Does this teaching philosophy sound shady?

Darshiva

Moderator
In my experience it's less about the dance skill & more about the ability to communicate & demonstrate effectively.

I'm not sure I agree with the author's philosophy at all.
 

Aziyade

Well-known member
I have to disagree -- in part, I think. At least about being a good dancer.

I do not believe that a person can be a good teacher without also being a good dancer.

That's kind of like me offering to teach guitar lessons. (I am barely more than a beginner.) I can teach you some chords, but my own weaknesses include: reaching fingers into complicated chord shapes, transitioning between chords, keeping a consistent tempo, finger-picking skills in general, reading the bass line, being able to play with any dynamics, etc. There is NO way whatsoever that I could adequately prepare a beginning guitar player for future lessons. More importantly, I'm quite likely to encourage that student to develop seriously bad habits that might take years to unlearn.

Thinking that a teacher only needs to have SLIGHTLY more experience than her students is what has degraded our dance. If you aren't good at something, why on earth would you teach it????


I understand completely the difference between knowing how to do something and teaching another person how to do that thing. I also understand that there are certainly guidelines and suggestions on teaching adults that are not subject-specific. (Like learning of the various intelligences, modalities, teaching theories and so on.)

But I certainly don't think that even if you have a PhD in TEACHING, you only need to know a little bit more than your students do IN THE SUBJECT MATTER. I know a heck of a lot about music and ballet, and I played the clarinet up through college. That absolutely DOES NOT qualify me to teach someone to play the saxophone or to train them in Irish step dancing.


eta -- let me rephrase that. I would NEVER trust a ballet teacher who had never performed, or who had only taken a couple of years of ballet classes. She would have no idea what actual performance dance is like. Also she probably wouldn't understand the purpose of some of the training. Theory and practice are often radically different.

Do we disagree? I know we've had the "do I have to be a good dancer to be a good teacher" thread before, but I can't find it.
 
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LadyLoba

New member
As a beginner, I would not be comfortable going to a teacher who thought like this...I think you need a high level of skill in whatever you're going to be teaching AND teaching skills themselves.

Somebody who was just slightly better than you could help you....if I got to take a belly dancing class, and was placed in a Beginner II class, somebody who just finished that class and was in Intermediate Belly Dance could certainly tutor me..but I would want someone advanced in the art form to be doing the actual teaching.
 
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teela

New member
I sort of understand her philosophy but I don't agree with it. I think to be the best teacher you need to know your material, know how to present the material to a variety of learners and know how to monitor a student's progress. If someone is barely above their students, the students will not have the opportunity to advance in the manner they should. I am a teacher so this is from my perspective as I work with students every day. Besides as far as dancing goes, we've seen too many examples of people who set themselves up to teach after having learned the basics.
 

LadyLoba

New member
Teela, correct me if I'm wrong, but I think you're referring to another form of the "6 week wonder" I was asking about recently....

We were talking about someone who, after taking one or two 6-10 week "Beginner" sessions declares herself a great dancer, and goes out there and gets hired to perform...I understand often for a lot less money than a truly professional dancer would charge...making it hard for the people who actually deserve the jobs to get them.

But teaching was also touched on.....and I really would not want lessons from someone like this, even if they were advanced or skilled in another form of dance. I agree with Aziyade....I started writing fiction and non fiction as a hobby when I was 8 years old and kept at it as a hobby my whole life, until college when I started doing it for academic credit....and graduate school when I got a full MA in Literature and Writing, and then began to do writing tutoring, writing workshops, freelance journalism, and now more fiction and non fiction writing professionally....and I would still have absolutely no business teaching a poetry class or leading poetry workshops, because I have done next to nothing in that particular form.
 

Daimona

Moderator
"To be able to teach, mainly at low levels, it is not necessary to be a great dancer. Being able to dance at a higher level than the one you are going to teach is always more than enough."
I haven't read the book, but the way I read this quote is that you cannot teach on a higher level than your own - which is true.
Now, whether one always should teach anyone at a lower level, whatever lever one is, is another question. So is it when one dancer is good and mature enough to start teaching. I'm not going to answer these questions, as they will always be subjects to discuss.
 

