Like Picard says- Engage!

Like Picard says- Engage!

The 5-E learning cycle isn’t just an exercise in alliteration (although awesome).  It has been shown in studies to teach not just a superficial level of content, but understanding and mastery.  Each step is important, and there are some ways you can tweak your own lesson experience to make your Tango take leaps and bounds, instead of bourrée level progress.

E-1: Engage!

This is, surprisingly, the hard one.  You not only need to be engaged by the subject matter, but there needs to be a connection struck between what you already know and what you are going to learn.  Teachers in adult education often take engagement for granted, because you can always leave if you don’t want to be there.  The more important level of engagement is lost when we don’t attempt to engage you at the beginning of a lesson though.

How many times have you started with repetitive drill work?  Even though you know drills are important, doesn’t it seem a little boring each time?  As a teacher I can easily watch a class warm up and take stock of the level of each dancer to help my planning, but I will have already missed the important engagement step.  I think back to one of the most insightful teachers I ever had, and his classes often started with games.  These games have, to me, seemed juvenile at times- but there was a level of engagement in them that is lacking from many classes.  It is a way to bridge the non-Tango world with the Tango, and it allows you to start to truly understand the techniques even before they are taught to you.  Also, it is fun!

How can you engage yourself when you don’t have this level of support from your teacher?  (I slyly suggest taking classes with someone else- someone blonder- someone with scars on his arms and forehead… )  You can do what I have often done, and show up early.  Ahead of the start of class, you can warm up not just your body, but your mind.  Then even if you have basic ‘oatmeal’ work at the start, you are already in the Tango mode.  The warmup can be anything- I often just practice overturned ochos and crosses in place to see how well I can balance.  There is something magic in creating your own liminal experience to help engage you in the task ahead.