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 Post subject: Four Letter Words - and WORSE
PostPosted: Wed Nov 01, 2000 6:32 am 
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Joined: Mon Oct 02, 2000 11:01 pm
Posts: 13071
Location: San Diego, California, USA
We have a thread on what we should say - but how about what should never be said in ballet class?<P>Words can hurt more than almost anything else. We remember a hurtful word almost more than a hurtful action. Especially in ballet class where we are on "display" before others and vulnerable.<P>What should we as teachers avoid saying?<P>What should we encourage our students to avoid saying? to themselves? to others?<P>


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 Post subject: Re: Four Letter Words - and WORSE
PostPosted: Wed Nov 01, 2000 1:42 pm 
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Location: Guildford, Surrey, UK
I think the word wrong can be very destructive i try and think of others ways of puuting it like "perhaps it might look better if you'd tried it this way." With some of my older girls if they danced a routine really badly I will say "that was dreadful" or "a bit dodgy" (that has become a bit of a catchphrase at my classes for anything that looks strange)but in a jokey way and they usually respond with a laugh but try harder next time. <P>Anything relating to a person's size or shape can also be difficult so always phrase this with care - i.e. when discussing costumes etc.


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 Post subject: Re: Four Letter Words - and WORSE
PostPosted: Wed Nov 01, 2000 3:04 pm 
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Joined: Mon Oct 02, 2000 11:01 pm
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Location: San Diego, California, USA
I try to avoid saying anything negative. Usually everything that would be negative can be turned into a positive. <P>Instead of me saying - that is wrong - I would say - "you might try it this way" - or "I think that this would be a better way". Saying "it is wrong" doesn't help the student at all - and just has a very "down" attitude.<P>But students, both children and adults, can say hurtful things too. And, for this the teacher's attitude is crucial. Some teachers like to set up a competitve atmosphere in class. That can become very destructive. <P>What are some of the worst things you have heard either or a teacher say in ballet class?<BR>


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 Post subject: Re: Four Letter Words - and WORSE
PostPosted: Wed Nov 01, 2000 3:50 pm 
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Joined: Sat Apr 29, 2000 11:01 pm
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Location: USA
I think I was about 9, and struggling with 5th. The teacher, (not the regular one at the time) said, after prodding on me a bit, "You ain't built right, dearie." She meant it as somewhat of a joke, but I was too young for it.<P> On a funnier note, I was taking a master class with George Zoritch, formerly with Ballet Russe. He had a very thick accent. He asked me a question in class. I had not the slightest understanding of what he said. I asked him to repeat it, and still couldn't understand. Everyone is watching me waiting for my answer. The room was very quiet. Well, I did know it was a yes or no question, so I thought I would answer with the positive sounding yes. He just stared at me a moment, then slapped his forehead and said, "You must be psychic!" then turned to the accompanist to ask for the next music.<P>Let me say here that the way he said it, he thought I was nuts. After class, I asked the others what he had asked me. Nobody knew. They couldn't understand him either. To this day I still don't know what he asked me.


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 Post subject: Re: Four Letter Words - and WORSE
PostPosted: Wed Nov 01, 2000 4:35 pm 
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Location: Australia
oh maggie! 2 sad stories!<P>basheva, sometimes i outlaw the word "can't"! - as in 'but i can't do that'......<P>we refer to "can't" as a four-letter word....<P>i agree with joanne, who has said that any comments about size and shape need to be made with the utmost care....which is often hard when you need to 'get on with' things, whether it is a technical/physical description or a costume matter.<P>

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 Post subject: Re: Four Letter Words - and WORSE
PostPosted: Wed Nov 01, 2000 5:14 pm 
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Location: San Diego, California, USA
The word "can't" was absolutely banished from my classroom. I used to remind my students that "work" and "love" are four letter words too.<P>The worst I ever heard said by a teacher (an otherwise fine teacher, too) to a student was "if you don't fix your arms I am going to cut them off and leave the bloody stumps".<P>I know that's hard to believe, but I was there and heard it.<P>Well, here's another that I heard "You did well today, I am really surprised". That student burst into tears.


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 Post subject: Re: Four Letter Words - and WORSE
PostPosted: Tue Nov 07, 2000 6:00 am 
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Joined: Thu Jun 29, 2000 11:01 pm
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Location: Canberra, ACT, Australia
can't is banned in any class i teach. all my students think its hilarious and try and find ways around the rule. (incidentally, I'm not in favour of young relatively untrained teachers like myself, however I'm just helping out a friend who is in the middle of moving and only teach them once a week). I also try to build a feeling that the whole class is a team, that they are working together towards their goals... But I'm not immune from giving them a stern lecture "if your attitude doesn't improve, you may leave my classroom"<P>Some fairly nasty things have been said to and around me in class. I'll just list some, though not all have been directed at me<BR>"We won't put you in that line, because it will make you look fatter being surrounded by skinny girls". "you are the cause of all the bitchiness in this school " "If you get any fatter you can forget about doing pointe" "The reason (insert girls name) is doing all these auditions is because she is the only one with a future in dance" "You think you should be in the front of the line? You don't even know what your doing. Go to the back and maybe you'll learn something" "the only reason you passed your exam is because you can pull out 'performance' value" (that was completely disregarding the fact i worked so hard for that exam, and that a week later, i was in hospital with glandular fever). Last night my choreographer for the show I'm in told me "Oh for christs sake, grow up. Your not in ballet shcool anymore, this is theatre." (This is when i expressed concern a table i had to dance on was not sufficiently stable to hold my body weight)<P>And once, my ballet teachers mother told us in all seriousness we were being such brats we were going to give our teacher cancer and kill her.<P>I worry that there are more teachers like this around. A ballet teacher has far more influence on a students life than they realise. Is child psychology part of many teaching certificates?<P>Can I keep going? I'm working some rage out... its better than therapy Image


