Taking breaks is an important learning device

Darshiva

Moderator
For the past two years I've been incorporating a cuppa break into my classes & workshops every 45-60 minutes to give students time to recover, their brains time to rest & some valuable Q&A time. The following link shows that I have been on the right track with this (as does feedback from attendees & students)

Taking breaks improves practice (Science Alert)
 

Mosaic

Super Moderator
That is so true! I always find that if I practice and practice something after about 3 run throughs, I begin to make mistakes - forget what i am meant to be doing & make a right mess of things LOL! I thought I was just weird & going senile, that I should get better with each run. OK I'll forgive myself now:D
~Mosaic
 

Yame

New member
I'm all for breaks but I think a break every hour is overdoing it. Depending on how mentally or physically strenuous a given activity is then it may be necessary, but for the most part I don't think belly dance in particular is neither physical nor mental enough to require that many breaks.

But it sort of depends on what you consider a break. If it's just a matter of running to the back of the room, getting a few sips of water, and running back, this is something that should be allowed or incorporated into any class, even if it's just an hour long. Anything more (5 minutes, 10 minutes, etc) should only happen every 2 or 3 hours, IMO. I can't stand going to a 2 or 3 hour workshop that gets constantly interrupted for breaks. Especially when they say "only 5 minutes!" and then it ends up taking 15.
 

Mosaic

Super Moderator
I'm all for breaks but I think a break every hour is overdoing it. Depending on how mentally or physically strenuous a given activity is then it may be necessary, but for the most part I don't think belly dance in particular is neither physical nor mental enough to require that many breaks.

But it sort of depends on what you consider a break. If it's just a matter of running to the back of the room, getting a few sips of water, and running back, this is something that should be allowed or incorporated into any class, even if it's just an hour long. Anything more (5 minutes, 10 minutes, etc) should only happen every 2 or 3 hours, IMO. I can't stand going to a 2 or 3 hour workshop that gets constantly interrupted for breaks. Especially when they say "only 5 minutes!" and then it ends up taking 15.
True Yame, constant breaks could be disruptive and expensive if you're paying for a class/WS. In class we might stop to grab a few sips of water, the class doesn't actually stop, the teacher may be changing music or explaining something and those who need a drink will quietly grab a few sips.

I just find that if we are doing a couple of hours full on practice of a choreo, after a few repeats I start to make mistakes and that is darn frustrating ( I think the brain/body goes into a meltdown mode:D), then I feel I need to break or change to something else for 5 mins or so.
~Mosaic
 

Darshiva

Moderator
I strongly disagree. I've had good (above average) retention in my classroom from people who admit to me that they don't practice outside of the once a month class. They are improving at a faster rate than the students I had in the weekly classes who practiced up to 3 hours a week in their own time. Does that alone not speak wonders for my method?

The cuppa break is about 2 minutes of gossip (how are you going, what are your kids up to) while cuppas are being made, then it's straight into dissecting the class, covering anything that is unclear, etc. If people misuse the opportunity to recap whilst everything is fresh (including the questions!) that's their concern, but if you want retention you do need to relax & let it sink in.
 

Janene Aliza

New member
Wow, that's impressive, Darshiva !! :)

That definitely seems to be how it works for me -- once I've initially grasped a move and seem to be doing it properly, after a while I have to move on to something else.

Also, when I was in school, some of my teachers suggested that if you don't remember the answer to a test question, skip it and move on to the next one (then come back to it later). You're brain will subconsciously keep working on that original question and you'll remember the answer (it really worked for me, too!!) Sounds like the same concept that you are describing.
 

Darshiva

Moderator
I think that's why there are so many different types of class, Janene. Some people learn really well with the cram method, but others work exceptionally well with the 'well earned holiday' method.

Brains are funny things!
 

Shanazel

Super Moderator
I consistently forget to take breaks. My father was the same way; I suspect it is genetic.

At least once during a 90 minute class I try to remember to say, "Go grab a drink of water" but most of my students manage to ward off dehydration on their own.

Belly dance in the Rockies ain't for sissies.:cool:
 

Ariadne

Well-known member
I read a study years ago that said after 45 minutes your ability to take in and process information decreased and after an hour forget it, paraphrased of course, so I can't say it's really anything new. I have noticed that just a 5 minutes break can make all the difference.
 

walladah

New member
Yes, it holds!!!

And it holds in any learning activity, like learning a new language/skill, working on a research project, learning a choreography or playing the piano...

Of course, as already mentioned here, a break is necessary if you are practicing regularly, i.e. every day. If you go once per week to attend a 1,5 hour lesson, without practicing at home, then what break from the activity do you want? the activity itself is a break...

And actually, concerning dance, the breaks are even more important, because it is not only about neurons and brains to have some time to make their new connections and digest the new stuff. Our muscles and bones need also time to repair themselves, otherwise we get prone to accidents.

THis is why everyday practice should not exceed normally the 2,5 hours... moreover, this is why when we work on a choreo or a new dance project, we need to have some time NOT to work on it!! [not to stop practice, but at least getting to work on other themes] because both bodies and minds need to accomodate themselves with the new stuff and this is not possible to be done when we keep feeding them everyday with the same food.

