Learning to take ownership
In this 4-part series I explain the main benefits of learning Flamenco dance at primary school: training important physical skills, understanding the power of practice and ownership, negotiating team work and individual practice, and dealing constructively with emotions.
This is the second blog of the series, in which I explain how learning Flamenco dance at primary school helps children to take ownership for their learning:
- A simple truth about practising
- Practising makes you achieve more
- How to teach discipline
- Taking ownership
A simple truth about practising
Sometimes we forget a simple truth: practise makes you better. It might not make you perfect, it might not make you the best at something, but it’s inevitable that your delivery will improve. It’s a simple but powerful truth and, once understood and internalised, it becomes the backbone of success for children.
“I’d picked up on the simple, encouraging correlation between how long I practised and how much I achieved.”Michelle Obama in her memoir ‘Becoming’
While this fact may be simple, it can be influenced by many other factors including the attitude to learning at home, aptitude for and attitude towards a subject, the learning atmosphere, friends and foes, personal circumstances and more.
In academic subjects, the fact that practise makes you better can therefore be overshadowed by some of the other aspects at times, making this fact less obvious to the children affected. In art the development towards improved performance is less measurable and therefore also not so obvious.
Practising makes you achieve more
Dance or learning to play an instrument are different. The above factors also influence the success of learning, but the effect of practise is easy to measure and visible quite obviously. Michelle Obama writes about learning to play the piano on page 11 of her memoir ‘Becoming’, “I’d picked up on the simple, encouraging correlation between how long I practised and how much I achieved.”
When children discover this for themselves, it can be the single most important contributing factor to their success at school.
How to teach discipline
Closely tied in with this is discipline. In my first blog of this series, I said that discipline is more powerful than motivation or pressure for achieving success in life, that it’s the key to delivering your best work at school and beyond and to life-long personal and professional development.
Teaching discipline in and of itself is difficult. The instruction “be disciplined” doesn’t necessarily translate into a clear action and the consequence of being disciplined isn’t direct and obvious. Discovering the benefits of discipline via practise is more tangible. The instruction “practise this or that” is clear and the direct consequence will be evident.
When children internalise the benefits of practise and discipline, they take the first steps towards taking ownership and responsibility for a matter. Not everything is in our control. But plenty is. Understanding that makes us better able to navigate a complex and evolving world. Taking ownership and responsibility for the things we can influence enables us to deal with uncertainties and challenges as best as possible.
This doesn’t only apply to one’s learning in Flamenco, but is transferrable to other school subjects, other areas of learning and to private life: from friendships and relationships with parents and siblings to household duties, homework, and later a job and career.
Next week, I will write about negotiating team work and individual practice. In the meantime, read my blog about introducing Flamenco dance to the 250 children at Caldicotes Primary School in February 2020.
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