Thursday, May 11, 2017

commitment and impetus for competition

Sunday was an amazing day for a very personalized Skype discussion.

I feel that commitment surfaced as a topic important not only to me but all of us in this program. Do we all share the same commitment level, students and faculty alike? Are our levels of commitment perhaps perceived as different when they may not be? How much of these possible preconceptions or misconceptions may be due to outside influencers?

The question of commitment arose from the discussion topic Becky brought to the table referencing "competitions" vs. graded exams. Do students prefer competitions to graded exams because their worth may be gauged next to the value of work done by others? Is that really any different in competitions than in graded exams?

In both instances students strive to achieve better success. Some people might infer that competitions are more subjective based on personal beliefs or expectations whereas graded exams in syllabus programs or in academia require understanding and execution of certain technical expectations to move forward tot he next level.

Are competitions any different in that judges and studio owners expect certain technique and tricks from specific age students/competitors/performers?

Why do students choose competition over graded exams in syllabus structured learning? Or do they choose syllabus over competition? What is the impetus for achieving success?

Is the motivation for both simply the competition an individual with oneself to improve his or her own execution of steps and understanding each time said steps or dances are performed? Or does the desire to be better than others create motivation for moving forward?

A student in this program responded to one of my previous blogs stating she was uncertain what to write as she did not want to appear as if she did not know what she was saying or that her comments were of no value. My response was that every thought is worth hearing if only to decide it may not be what you actually think. A discussion can not be held if dialogue does not occur.

To that end I think back on commitment. How seriously are we taken by each other in this program, students and teachers/advisors? We are all working and living daily life with many obstacles thrown in our journeys. We must be respectful of each other and help each other along the way. We may not be meant to be new best friends or more than acquaintances. However, we all have reasons for improving ourselves through this course and our careers.

So commitment is important. Then maybe the challenge for each of us is to discover what drives us competitively with ourselves and others in our fields.

Once again, I feel as if I have more questions than answers but is that not why we are in this program to question and learn? How do we effectively communicate through dialogue and support the learning experience of teachers and students alike?


  1. Hello Davis, this post is of great interest to me, and I wish I was part of the skype meeting when Becky was talking about commitment. As you know I work and live in Norway where it is recognised that people should be equal, no one is to be better than anybody else. There is a well-known social understanding called Janteloven, here is an explaination:

    Janteloven (the law of Jante) at its simplest describes the way that all Norwegians (and in fact, other Scandinavians too) should behave: putting society ahead of the individual, not boasting about individual accomplishments or being jealous of others.

    At the muncipal school I teach at, pupils are not allowed to do exams (I have tried to introduce them in the 17 years I have been employed), and there are no dance competitions in the country at all. Because of the lack of exams, pupils move up to the next class based on their school class. I feel because there is no goal to achieve there is a certain lack of commitment from the pupils and even more so from the parents. Classes become very mixed in levels, as some pupils will attend regularly and others when they feel like it. Needless to say, teaching these classes is demanding as planning for classes can be difficult. Achieving personal goals is always a struggle. I often wonder, if introducing some kind of "medal test" may encourage them to be more commited. I naturally, want to be 100% commited to all of my students (and loyal to my employer), but sometimes I find this a stuggle. Keeping motivated when there is no comfirmation whether my work is sufficient or not, is something I constantly am conscious of. I am currently trying to introduce classes for the more "serious" pupil, although this has not been approved yet. Until then, I will continue to explore different ways to encourage commitment from my pupils and hopefully help everybody to stay motivated. Samantha

    1. Sam,

      Becky spoke more to the theory of why students did competition vs. graded exams. And from there our discussion developed into a bit of questioning commitment levels and the impetus for why students choose competition or graded exam/syllabus environments for their dance study.

      Thank you for sharing thoughts and comments about students being moved to the next level simply based on advancing another grade.

      I find the concept of community good versus individual success an interesting twist on the question of commitment to improvement and why students might choose one learning environment over another.

      If we as dancers, students, and instructors do not seek improvement of self then how are we able to help the community or school or company improve and move forward? Is this a circular question similar to which came first, the chicken or the egg?

    2. Sam,

      Having taken more time to think about your comments. I would like to say that perhaps the challenge is truly how we as teachers engage the commitment level from ourselves to push our students. And for me that challenge is learning when I have done too much to assist the student or realizing when I perhaps have not been attentive enough to a students' needs or challenges.

      I can only speak to my life and circumstances but have had recently experienced through communications with others in academia they can experience a sense of overwhelming and frustration navigating between red tape created by bureaucratic administration and the actual teaching and interaction with students. Again, the commitment an individual determines what that student accomplishes. Teachers and students alike have to navigate the murky waters of mingling personal, professional, and academic life or manage time effectively.

      And the younger generations who spend more time on technology and less time interacting in personal situations may influence an individual or group of individuals in how teamwork and success may be viewed.

      Just a few more thoughts and questions to put out into the universe.

  2. Hi Davis, thanks for your views. Always interesting!