Friday, January 20, 2006

Day 262

<rant subject="dance teachers">

Why is it that almost all dance teachers are crap?

They're usually (but not always) pretty good dancers, but they all seem to think that being able to do a dance automatically qualifies them as being able to teach that dance. Not so; not even close, judging by some of the muppets I've encountered (and I've probably encountered a few dozen different dance teachers in my time).

Some lowlights, just from the last month or two:

  • The salsa teacher who responded to a ten-word question with a five minute monologue on an entirely different topic, followed by "Did that answer your question?". (He looked a bit stunned when I answered "No, not really" .... and then proceeded to repeat the same monologue for another five minutes, without even asking me to repeat the question.) *plonk*
  • The tango teacher whose sage advice was: "Don't do it wrong, do it right". Gee, thanks for the sophisticated analysis. *plonk*
  • The tango teacher who harangued a student for ignoring her dire warnings about doing unsupervised ganchos, culminating in "You might have kicked me in the head". Normally this would be an anatomical impossibility, but maybe she was just indicating that she had her head up her arse. *plonk*
More generally, many dance teachers are terrible at the logistics of classes: making sure everyone can see and hear, making sure that partners get rotated frequently so the inevitable extra women actually get a chance to do each section before they move onto the next section.

They also seem to have no awareness of the idea that different people might learn in different ways, and just teach in whatever style is comfortable for them. It's usually pretty obvious:

  • Teachers who are auditory learners themselves tend to talk at the class for a large fraction of the time.
  • Teachers who are visual learners themselves tend to demonstrate each move again and again, without much commentary.
  • Teachers who are kinaesthetic learners themselves get the class to perform each move many times, and often try to dance with each of the students.
By comparison, most riding teachers I've encountered or heard about tend to be pretty good at the mechanics of teaching. There's a reason for this: they actually have to do qualifications which include training on teaching as well as on equestrianism.

I think this topic is one of the reasons for the phenomenal success of Ceroc. As well as teaching a form of dance that's particularly easy for beginners to pick up, they make a big effort to ensure that the quality of the teaching is high. They rotate partners frequently, they use sound systems so everyone can hear the teacher, they hire big halls so people aren't cramped, and they make sure they cover all the bases on how to teach the moves themselves (show the move, describe the move, and make everyone do the move).

Sadly, the finest dance teacher I've encountered doesn't seem to teach in the UK any more


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