scaring students away with hard work than schoolteachers do.

    His speech reminded me of this, though...The Uses Of Half-True Alarms | The New Republic


  4. #4
    Advanced BHUZzer BELLA_BELLA's Avatar
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    Re: Is dance class like math class?

    Math is easier than dance. Once you learn how to do one type of problem....they're all the same...only the numbers or the letters change. So after you do a thousand of them, that's pretty much it.

    But you can do a thousand shimmies or undulations and still know you just-did-not-get-it.


  5. #5
    A journey of ten thousand miles begins with a single post. anala's Avatar
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    Re: Is dance class like math class?

    Math is easier than dance

    All hope for me is, therefore, lost.


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    Official BHUZzer Nabila-Nazem's Avatar
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    Re: Is dance class like math class?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tourbeau View Post
    ...There is a larger problem hiding behind students' short attention spans: namely, that no one wants to admit that the educational process is not supposed to be nonstop fun. When something isn't enjoyable, students lose interest--little kids doing math problems, and adult women doing shimmy drills. Teachers don't want to say, "Nobody cares if you're not enjoying it. Slog through it anyway, because you need to do this if you want to get better." Not to go all Calvinistic work ethic on folks, but this is a lot of the problem in both cases. The self discipline to shoulder a hard, repetitive, not-obviously-rewarding task ain't what it used to be. ...[/url]
    Boy, is that true!


  7. #7
    Master BHUZzer beafarhana's Avatar
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    Re: Is dance class like math class?

    It seems wrong to me to blame the students. The responsibility must surely lie with the teacher to present her material in a compelling and interesting way.

    I don't know about any other teachers, but my students love learning about the music, about different dance styles. They love improvisation. They relish the challenges I set them (and I really do challenge them) and they always do their level best, they try really hard. When we are performing, they always organise extra rehearsals out of class time, usually with me, but they're perfectly capable of getting on without me there.

    Students don't have to be in our classes. It's not Community Service. They can choose. Which means that we have to give them the incentive to keep coming back. Which means we have to give them credit for their progress and their efforts. We have to make sure that they can see the rewards, both long- and short-term.


  8. #8
    Ultimate BHUZzer ssipes's Avatar
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    Re: Is dance class like math class?

    Quote Originally Posted by BELLA_BELLA View Post
    Math is easier than dance. Once you learn how to do one type of problem....they're all the same...only the numbers or the letters change. So after you do a thousand of them, that's pretty much it.
    Well, first, that's only true at all if you have math reasoning skills. If you have ever interacted with American middle school, high school, college, or (gulp) graduate students, you know these are not ubiquitous skills.

    Second, real world math problems get infinitely complex if you just look around for them. Only in the textbook are they all the same


  9. #9
    A journey of ten thousand miles begins with a single post. Zumarrad's Avatar
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    Re: Is dance class like math class?

    Quote Originally Posted by anala View Post
    Math is easier than dance

    All hope for me is, therefore, lost.
    Ditto. I am deeply and importantly mathematically challenged.

    The other really obvious thing that leaps to my mind is that maths is compulsory (at least at its most basic level) whereas dance is something you only do if you already WANT to do it. So I think students are going to be there for quite significantly different reasons to start with.

    I agree that things like drilling etc can be rendered fun by the right teacher. Hadia gives you a whole body warmup and workout without you noticing. You just thought you were doing a nice easy dancy thing.

    Varied paedogical approaches are really important. Back to maths - I was and have always been appalling at maths. At school I coasted through everything with high marks except PE and maths. I decided that maths was something I HAD to pass, but so long as I got a C it was OK. That was the only subject I felt that way about.

    Twice - no, three times - I had teachers in intermediate and high school who, for some reason, could explain maths to me and make it unhorrifying, to the point where I was doing OK. Even quite well. I couldn't understand it till I talked to one of said maths teachers, who is an old family friend, and she pointed out that all three of them were women who had arts degrees first. They had all studied maths in order to get jobs as maths teachers, which were lacking at that time. So they thought like me. Prior to studying with them I had maths teachers who loved and understood maths naturally, and they just could not explain it to me in a way I could understand.

