Teacher Responsibility

On one Irish dance message board, there is a posting and discussion about toe stands…the usual one about the teacher simply putting toe stands into a child’s dance because she is 12 now…the usual one asking how they are done…on a message board……can you see where I am going with this?

Why hasn’t the teacher prepared the student for toes stands? Why hasn’t the TEACHER PROPERLY TRAINED THE STUDENT SO THAT THE PARENT DOES NOT HAVE TO GO ON A MESSAGE BOARD TO ASK FOR TECHNICAL INSTRUCTION???!!!!

Someone suggested reading On your toes and another answered: “Thank you SO MUCH for the “Taoknitter” site-my daughter is starting toe stands too-this info is invaluable for saving her feet! Amazing how many kids do it in an injury prone way…” Gratifying to read that…but there are 2 issues that this answer brings up.

1) Notice her statement about “how many kids do it in an injury prone way…” Where does the onus lay in that statement? On the kids. Where should the onus lay? On the teachers.

2) The mind set of this and the other posters is that it is ok that the dancer must figure out how to do toe stands on her own. It is ok that mom is on the boards asking for help…and other folks are being helpful. But no one has pointed out that the TC has failed the student. It seems to be ok that the students are left to their own devices. Why?

Makes me sick to my stomach.

Is this mind set unique to ID? No. Is this behavior unique to ID teachers? No, as illustrated by this interesting comment that came in on “Dear An Coimisiún le Rincí Gaelacha…”.

From Anonymous:

“It’s interesting that the post providing a link to your kinesiology posts has been removed AGAIN from the TCRG voy forum.

When I was in high school (several decades ago), I hated gym class. Actually, I always hated gym class and any form of body-movement activities. It was always presented to me as a form of punishment (“You are so awkward, so I’ve signed you up for tap dancing…”)

One particular gym class is still very memorable. The teacher (name and face long forgotten) had hauled out the “gymnastics” equipment. There was a set of uneven bars. We all stood there looking at it wearing our bright red, IRONED, cotton “gym suits”. She explained that in a few weeks we would be graded on a routine and some itsy-bitsy little girl went up to the bars to demonstrate. First thing she did was haul herself up around the lower bar feet-first. Now I could sort of do it the other way – straight arm up and then let gravity do it’s work and around you go. But this way? It was a mystery. “How do you do that?” I asked the girls who could. They didn’t know, they just did it. The rest of us (most of the class) just stood around and stared. We were told to do it.

We did not have the upper body strength to pull into the bar (not that we even knew that was what we had to do). Did the teacher ever have us do any conditioning exercises for this activity? No. When we couldn’t do it, she just told us TO do it and don’t be lazy. I didn’t get an “A” in gym and just hated it even more.

Here’s my point. Any of you TCRGs out there reading this: It is all well and good if you can recognize the steps and moves and know whether they are executed well, but if you can’t help a student get to the point where they CAN dance those steps, you aren’t worth any more than my long-forgotten gym teacher. Reminding a student to turn out or get up high on their toes is not the least bit helpful to the dancer who can’t. The good teacher needs to be able to sort the CAN’Ts from the WON’Ts. The can’t-do-it-yet dancers need background strengthening work and encouragement that they will someday be able to dance the way you want. The won’t-do-it-yet dancers are the ones that benefit from the “reminders” because they can do the move, but aren’t doing it consistently. Nagging a CAN’T only makes them feel worse.”

This way of teaching, this neglectful technique, is wrong, lazy, ineffective, counter-productive, ignorant and even dangerous. Why do people accept it?

Demand more. Demand and expect that your teachers know their craft, that they KNOW HOW TO TEACH!!! Change the mind set that teachers are gods that cannot be questioned. Question them all!!! The good ones will smile and and answer every question, even if it is to say, “I do not know the answer to that right now, but I will when next I see you.” The bad ones get mad…and then behave badly.

I like to think that there are more good teachers (of all kinds) out there than there are bad ones. We just hear more about the bad ones because the good ones do not send you off to the message boards to get answers.

Click for more kinesiology info: Dance Kinesiology

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