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Ballroom Dance

J M (Mike) Nelson
Phone: 612-810-0157

Selecting A Dance Teacher

Selecting A Dance Teacher

Some dancers teach, and some teachers dance, but don't assume that a ballroom dance instructor can do either. Here are a few questions you might ask a prospective teacher.

What are your teaching credentials?
Knowing something does not mean a person can teach it.

What learning theories guide your instructional design?
Psychologists know a lot about learning, but that research has had little effect on adult education, including colleges and universities. Unregulated adult education is particularly subject to a wide range of instructional design competence, and there is no state regulation for adult dance instruction.

How do you structure your curriculum?
Which syllabus do you follow? Is it nationally recognized? There are standard syllabi for most social dance styles; this should be an easy question.

How do you use research?
How has the research of Wertheimer, Miller, Skinner, Thorndike or learning theorists influenced your class design?

How often do you attend public dances?
Some dance teachers regularly attend public dances; others rarely dance except during class.

Which dance styles do you dance in public?
Some teachers only know enough to teach, not enough to dance.

Where do your students go to dance?
Some teachers can provide you with a wide range of information about how to use what they purport to teach; others seem to know little about where to practice what they teach, except, for some, at their own studio parties.

How many critical items, whether cognitive or psychomotor, do you introduce in each lesson, and do you have a list of them? If you've made it this far, you are likely interested in getting the most for your effort, so this is the most important question for any teacher. If they cannot answer that question definitively, then they cannot say for sure whether or not the average person can comprehend and retain the material in their lessons. If they cannot give you a list of the specific requisites for mastery of each lesson, then they clearly have given little thought as to what they are about.

For an overview of how this relates to dance lessons, see Why Our Ballroom Dance Classes are Better. At least why I think so.

For a summary of some related learning theories, see Learning Theories

For an outline of the task analysis, see Dance Instruction Assessment

For insight into how facts about short term memory influenced the design of Ballroom Basics, see Applied Theory

For more about the relationship between the traditional and the Nelson Studio approach, see A Side By Side Comparison

For more about how this approach evolved, see: Teaching Ballroom Dance: A Rationale For an Alternative Approach Dance Home Page Dance Curriculum Dance Articles

Copyright (c) 2006, J. M. Nelson. All rights reserved. Reproduction of contents prohibited without prior permission from the author.