    I think that occurs with dance teachers as well, but as dance teachers get older and more experienced they get better at relating to the person who is not naturally good at dance. Younger dancers wth a lot of natural ability are quite unthinking about how it is they do X or Y. Only through years of experience (and maybe injuries that make them more body aware) do some naturally gifted dancers work out how to explain what they're doing so a less gifted person can work it out.


  10. #10
    A journey of ten thousand miles begins with a single post. anala's Avatar
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    Re: Is dance class like math class?

    I am deeply and importantly mathematically challenged.

    I actually can feel a vibration in my head that feels like a tuning fork when presented with a math problem. Even a very simple one. I had kind teachers who allowed me to come in after hours to take open book exams so I could pass. Straight A marks in every other class. I think my Mother may have been frightened by a German mathematician with a slide rule in his shirt pocket before I was born.


  11. #11
    Mega BHUZzer kashmir's Avatar
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    Re: Is dance class like math class?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tourbeau View Post
    There is a larger problem hiding behind students' short attention spans: namely, that no one wants to admit that the educational process is not supposed to be nonstop fun. When something isn't enjoyable, students lose interest--little kids doing math problems, and adult women doing shimmy drills. Teachers don't want to say, "Nobody cares if you're not enjoying it. Slog through it anyway, because you need to do this if you want to get better." Not to go all Calvinistic work ethic on folks, but this is a lot of the problem in both cases. The self discipline to shoulder a hard, repetitive, not-obviously-rewarding task ain't what it used to be.
    I think this is an important point. And it goes further than just drills. Recently we have identified a training problem in New Zealand. We need plumbers and electricians but parents are supporting their children to be photographers and circus performers - but it's "fun" and they are following their passion. Then they end up with big debt - and no work.

    As the daughter of a Calvanist I was always brought up with "if you don't work you don't eat", "never buy on credit" and "life wasn't meant to be fun" - and it never did me any harm.

    But if we are looking at 90% of those doing belly dance classes they are not training to be "dancers". They just want a night out and a bit of fun exercise. I do a little lecture at the start of each course about what they put in and what they can achieve. I suspect many forget it though.


  12. #12
    Advanced BHUZzer BELLA_BELLA's Avatar
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    Re: Is dance class like math class?

    Nope. I completely disagree. I've yet to meet someone unable to master the logic of math. This is not to say that the LEARNING process is easy, b/c it is NOT easy for many people after the add/subtract/multiply/divide stage. But it is completely rote and can be mastered. Once you learn to recognize the pattern of the question, you can set up the answer and solve it (if it does have a solution, of course, which is also a pattern). Over and over and over.

    Word problems (and that's pretty much everything we use daily) are only difficult if you can't understand what the words are telling you about the math, but again, once you know how to decipher them - the math is the easy part.

    Now dance - that requires most of the senses, the physical and mental engagement - a whole lot more thinking using both sides of the brain, including math, physics and spatial reasoning. Which is not to ding math, I just think more people have a better shot at learning math than any of the creative arts.


  13. #13
    A journey of ten thousand miles begins with a single post. anala's Avatar
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    Re: Is dance class like math class?

    "if you don't work you don't eat", "never buy on credit" and "life wasn't meant to be fun"

    I coined one for the newbies in my office when they whine ... and that, Ladies and Gentlemen, is why it is called work".


  14. #14
    Mega BHUZzer kashmir's Avatar
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    Re: Is dance class like math class?

    Quote Originally Posted by BELLA_BELLA View Post
    Math is easier than dance. Once you learn how to do one type of problem....they're all the same...only the numbers or the letters change. So after you do a thousand of them, that's pretty much it.
    Really? Advanced differiential calculus takes a bit more than just plugging in different numbers and letters and working on the imaginery number plane takes a bit of a different mindset as well. ,r:;


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    A journey of ten thousand miles begins with a single post. anala's Avatar
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    Re: Is dance class like math class?

    and working on the imaginery number plane

    The humming has started....