Aniseteph

New member
"To be able to teach, mainly at low levels, it is not necessary to be a great dancer. Being able to dance at a higher level than the one you are going to teach is always more than enough."
I have to agree you don't have to be great, otherwise very few of us would have teachers! But I agree with what Teela said. Without a certain depth of knowledge and understanding you're in danger of teaching a pretty dumbed down version.

The "levels" are the issue for me. Taking it to extremes it could mean the six week wonder is OK to teach what she has learned to complete beginners. From where I'm sitting her "level" is going to be pretty much indistinguishable from her students i.e. new beginner, but she won't see it that way - after all she can "do the moves" now, right...? Especially if her teacher has labelled the classes so you are intermediate after 6 weeks... she isn't a beginner anymore... :confused:

(OK I'm feeling quite sorry for this hypothetical 6ww now - she doesn't know what she doesn't know, and her teacher and this book are enabling her... ;) :lol:)
 

Kashmir

New member
"To be able to teach, mainly at low levels, it is not necessary to be a great dancer. Being able to dance at a higher level than the one you are going to teach is always more than enough."
Actually, I agree if by "dancer" you mean "performer". A teacher doesn't have to be able to physically dance much above her students - but s/he needs to understand the dance and be able to communicate it to the students. The easiest way for the physical aspects of teaching is to demonstrate with your own body. However, this could be done using another dancer or even video. Whatever means is used the teacher needs to understand how to create the movement and how to spot what difficulties the student is experiencing. Many "great" dancers cannot do this as they adopted the dance as easily as breathing and cannot understand why the students cannot do the same.

If I had to choose between a naturally gifted great dancer with no understanding of how movement is generated, physical limitations, safety or teaching methodology, and a good teacher who has a grasp of the above but herself was a so-so dancer, I would always choose the latter for less experienced dancers.
 

da Sage

New member
I agree with Kashmir. Often the best teacher for a beginner is one who is not naturally gifted, but has a great love for the subject, and struggled to master it.
 

Farasha Hanem

New member
I think it's also important to understand the human body as it relates to BD. In other words, a teacher needs to know how to dance and to teach in a way that won't cause physical harm to his/her students. I would be afraid of any teacher who can't spot when a student is doing a move wrong, or who refuses to correct students when they need it. There's so much responsibility in being a teacher, and a "six-week wonder" would not be seasoned enough to look out for things like that.
 

Shanazel

Super Moderator
When I was a graduate student I had occasion to teach statistics within a course on row crops. I was about two steps ahead of my students: taught myself the stuff one week and taught it to my students the next. Worked out fine.

But only being a step or two ahead of my dance students? No way. No how. Too many baby dancers out there pick up things too fast. How embarrassing would it be to find oneself surpassed by a student after her first semester?
 

Nejmeh

New member
I agree with kasmir on the dancerteacher with passion for hwat she is doing, even is she isn`t a great dancer on her own.

However, I dont feel like this is the intend of the statement. To me it sounds like the beginner student could start teaching after one course on her own. I do like the idea of an intermediate student helping the real teacher(both for further understanding of the moves and for preparing to teach someday), but no way should she teach on her own! She would not know the depth of the dance(uhm, you get me right?) even if she is willing to get to know them, she just didn`t have the time to make it a second nature.
 

jenc

New member
What about a teacher who is a beautiful dancer but has difficulty in working at a simple enough level for all students, loves very complicated drills and never revises basic moves even to put into a combination, and rarely corrects students.

I prefer a teacher who may be less skilled but is always revising, casts critical eye on all students, and teaches tips on egyptian styling.
 

Greek Bonfire

Well-known member
I don't agree with this philosophy at all, but I have seen evidence of this out there. I think a teacher has to be a good dancer and know something about performing.

I have seen great dancers and performers, however, who were miserable teachers just taking the money and not making great dancers and performers of their students.
 

PracticalDancer

New member
You have all raised some very interesting points; however, I suggest reading the review by LadyMei on Amazon, then reading whatever you can in the "Look Inside" preview available there.

