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Ballroom Dance

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

What's Your Theory?

We each have some theory, or belief, about what we think we know, and what we do is very much based on what we think we know. If we do something, for example, teach, then we base what we do on what we think we know about teaching. Our theories might not stand up to scrutiny, but they exist nonetheless, validated or not. If there has been no attempt at validation, the theories are most likely invalid. Invalid presumptiveness is a pervasive problem with the amateur teacher, and it is also a problem with the "professional" teacher who, by their superior knowledge in some subject or skill, presume that they can teach. Colleges, universities, community education programs and ballroom dance studios are replete with examples of "teachers" who, from observing their classes, have no valid theory of learning. They seem to know little or nothing about the psychology or human learning or, if they do, disregard it, deliberately to prolong the learning process.

In almost every dance class I have attended, learning was limited because the dance teacher violated basic principles of learning; mental capacity was overloaded, information was illogically sequenced, requisite information was neglected, repetition was inadequate for retention. This need not be the case; by following a few, well-known principles of learning, dance classes could be comfortable, efficient, and effective. Most dance lessons, especially the pre-dance lessons, are designed for entertainment, not learning. Applying a few elementary principles of learning could make them effective as well as entertaining. That both teachers and students tolerate this sad state of affairs does not speak well of the intelligence of our species.

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