  16. #16
    Mega BHUZzer kashmir's Avatar
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    Re: Is dance class like math class?

    Quote Originally Posted by beafarhana View Post
    It seems wrong to me to blame the students. The responsibility must surely lie with the teacher to present her material in a compelling and interesting way.
    Up to a point. If you take it to its logical conclusion we end up with a circus with candyfloss and not school. Giving in to every whim and only doing fun stuff does not help build self discipline. Keep in mind may students are lazy - that isn't the teacher's fault. Many students are also incapable of learning - in that case the teacher's job is to find something to extend them (not as one of my jaded work-colleagues ended up showing videos instead of teaching).

    The original work done with pre-school in the States showed it was teaching the young children good habits and the ability to finish a task that held them in good stead for their whole lives.

    To me the saddest cases are those today who could have learnt but permanent brain damage caused by parental neglect - lack of good food, drugs, violence, and sexual abuse - has ruined their chances.


  17. #17
    Mega BHUZzer kashmir's Avatar
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    Re: Is dance class like math class?

    Quote Originally Posted by BELLA_BELLA View Post
    Nope. I completely disagree. I've yet to meet someone unable to master the logic of math. This is not to say that the LEARNING process is easy, b/c it is NOT easy for many people after the add/subtract/multiply/divide stage. But it is completely rote and can be mastered. Once you learn to recognize the pattern of the question, you can set up the answer and solve it (if it does have a solution, of course, which is also a pattern). Over and over and over.
    I have met many people who balk even at this first level (I assure you there are many levels after this - and each require a certain way of looking at the world). I used to think it was all a matter of application or better teaching or laziness or ... then I had a brain injury and for a couple of years I knew what it was like not to be able to see the patterns and feel the symbols dance. I will never do higher maths again but at least now I can function - and on the occasional day when I am feeling mellow I cut people some slack and acknowledge there are things people cannot do for no fault of their own (or their teachers)


  18. #18
    Ultimate BHUZzer ssipes's Avatar
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    Re: Is dance class like math class?

    Quote Originally Posted by BELLA_BELLA View Post
    Nope. I completely disagree. I've yet to meet someone unable to master the logic of math. This is not to say that the LEARNING process is easy, b/c it is NOT easy for many people after the add/subtract/multiply/divide stage. But it is completely rote and can be mastered. Once you learn to recognize the pattern of the question, you can set up the answer and solve it (if it does have a solution, of course, which is also a pattern). Over and over and over.

    Word problems (and that's pretty much everything we use daily) are only difficult if you can't understand what the words are telling you about the math, but again, once you know how to decipher them - the math is the easy part.

    Now dance - that requires most of the senses, the physical and mental engagement - a whole lot more thinking using both sides of the brain, including math, physics and spatial reasoning. Which is not to ding math, I just think more people have a better shot at learning math than any of the creative arts.
    I'm still not convinced we are talking about the same thing. You keep mentioning story problems in textbooks, and I'm talking about the ability to take what you learned in calculus and apply it out in the real world, for example, to build a house, or a bridge, where you don't have all the information you need in a 3 sentence story problem, or you have to filter information and figure out what you need. That is what I mean by math reasoning skills. I mean it in the sense that the speaker in the video discussed, and made distinct from the skill of being able to decode a textbook story problem.

    My second point was that there are always higher and higher levels of math application. Mathematicians at research institutions don't just sit around solving story problems in text books and then looking in the back to check their answers. They are solving theoretical problems that no one has solved before, or collaborating with scientists, engineers, architects, musicians, etc. My only point is that you can move past mundane math into a vast realm of elite math.

    I don't see the validity of comparing which is easier, math or dance. Both could occupy 10 lifetimes of learning without learning it all.