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 Post subject: Re: Four Letter Words - and WORSE
PostPosted: Tue Nov 07, 2000 7:44 am 
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Location: San Diego, California, USA
MOGER - you can keep going as look as you like - or need too!!! <P>I think that words can be so damaging - so much more than a slap. Words are a mental slap. The sting doesn't go away.<P>I told my students that "can't" and "won't" are not permissible in class - but "love" and "work" are. <P>Like you said Moger - it can become a joke fun thing in class as they find ways around it. One fairly young lady said to me in all seriousness one day "I am not at this moment capable of executing this step - but I am working on it". <P>Another thing I have heard teachers say when a student asked a question - "What a dumb question!!"<P>I don't think there are dumb questions - but I do think sometimes, there are dumb answers - and occasionally I am SURE I have given them. <P>Dance class can be a very vulnerable place. Everyone is on "display" both physically and mentally and special care is needed. Sometimes teachers can get into a mindset that the class or student is purposefully doing it wrong. I had a teacher like that - and he was otherwise a fine teacher - but that was a major flaw. We were all adults - no one came to class early in the morning to purposefully do it wrong..........


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 Post subject: Re: Four Letter Words - and WORSE
PostPosted: Tue Nov 07, 2000 3:43 pm 
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Joined: Mon Feb 21, 2000 12:01 am
Posts: 4725
Location: Australia
hi moger - long time no read! Image<P>so, now you are teaching! i thought maybe your absence was due to TEE? (for non-initiates, TEE is australian Tertiary Entrance Examinations = high school graduation/big deal exams, like UK 'A' levels).<P>anyway, i was horrified by your post - i have NEVER heard such things. NEVER! what shocking teacher/s you must have had? were they 'good' in other respects?<P>you ask:<P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Is child psychology part of many teaching certificates?<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P>it never used to be, but increasingly it IS. all such changes are slow, though....obviously more needed than i realised, if there are still teachers out there saying thing slike this! Image<P>poor you!<P>and watch out for that table (!)- if THEY won't take care of YOU, YOU have to take care of yourself. good luck.<P>and please stay around - i've missed you. Image

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 Post subject: Re: Four Letter Words - and WORSE
PostPosted: Wed Nov 08, 2000 12:00 am 
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Joined: Fri Sep 22, 2000 11:01 pm
Posts: 34
Location: italy
To obtain a RAD diploma you have, among other things, to pass a written examinationa regarding child psychology. This doesn't mean that every teacher holding a RAD diploma knows how to deal with young dancers. The art of teaching is a gift you must have inside, and every teacher knows how hard he/she must work every day of his/her life to be at least a good teacher (as perfection doesn't exist in human nature). <BR>Some years ago, I used to take classes with an old teacher who has been a rather famous dancer and has a wide knowledge of ballet. But he was always sarcastic about us, he didn't miss any occasion to laugh at us and use ridicolous metaphors to explain how bad we were (we were all ballet teachers and not very young anymore!). This seems a quite common attitude, above all among old teachers, as if ridiculing someone is a way to make him eager to improve Image. I stopped going to his classes as instead of improving I was getting worse and worse. Even adults need to be encouraged Image! Anyway, this was a good example for me of how a teacher SHOULD NOT behave. antoP.


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 Post subject: Re: Four Letter Words - and WORSE
PostPosted: Wed Nov 08, 2000 10:13 am 
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Location: San Diego, California, USA
I think learning from example - which is what happens to most of us - is both a positive and negative experience. We can often take what is a negative experience and turn it into a positive experience, as you said AntoP - you learned what never to do.


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 Post subject: Re: Four Letter Words - and WORSE
PostPosted: Wed Nov 08, 2000 12:52 pm 
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Joined: Tue Sep 05, 2000 11:01 pm
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Location: Guildford, Surrey, UK
As I have said before on another post - There is no such thing as a stupid question only a stupid person who doesn't ask. This is something we should all try and remember as teachers.<P>Not matter how stupid or obvious a student's question may seem they are obviuosly asking because they don't know the answer. We should feel proud that they trust us enough to give them a good answer. No matter how frustrating take a deep breath and try and naswer as thoroughly as you can.


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