In the spirit of Nathan’s fireworks comparison, I have notes from Zumba. Zumba is a dance form that a lot of health clubs have been teaching for a while, and I attended my fifth or sixth lesson today (in Virginia, far from home).
I promise that this will be at least partly relevant!
I’ve gone to three different kinds of Zumba lessons. One is by local Russian ladies. They have incredible belly dancing moves. Lots of guys attend these classes…it’s worth it just to watch the teacher dance! I would compare the Russian-teacher classes to being in a traditional language class; any beginners marvel at the teachers’ skills, but don’t necessarily pick up steps unless they’re already skilled in other dance forms.
The next type of teacher uses fun music, and is skilled herself; she tells everyone not to worry if they aren’t up to speed, because it will just take some time. “Keep coming back to the class, and you’ll get it.” This kind of class seems to me to be like an immersion class; eventually you’ll probably pick up some dance moves, because it’s so much fun you’ll sway along with everyone else.
Finally, there are the teachers who break down the chorus so that even a beginner can follow the basic moves. At the same time, those teachers tell the advanced students how to crank up the steps. The chorus breakdown reminds me of an embedded reading; it’s simple for the beginners, and they can all “get it.” The “crank it up” part is like Carol’s “impress me” vocabulary on the board. And the way that those teachers point in the direction of the next few steps is like any good TPRS teacher, scaffolding the steps for the beginners to hang on, while the advanced folks put in their own shimmies.
This morning, I had the “immersion” Zumba teacher. I had a whole lot of fun laughing at myself. I heard some great music and saw some amazing moves by other students, but I did find myself wishing for a little more support. Like a kid who has had a TPRS teacher (or a teacher who has had Laurie as a coach!), I have had great Zumba instruction, so I know I can do this. I’ll be back. If I hadn’t had that kind of support, I would probably figure this just isn’t for me. I am inspired again to show kids from the first day of school onward that they can do this.