  19. #19
    A journey of ten thousand miles begins with a single post. Zumarrad's Avatar
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    Re: Is dance class like math class?

    Quote Originally Posted by kashmir View Post
    I think this is an important point. And it goes further than just drills. Recently we have identified a training problem in New Zealand. We need plumbers and electricians but parents are supporting their children to be photographers and circus performers - but it's "fun" and they are following their passion. Then they end up with big debt - and no work.
    Well, there was also that whole getting rid of apprenticeships and goverments encouraging people to train for whitecollar jobs at university thing for the past 15, 20 years. I think that has more to do with our current lack of tradesmen than people doing circus training, to be honest.

    But it is true that people who don't have to work frequently won't stick at a job and the supposed Gen Y ethic is a profound belief in their own desirability as employees that means they'll move on if they don't get what they want out of a job. That of course developed against a background of too many jobs and not enough people, which has reversed. I don't know how they're coping now they don't have the options to job-hop.

    It reflects a wider societal expectation of fast-tracking through everything, and I think it is fair to say that some dance students want that too.


  20. #20
    I could get used to this! Meredith's Avatar
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    Re: Is dance class like math class?

    Loved the video and the site, thanks for posting!

    The main point I took away from his talk was we need to teach math reasoning skills. I'm not sure how this would apply to learning just the physical part of dance; the "get my body to produce this movement in this way" skills. But at the next level up, when you are using practicing and perfecting those movements and learning to improv or create choreos - I could see dance reasoning be a very important part of the process.

    Dance can be reconfigured as a word problem. You've got this piece of music, how do you dance to create the desired effects/express these emotions? So what are the pieces of information you need to help you solve this?? You need to know about the music (kind of music, rhythms, lyrics, instruments, verses, refrains, tempo), movements, emotions changes, parts of the dance (entering/ending), then you need to start fitting movements into sections and phrases, adding accents, ect. There are probably variables I'm leaving out, but you get the drift.

    If you are just giving students a choreo/combo to practice then you are essentially giving them the equivilent of a "textbook word" problem and having them just do the calculation. Why not guide them through the process and teach dance reasoning? OK, maybe not a whole song, but short phrases/combos? Then not only would they be drilling the movements, but learning about how to dance.

    I think to her credit, I had an instructor who did some of this at the end of classes. It was fun!

    I also love Sahra Saeeda's workshop for this reason. She taught choreography, but at every step she explain why she was using certain movements on many levels. It was so much more fullfilling than just here is this 5 minute choreo learn what you can from it.

    My 2 cents,
    Meredith
    Last edited by Meredith; 06-19-2010 at 08:14 AM.


  21. #21
    Ultimate BHUZzer ssipes's Avatar
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    Re: Is dance class like math class?

    Exactly, Meredith! I think you see the same parallels I see.

    Drilling movements is like arithmetic class and maybe intro algebra. (and yes, many students have no interest in moving past that).

    I'm mostly addressing what do we do with the students who have some level of desire to move past "belly dance as a fun exercise and social activity".

    The 5 symptoms that we're teaching math wrong sounded familiar (and please, can we discuss this by first agreeing that no, not every dance student has all or even some of these problems, these are just common issues, also by agreeing that there are dance teachers that have good solutions to these).

    lack of initiative and perseverence: many students (again, just talking about those that want to advance) don't realize how much they need to practice on their own, or to what degree they have to take charge of their own dance education (selecting/changing teachers, attending workshops and intensives, getting private coaching, analyzing themselves on video, goal-setting, spending untold hours reading about ME culture/music/dance, watching videography, immersing in the music)

    lack of retention: e.g. learning basic rhythms, but the following week can't identify any of them, learning combos but can't use them later in improv or choreo, etc. etc. Or physical learning as wel: learn finer nuances of a movement but later lose it.

    Aversion to word problems = aversion to developing improvisational skills, or aversion to creating original choreography.

