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Why Are You So Stupid?


“Oh, sorry. You’re in my way”.

“You stepped on my foot! You’re moving too fast”.

"You were, actually, in my way because you’re moving too slowly. Can’t you hear the beat?”

“I hear the beat just fine, thank you. You can’t count. Follow me!”

“But, I’m leading; you follow me. I’m right”.

“You can’t lead when you can’t hear the music., and you wouldn’t have stepped on my foot if I could feel your leads.”

“I hear the music just fine; it’s ‘Slow, Slow, Quick, Quick’. Just do it!”

“You’re an idiot! Listen, it’s 1-2, 3-4, Quick and…”

“You can’t mix quicks and numbers; I’m an idiot!?”

“Oh, it stopped. It’s over. Well, wasn’t that lovely?”

“Yeah. I love dancing”.

“Me too. May I have this next one?”

“Well, I’d be glad to”.

(excerpt from "DanceKinesis: The Missing Dimension in Ballroom and Latin Dance")

Have you ever wondered why someone in the same class as you, received the same instruction as you, but couldn't do what the teacher asked? Have you ever wondered why they couldn't; do the step, remember the count, straighten their legs, not straighten their legs, offer proper lead/resistance, or do one simple thing right? Have you ever looked at your partner and thought, "Why are you so stupid?"

Perhaps, you have never said it in quite that way, but it is, in essence, what you meant. You knew what 'you' were doing. As a matter of fact, you knew it so well that you could even tell the others what they were supposed to be doing. Modesty, politeness, and the "Oh, please, just kill me now..." political correctness of the moment, might have caused you to say something like, "I'm not trying to tell you what to do....", or "I think you should.....", but the underlying thought was, "You're not doing this right", and usually it was about something that was just learned in class.

Well, the answer is simple, but it is an answer in two parts.

Part 1 is, no two persons learn in the same manner.

  • What type of learner are you? Perhaps, you've never even thought about it.

  • How do you learn?

  • Are you a good learner?

  • Do you forget in the short or long term?

I am certain that being a degreed and certified psychologist helped me to be a successful dance teacher and coach. Among other things, I am very aware of how my students are learning.

Since this is a dance blog and not a psych blog, we will not go too deeply into the behaviors of learning, but here are the top few. How do you learn?

1. Internalization - This person learns everything from the vantage point of him/herself. They internalize everything, and relate what they are learning to their own past experiences, past learning, cognitive thinking, and scope of reality. The internalist might be one to ask, "How is this going to benefit me?" They remember and study that which makes sense to them, and discard the rest. This makes the internalist a rather narrow thinker and shallow learner. This doesn't mean that he/she is not smart. It simply means that they rarely have all of the facts because they have not learned the ones that seemingly have no relevance or understanding in their lives. (Ex: "I've been dancing for 10 years, and have never heard this before. I don't believe it's right".)

2. Interrogator - "How does this step go, and how do I lead it? Well, what about the feet, and when does she turn? Yeah, I understand that, but when............?" The interrogator's brain is in a race with the teacher's. Often, it is difficult for the Interrogator to learn as quickly as the Internalizer because the Interrogator's brain is asking a new question before it has processed the former one. This person is not a bad learner, just very often a slower one. Even though they are asking for and receiving info quicker than others, they do have the ability to store parts of the information. He/She doesn't only ask these questions of others, they will continue to ask them of themselves after the formal learning session is over. This is good because it causes repetition which aids in committing learning to memory.

3. Assimilation - Although some memory gurus swear by these 'tricks', I do not like this technique. Assimilators are a type of Internalizer in that they remember by applying the information to something that makes sense to them that will help to jog their memories when the need arises. (Ex: If someone approached an assimilator, and said, "Hello, my name is Earl", the assimilator might picture that person in a royal setting and dressed in royal garb, perhaps even equating the sound of the man's voice with something befitting their idea of who and what an 'earl' might be). For me, this just gives me more things to try to learn about this person. I would fear that upon seeing him again I would go through my made-up, assimilated check list, and say loudly and proudly, "Hello Duke!"

4. Visualization - Visualizers are good learners. They see things in pictures. They see meanings in shapes and forms. Of course, Visualizers make good artists; they can see the painting, see the music, and see the dance. Often, you hear that the visual artist cannot be a good mathematician because math is a left-brained activity. This is untrue. Though the left brain might be more inclined to figure out a math problem, when presented with 2 + 2, for example, the Visualizer can see the 2 equal parts, and' deduce' 4. Visualizers tend to be quick learners.

5. Memorization - When I was in theatre, a director once told me to never memorize anything. He said that if I memorized a script, that a sneeze, an unexpected door closing, laughter, a prop being out of place, or a missed cue could cause me to 'forget', until a whisper from the script girl in the wings, or a 'pick-up line' from another actor jogged my memory. Memorizers might or might not be quick learners depending upon their mental strengths, however Memorizers are always playing Russian Roulette with that which they have learned, never certain if it will be prone to recall in a moment's notice.

6. Aquiescence - I say quite often, and only half in jest, "Please, explain it to me like I'm a 2 year old" (a line that I borrow from Denzel Washington in the movie "Phiadelphia"). What others don't know is that I am not only seeking to have the explanation made as simply as possible, I am seeking to make the learning as simple as possible. I am an Acquiescent. A child doesn't stop to process whether it makes sense that the sky is blue, or that fire is hot, or that a dog might bite. The child merely accepts what is before it as truth... not truth in the sense of truth or falsehood --that's the Internalist-- but, truth as in is or is not. The child has no natural doubt of the sky, no natural expectation of the fire, nor a fear of the dog. Acquiescents make great learners because they are the most opened to learning without limitations. They learn very quickly and forget very rarely.

Of course, one may be more than one type of learner and thinker, as most of us are. So, the next time you are in class, and your partner is not doing what you think they should, maybe they are not stupid, and do not need your interjection. Perhaps they are a different kind of learner, at a different part of their own learning curve. What you learned, and the way that you learned it, might not be right at all, or, maybe just not right for everyone else.

Part 2, coming soon. I'd love to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment; subscribe to the blog; and, browse around the site. Most importantly, tell your friends to do the same. A bientôt.

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