Friday, December 3, 2010

The Thinking Dancer Topic 6 ~ Reflecting on Learning

Foreword: After teaching for some years now, I have been reflecting a lot on learning -- in terms of both speed, as well as our attitudes towards it.

Children seem to have this determination to want to do their best. the younger they are, the more they want it. It could be for praise, for ego-boosting, for happiness, for the love of the teacher, for the love of the activity, for personal satisfaction, for self-worth. Whatever the does them good.

Why do we slowly lose it as we get older? Do we get more used to failure? Do we accept that we cant do some things? Why cant we know that we have our limits, and yet still strive for the best?

There was once when i was teaching a primary 1 class. We were doing stretching. Some girls were struggling.

One big mouth said "I cant do it!"....and I could see the rest of them slowly starting to give up and telling me that they also couldnt do it.

I had to do some crowd control: "There's no such thing called 'I cant do it'....there's only a thing called I'll try my best"...."I'm not expecting you to get a perfect split today...all I want to see is that you try your say can't....say try".

They perked up a little.

I asked them, "so...what should you say??"

The cute little things replied, "try"

Sometimes as I teach adult classes, I do see the look of determination in some. And yet...there are others who give in too readily. We think that we're too old to learn new things. We sometimes sign up for courses with the mindset that we are trying things out...and will accept fate if we turn out not being able to do well in it....get discouraged, and stop trying.

Why do kids keep going for classes every week, trying so hard to please the teacher and their parents (and themselves)? They (and their parents) know it's gona take a long time to be a good dancer or musician or karate-master....and they may not even become one at the end of it. I'm not saying that all grown ups don't have determination....its just that I feel that a lot of us get defeated just by the thought of "age". Cant we also just keep trying for more than 10yrs? Or are we seeking instant results...and when it doesnt happen, we give up?

Ahhh...and the last thing this reflection leads to: is the process or the end the most important?


Anonymous said...

thanks, i needed to hear that, i have always loved to dance, but was not able to take many formal classes. i have been self studying middle eastern dance a couple of yyears and now am in formal classes for 2 months. i just turned 55. so, i may even take some ballet. i have p0cked a lot up on my own, but i love dance instructors teachings, we must never give up on any dream, we can realistically fullfiill,great article!happy holidays,gypsy

Johanna said...

You make a really good point here. If you love to dance, do not ever stop trying to improve! Yes, as you get older, your body loses some of its youthful vigor. That doesn´t mean you should lay down and accept defeat! It is possible to advance and to learn and master new things, even as an adult.

I was a late starter, ancient in fact (first ballet class at 21). Now, some 16+ years later, I´m still dancing. And loving every bit of it. Also, I have superb teachers who push me beyond my (perceived) limits. I will never stop trying!

Like your blog very much!