    Eagerness for formula. This is one that really struck me as an interesting parallel. Math students want to memorize the shortcut to the answer (e.g. the textbook decoding skills vs. real math reasoning skill). Dance students want to learn combos, choreos, they want lists of "moves" that define Egyptian, Lebanese, Turkish, etc. styles, they want a formula that takes them to an end product.

    (cont'd below)


  22. #22
    Ultimate BHUZzer ssipes's Avatar
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    Re: Is dance class like math class?

    Dan Meyers solutions also seem applicable:

    1. Multimedia. (Yes, Tourbeau I agree with many of your points about multimedia: it is very often a bandaid that administrators want to put on a gaping wound so they can feel better about themselves. I am fight a losing battle right now trying to convince people that halving the size of our general bio class (and thus doubling the faculty needed to teach it ) is far more important than technological stuff they want to buy.) That being said, the obvious multimedia in our subject is audio and video, something most of us already use, making it mostly a matter of convincing students of its importance. One thing that Tedi and I did for a while was this: her class was before mine and we had a 15 minute buffer in between. We go the facility to leave a DVD player in the studio and between classes people could watch Fifi Abdou.

    The other recommendations: encourage student intuition, ask short questions, let student build the problem, be less helpful. I try to do this in my continuing class on occasion by playing music and letting the class build a choreography phrase by phrase. They have to recognize the phrasing, decide whether it says travel or dance on the spot, decide if it says sharp or gooey movement, and as we go along, they have to deal with transition issues like building in prepares. This works pretty well except the most advanced students end up dominating the conversation unless I'm more pro-active about getting everyone involved.


  23. #23
    Ultimate BHUZzer Tourbeau's Avatar
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    Re: Is dance class like math class?

    Quote Originally Posted by beafarhana View Post
    It seems wrong to me to blame the students. The responsibility must surely lie with the teacher to present her material in a compelling and interesting way.
    This is beyond blaming students. It's our own sloppy teaching standards (or lack thereof) that feed the problem in our community. We deal with adults who already understand what hard work is and make a free choice whether or not they want to engage in it. Teachers who don't encourage students to meet expectations end up with students who often under perform. If it's the student's responsibility to design their own homework assignments (useful drills or exercises to improve their technique and musical understanding), we can't be surprised when only one gung-ho student does, especially when there are no specific consequences for not following through. (So what if you don't practice? You weren't going to be Jillina anyway.) The teacher shouldn't have to spoon feed an advanced student, but they have an obligation to shepherd the beginners. Mirroring some of what is going on in the SYTYCD thread, is it a coincidence that the students who do the best and make the most progress often come into our classes with experience in another dance field, where perhaps, they have already been taught what is needed/expected for success?

    A large segment of our student body is actively resistant to any sort of system that would involve having a teacher evaluate their performance. I once proposed that my local teacher offer a "seminar" style class for her handful of advanced students, where we would be responsible for doing a bit of work on our own, and then discussing our results in class (group critique). I may as well have proposed, "Let's all chop our toes off with a hacksaw!" from the horrified looks I got. Why don't students expect grades or progress reports in our classes? Whose fault is it that "critique" is such a dirty word?

    Teachers shouldn't intentionally try to be as dry and boring as possible, but there is only so much you can do to jazz up drilling and studying. Diligence can't always be enjoyable, and it takes hours and hours of hard work--practicing, memorizing, learning--to be a good dancer (even at the hobbyist level), and not all of it is exciting and immediately rewarding. Everybody likes fun, and I understand that "fun" students are a big part of our market, but how many of them would be willing to shoulder a little more burden if we just made it clear we wanted them to? How many potential long-term hobbyists (much less students with possibly higher aspirations) do we lose from our classes because we expect so little? Heaven help me for invoking this one, but this discussion is starting to remind me of "Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus." Maybe students are from Mars, too, and if we were just more forthright about what our expectations are, they'd be more likely to rise to meet them?


  24. #24
    Ultimate BHUZzer Tourbeau's Avatar
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    Re: Is dance class like math class?