Breaks are parts of learning process, sometimes of even re-defining our relation to the entire activity itself...

A good friend had told me many years ago when i was complaining that depending on the conditions around and my own mood, i might not play the piano regularly as i was supposed to, so my technique was not advancing... "ok, you might lose in technique, but you gain in interpretation". Interpretation (ermeneia in Greek) means the expression of feelings and of the inner meaning of an artwork, and interpretation cannot be taught in art, it comes through maturity and personal development.
 

Greek Bonfire

Well-known member
THis is why everyday practice should not exceed normally the 2,5 hours... moreover, this is why when we work on a choreo or a new dance project, we need to have some time NOT to work on it!! [not to stop practice, but at least getting to work on other themes] because both bodies and minds need to accomodate themselves with the new stuff and this is not possible to be done when we keep feeding them everyday with the same food.
Word. And by taking a short break of one day from the same theme, it's amazing how our bodies "remember" even if we don't trust our minds to do that.
 

atisheh

New member
Hear, hear.

I often find that I'll struggle with a new move in class, be frustrated, and then a day or two later it will just "come" to me. It's really about sleeping on it, letting it seep down, practicing some more, and then letting my neurons do their thing.
 

Chani

New member
I had always been used to 1 hour dance classes. Then I started at a new school where the class was 2 hours long...but we had so many breaks...basically we danced for only 1 hour in total and the rest was breaks where everybody chatted about non bd things. What I noticed was that in the 1 hour class, when I got home, unless I revised, by the morning I had forgotten what we covered in the last 15 minutes or of the 1 hour class. In the 2 hours class with all the breaks I remembered everything easily without any revision.

I was chatting with my hubby about this and he told me that the military have worked out that teaching in 15 minute blocks is the most effective. The activity between sessions isn't important but it is important that you learn in no more than 15 minutes blocks and between the 15 minute blocks you do something completely different - a complete switch of mental and physical activity. You could even be learning two different things simultaneously alternating 15 minute blocks.
 

Shanazel

Super Moderator
My class meets on Wednesday and lasts an hour and a half. Chani, you convince me to try teaching in fifteen minute blocks and see what my students think of the results. Thanks for the idea and I'll let you know what happens.

Of course, I get so centered on what I'm doing that someone will have to be assigned to giving me the high sign when (not if) I forget the break.;)
 

Chani

New member
Initially, I was quite annoyed at the amount of talking in my 2hr class and a few other dancers were complaining, too. I wanted to dance non stop and felt I wasn't getting my money's worth - until I noticed I was retaining more...and given that my memory isn't that great I decided I liked the breaks and I also noticed it gave the dancers a chance to bond more in class.

I have experienced amnesia before several times and as I said my memory isn't great in general so I am interested in memory and as a homeschooling Mum I am interested in how humans learn.

That will be an interesting experiment, Shanazel. Please report back.

BTW in that 2 hours class I learned 18 chories in 2 terms - I didn't think that was possible for me.

I'm now in another class - 1 hour non stop - but I utilise the 15 minutes block system when practicing at home. I usually clean in the break so by the time I have finished dance practice my loungeroom is tidy. Bonus.
 

Chani

New member
Hehe, yes, 18 chories! I still can't believe I did it. I decided when we had our hafla to sit out for 4 of the dances - I was doing them in class but didn't feel that confident - but 14 was still a feat. The dances were very simple...even though we were an advanced class they were dances that a beginner could handle...which surprised me when I took my very first class with her...until I realised why - it was a matter of quantity over difficulty.

When I reported back to my old dance class - where anybody coping with 4 chories at one time would moan about their impossible workload they were astounded - one woman blurted out "That's ridiculous". I agree but that's how it was in that class.

As well as the longer class with breaks the teacher (who was in her 80's mind you so a very experienced dancer and teacher) had a unique style of teaching - you didn't get the chories broken down (although you could ask for clarification along the way or after class) but you simply stood at the back of the class and followed along until you got them. At first it was awful. I muffed my way through. By the 4th week some dances were starting to be part of my body memory and they just seemed to fall into place. Much different from the slow meticulous way I had learned dances before. Only 4 of those 18 chories were ever written out. We usually did around 8 dances each class. Leading up to the hafla those last few classes we simply ran through all 18 chories back to back.

Apparently, the dances also evolved because the dancers who had bee with that teacher a long time would talk about how they used to do certain parts of certain dances differently. It seemed they evolved organically - somebody might suggest changing a move and if everybody liked the change they stuck with it.

And in my new class we are learning just one little chorie, it's only a wee 2.5 minutes long. Too easy, it feels like I'm on holidays hehe.
 
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Darshiva

Moderator
Chani, who did the 2 hour classes in that format? I do a 2 hour block of teaching which equates to 45 mins class time/30 minute break/45 mins class time, and as I said earlier I've had far greater student progression & retention from that format than from the 60-90 minute blocks I was teaching before.
 

Chani

New member
Hi Darshiva,

I'm unsure if you mean which teacher taught like that or which students learned like that? The teacher was Midge Bennett in Sydney, Australia - she has only just retired from teaching a couple of months ago. The students were mixed levels with between 1 and 5 years training from all different backgrounds.

That's interesting that you have seen better progress with the split class.
 
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