Hints and Tips for SCD - Teaching

Giving feedback

Marilynn Knight asked on the Strathspey mailing list:
I earnestly wonder how others communicate areas to work on for individuals? I believe I will offer to do so for those students who would like a useful critique. But I think it is a delicate area.
Here is a summary of the discussion which ensued. As well as the general discussion, some people gave guidelines, and there was a discussion of methods of dancers opting in to (or out of) personal critique. Marilynn Knight proposed giving the class an introduction to be sure they were all aware of what they were in for, and there was a discussion of the use of touch in teaching. Priscilla Burrage suggested getting the class members to observe each other.

General discussion:

Some people gave general guidelines: Others discussed ways for people to opt in (or out) of directed critique: Marilynn Knight proposed giving the class an intro at the start of the year, saying I submit this to 'strathspey' for comment, as I feel I must present something akin this to my class of beginners of various levels/abilities before they "fly the coop" making assumptions because I was too general, too positive(I think).
Here we are a Social Dance, rather than Performance Dance! Yet, we represent that aspect of Scottish Country Dance known as The Royal Society of Scottish Country Dance. The dilemma here is that RSCDS has very clear standards. For me, as a teacher(and as a dancer), I waver between encouraging and yet needing to make you aware of standards.

Standards exist for many reasons:

Safety, safety on all levels. Injuries of all types can occur when the dancing is improperly done.

To make the dancing more enjoyable, for both the individual and the group.

RSCDS is done all over the world by peoples who do not even share a common spoken language. Therefore, the "language" of the dance must be very clearly understood. This is achieved by adhering to universal standards.

No one likes to be a "poster child". If the teacher does not make a student aware, many a student will not deal with his or her own tendency to practice a form that is not really acceptable.

I have to assume my students want to dance all over the world. Therefore, I must prepare you to dance in a way that will be acceptable to others. In fact, my ego aside, I want you to be able to dance with the most elegant of dancers. That, to me, implies awareness on your part.

Therefore, I leave it you each of you individually to ask for a private evaluation when you are ready. If you are comfortable with occasional open comments in class, let me know. I have no desire to embarrass anyone. On the other hand, when I see incorrect style being repeated, I feel an obligation to make you aware.

Usually I come to class after a very long, hard day at the office, usually starting my day extremely early in the morning. I teach this class as my gift to you and to RSCDS generally. I watch you learn to dance to music I yearn to dance to with outstanding dancers. If you appreciate the class, let me know that. If I am sometimes less than as diplomatic as I would like, understand it is not intentional.

If you would like an individual evaluation in September, please let me know soon.

On the subject of touching people to show them what to do: Priscilla Burrage suggested getting the class members to observe each other:
See also the other hints and tips sections:
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ian@scottishdance.net
Edinburgh, Scotland

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Last modified 8-10-02
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