    Is an advanced dance class like an academic journal on literary criticism? In Praise of Tough Criticism - The Chronicle Review - The Chronicle of Higher Education


  25. #25
    Ultimate BHUZzer ssipes's Avatar
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    Re: Is dance class like math class?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tourbeau View Post
    Is an advanced dance class like an academic journal on literary criticism? In Praise of Tough Criticism - The Chronicle Review - The Chronicle of Higher Education
    I didn't really care for that article. It starts with a false dichotomy, which (surprise!) turns out to be a really easy strawman to knock down.

    The scholarly literature in the fields of community ecology and population genetics (to name just a couple I'm familiar with) is littered with debris of past "wars" wherein the "Smith" types (referencing Tourbeau's article link) butted heads and basically made asses of themselves -- brilliant minds, too bad they will be remembered for all eternity as the ones who snarked at colleagues in their scholarly papers, or even in the titles of their scholarly papers.


  26. #26
    Ultimate BHUZzer Tourbeau's Avatar
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    Re: Is dance class like math class?

    It would be quite difficult to defend a position advocating open season on ruthlessness, but I'm afraid we often err too much on the nice side for our own good. As an educational system, we don't have a history of giving students enough negative feedback to meet their own developmental needs. It is completely valid and appropriate to expect teachers to be tactful, sensitive to the timeliness and severity of a correction, and so on, but it does an academic injustice to always hold back on or soft pedal the negatives. Studying with a teacher who never has anything to say but compliments, faint/useless/group praise, or silence is not doing her whole job, unless she only recruits perfect students. We thwart ourselves by holding off on giving personalized corrective advice until a student has the experience to know she needs private lessons. It makes more sense to start fixing bad habits in the beginner phase instead of waiting until later, when those problems are more frustrating and expensive to correct.

    I know some teachers are more diligent about this than others, but on average, I think this is a major shortcoming for us. Math is far more objective than dance, but the math teachers have us on this one. If you're doing something arithmetically invalid, at least they mark your answer wrong. They don't let you get into Calculus before pointing out that you weren't doing Algebra properly.


  27. #27
    Mega BHUZzer kashmir's Avatar
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    Re: Is dance class like math class?

    Okay I admit I have only just had a chance to see the video. I liked it and I think it was very relevant to maths (did I mention I was a High School maths teacher for a few years?) On this forum I am not going to go into the issues with teaching to the exam as opposed to actually building maths understanding.

    How does it relate to dance? I can see parallels between students wanting formulae and students wanting choreography.

    Lack of inititiative and perserverence doesn't apply so much in class as in the student's practice at home. I feel most of my time is spent teaching arithmetic rather than maths - that is people are fine learning how to make their body move or even combinations but they don't want to look at want should be driving the movement.

    How to address it though is quite different. If we pull back and give no real guidence - just some music and tell them to go for it - assuming they actually try the chances are the result won't actually be belly dance. Unlike maths when you assemble the information and work out your own formula it is easy to check against the real world. You thought it would take 3 weeks to fill the tank but it took 1 hour. But you can take belly dance movements and music and create dance which is something totally off base.


  28. #28
    Advanced BHUZzer da Sage's Avatar
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    Re: Is dance class like math class?

    Quote Originally Posted by zumarrad View Post

    Twice - no, three times - I had teachers in intermediate and high school who, for some reason, could explain maths to me and make it unhorrifying, to the point where I was doing OK. Even quite well. I couldn't understand it till I talked to one of said maths teachers, who is an old family friend, and she pointed out that all three of them were women who had arts degrees first. They had all studied maths in order to get jobs as maths teachers, which were lacking at that time. So they thought like me. Prior to studying with them I had maths teachers who loved and understood maths naturally, and they just could not explain it to me in a way I could understand.