One thing that jumped out at me is that the author is from Spain and has not credited a translator. Given her education, it is likely that she is fluent in English; however, having studied with several non-native-speakers, there will always be some level of language barrier. Now, we have many, many wonderful members who have first hand knowledge of language barriers and how they can impact study -- please know that my concern is NOT an attempt to insult or discredit you; rather, I want to call out that misunderstandings are more likely to happen in the translated written word, when there is no possibility of direct interaction to clarify.

Now, turning to what I can see in the preview, I will try to find revealing quotes (citing pages to protect copyright) -- moderators, please contact me or strike the post if this becomes a concern.

On the unnumbered page after the title, in the "Warning," there are some fragmented sentences that raise an eyebrow, " . . .; if the teacher does not manage to keep the students with her in further courses, or generally, if she does not get results." I believe she is trying to release liability in case you are not successful as a teacher.

The section on "What a Teacher Needs to Know" is only two pages long.

The Introduction on page seven seems to clarify that "didactic" as used here means lesson plans and handouts. She presents prepared lessons with warmups, choreographies, worksheets, and surveys to see how effective you were in presenting her material. Through the introduction, she indicates that this is designed to both a) save the prospective teacher time and b) to resolve the question of what to teach.

Page 9 has a very interesting observation that, "The technique is necessary for the students to learn to dance. It is not possible to teach now to dance without teaching technique. In the didactic units it is not said how a step is performed since it is not the objective of the present book. The technique to teach or review is enumerated . . . " Reading that, I see an acknowledgment that technique will be critical for the students to learn effectively, but that it will have to be gathered from another source. So, our prospective teacher has a gap to fill.

Then, skipping ahead to the preview of page 190, our prospective teacher must then use the information from the didactic unit chapters for context, then (I assume learn, then teach) the choreography on page 190. No specific song is specified, just a rhythm. I have tried to learn choreographies in the past, and even when I know the teacher VERY well, I will confess I have never been able to learn on solely by reading its printed version. I suspect I am not alone in this regard. The choreography presented here is slightly contradictory (moving forward, but crossing feet front, then back) and does not detail the transition movements. Perhaps a prospective teacher could use this effectively; but, I could not.

Aziyade, I look forward to your comments.

Regards,

Anala
 

Aniseteph

New member
It desperately needs a native English speaker to edit it; in places it is pretty impenetrable, and I can't help wondering how much time and effort (and previous knowledge) you'd need to put into deciphering the choreographies and other content before trying to teach it.

If there isn't specified music for these choreographies they are just drills IMO.

And if anyone gave me a handout or tried to teach rhythmic structure using the soft cheese shop analogy I would think they had lost the plot.
 

PracticalDancer

New member
I couldn't even comment on how she compared rhythms to soft cheeses. Now that I have gotten over the shock, I can say that it is the weakest of analogies at best and borderline offensively ignorant in explanation. I think I am offended because arabic rhythms are not just "little packages" in a song -- they have context, some history, and even some meaning when in the right context. I had to stop reading at that point, because it just troubled me so much . . .
 

Belly Love

New member
I don't think one has to be a great dancer to teach, but I think they should be. I feel this way about all subjects in life- who would want to learn from someone who is mediocre in any subject, especially if you're paying them as a professional??? Not me.
 

shiradotnet

Well-known member
I think that before starting to teach, a dancer should have considerable performing experience specifically in belly dance[/i], preferably being paid a professional wage comparable to that charged by other professionals in her area. Other dance forms don't count. It needs to be belly dance.

Now, I realize that some people due to age, body type, day job conflicts, etc. may find it difficult to spend time out doing professional gigs, but if that's not an option the would-be teachers should get lots of performing experience at belly dance events and other such non-professional venues.

I don't think it's necessary for teachers to perform at the skill level of a highly-sought-after workshop/DVD instructor. But they do need to have a skill level that's equal to a competent, experienced professional dancer. They should certainly be better than the advanced-level students going to other teachers' classes in the area.

And yes, the dancer also needs to possess teaching skills before starting to teach. Both generic teaching skills and sensible exercise/movement teaching skills.
 
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