    I think that occurs with dance teachers as well, but as dance teachers get older and more experienced they get better at relating to the person who is not naturally good at dance. Younger dancers with a lot of natural ability are quite unthinking about how it is they do X or Y. Only through years of experience (and maybe injuries that make them more body aware) do some naturally gifted dancers work out how to explain what they're doing so a less gifted person can work it out.
    You know, a lot of people have told me that I should be a math teacher because I'm good at math, and learn it very easily. Most of them were confused when I told them that is exactly why I should not be a math teacher.

    The best teacher is one who really had to work to master the subject, but did so because s/he loves it. And also has good teaching/social skills.


  29. #29
    Ultimate BHUZzer Tourbeau's Avatar
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    Re: Is dance class like math class?

    Quote Originally Posted by kashmir View Post
    Lack of inititiative and perserverence doesn't apply so much in class as in the student's practice at home. I feel most of my time is spent teaching arithmetic rather than maths - that is people are fine learning how to make their body move or even combinations but they don't want to look at want should be driving the movement.

    How to address it though is quite different. If we pull back and give no real guidence - just some music and tell them to go for it - assuming they actually try the chances are the result won't actually be belly dance. Unlike maths when you assemble the information and work out your own formula it is easy to check against the real world. You thought it would take 3 weeks to fill the tank but it took 1 hour. But you can take belly dance movements and music and create dance which is something totally off base.
    Teachers don't always make the most of the leverage they have. I'm not saying they should be mercilessly chewing students out in a rec class, but I've personally seen very little displeasure expressed when a student blows off choreography practice, or makes no effort to make up a missed class. If a teacher repeats an extensive amount of material for the benefit of one student who isn't committed enough to care that she's slowing everybody else down, why should she feel any initiative to work harder? There's no negative benefit to not "fulfilling the plan"--no embarrassment, no peer pressure, no punitive consequences, just a reinforcement of the idea that this isn't very important, and that being a conscientious student is unnecessary, if not foolish. I know not all classes are like this, but this style of lunatics-running-the-asylum teaching has been a big part of my experience. (More than one teacher, more than one city).

    Going from being a beginner in an introductory class to competent soloist who creates her own choreographies is a long process, and I don't know why we don't do a better job of guiding students. I wish my early teachers had been asking me to do little things along the way: bring an example of a song with ayoub rhythm to class, write a paragraph on an Umm Kalthoum song, demo 30 seconds of a drum solo or a minute of veil, and so on. My education was more like, "Spoon feed...spoon feed...spoon feed...er...um...Ta-DAH?" Nobody was transitioning me off of having everything given to me, into doing it for myself. I don't think it is a coincidence that so many students are intimidated by the process and end up in places like Bhuz asking, "How do I know if I'm ready?" Teachers aren't giving them progress markers. Two or three years of splashing around in a wading pool isn't much preparation for jumping off the diving board into the deep end.


  30. #30
    I could get used to this! Meredith's Avatar
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    Re: Is dance class like math class?

    Quote Originally Posted by kashmir View Post
    How to address it though is quite different. If we pull back and give no real guidence - just some music and tell them to go for it - assuming they actually try the chances are the result won't actually be belly dance.
    I don't think the idea is to give no guidence, but proposing a middle ground where teachers guide students through the process with either math or dance.

    For example, I recently went to a beginner 1 session of a teacher with very good reputation for dance and teaching. In the second class she actually had the class circle up and everyone, even students who had only had 1 previous dance class, lead the class with a movement of their choice. For the newest students it wasn't brilliant - but it was belly dance. It was the start of getting them to listen, perform, and .....improv. One of my first teachers at the end of almost every of her beginner level classes had us group up and create a short choreo (5 movements) and we critiqued eachother. We created class choreos where each student decided on the movement for the next phrase. She also had us perform 1 minute improvs and we were critiqued by her and the class - I studied for most of my first year with her.

    Contrast that with several dancers I know who after 4 or 5 years have never (not even at home) done improv or created choreography. I was paired with one in an intermeadiate class several years ago to do improv for eachother - she cried. They are terrified of it and their teacher never introduced or guided them through either process. She just taught choreo after choreo, combo after combo.

    Meredith


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