Changing Lives Through Dance
Over the past century there have been numerous attempts to develop educational techniques to help children acquire the skills they need to become successful adults. The Montessori Method, Waldorf Education and the Suzuki Method are three of the most thorough and successful of those efforts.
What makes these systems so successful is that they combine a clear and compelling philosophy, a systematic training for those adults who will instruct the children, a program design that inherently coincides with the developmental needs of the children being, and the ability to replicate the program on a large scale.
The Montessori Method, with a philosophy grounded in guiding a child's inner self to perfection, is completely focused on the emerging developmental needs of the child -informing the Teacher when to introduce certain learning experiences.
Waldorf Education is based upon a holistic view of human development, providing a detailed artistic curriculum that responds to and develops the child's developmental phases from early childhood through high school, enhancing academic learning through music, movement, and art.
The Suzuki Method functions similarly, with a philosophical goal of bringing beauty to the spirit of the young child; it builds on the essential developmental drive within young children for language acquisition.
Dancing Classrooms shares elements of these educational philosophies, combining a clear and compelling philosophy with a rigorous and systematic adult training model that dramatically coincides with the developmental needs of 10-11 year old children, reinforcing social skills just prior to the onset of puberty.
Dancing Classrooms is being replicated throughout the United States and Canada, and the program is attracting international attention.
As with the Montessori, Waldorf, and Suzuki programs, at the heart of Dancing Classrooms is a method – the Dulaine Method.
The Dulaine Method Philosophy
Respect & Compassion: At the very core of the Dulaine Method is the essential respect that goes into being a Lady or a Gentleman. Dancing Classrooms is a program that demands children not only treat others with respect but also encourages children to respect themselves.
Coupled with respect is compassion. Respect and compassion are the foundational elements of the Dulaine Method. Unfortunately, very few adults know how to genuinely treat children with respect. In addition, even fewer adults seem to remember what it was like to be a child. We train our Teaching Artists to access these crucial skills.
Being Present: Probably the most difficult skill for any teacher to learn is the ability to be completely ‘in the moment’ when they are teaching. Children in particular are extremely aware of when the adult in charge (parent, teacher, coach) is not fully ‘there’. Once children can sense that “disconnect”, the adult has lost them.
Dulaine trained Teaching Artists' ability to ‘be here now’ enables them to observe every subtle nuance of student and group behavior. They can see when a child is nervous or not paying attention, as well as when the group is becoming restless. They respond to these issues immediately, thus keeping the classroom experience flowing. Being “present” also allows Teaching Artists to express their own positive emotions towards the children at precisely the moment the children need that affirmation.
Creating a Safe Place: As part of our commitment to tap into the best of our students, our Teaching Artists ask children to take the extraordinary risk of potentially embarrassing themselves in front of their peers. Our students are willing to take this risk precisely because we train our Teaching Artists in the many ways to make that experience safe.
A Dancing Classrooms’ class is a place in which everyone is respected equally - the students, the Teaching Artist, and the school staff. We call this creating a therapeutic milieu, an environment so different and liberating from what these children are used to that simply being in the room and being part of the collective group experience changes the child.
Command & Control: Clearly, the process of moving 22+ children through twenty 45-minute classes and have them successfully learn seven dances requires the need for order and discipline. Dulaine trained Teaching Artists are in command of their classes from the moment that they begin to teach until the moment the children leave the room.
An essential part of the Dulaine Method is developing the craft of managing the Group. There is an essential focus on group dynamics and on the skills particularly needed to manage a group of children. The Dulaine Method of using the Group to help the Individual is the glue that holds this program together. The ability to remain in absolute control of the Group while nurturing the children is one of our Teaching Artists' greatest skills.
Language: Body and verbal language are the great connectors in Dancing Classrooms. Our Teaching Artists' entire attitude is one of openness, warmth, and genuine affection for the children. Their verbal repertoire is a consistent barrage of positive comments and encouragement. There is no denying that when our Teaching Artists combine their body and verbal language they are a positive force the children simply cannot resist.
Humor & Joy: The Dulaine Method brings humor and joy to the teaching experience. Humor is perhaps the most difficult, yet powerful teaching tool for a teacher to master. Gentle humor can help a shy child become less self-conscious; humor with that same child handled poorly can make him or her permanently retreat. The Dulaine Method encourages our Teaching Artists' inner child to emerge fully while they are teaching. They are playful, they are present, and the children can sense they are just plain happy to be with them. Being in such a safe place, where the boundaries are clear, the Teaching Artist is fully present, where respect and compassion reign – these are the elements that bring joy into the lives of the Dancing Classrooms children.
The Dulaine method ensures our Teaching Artists know:
- Dancing Classrooms is more a psychological endeavor than a physical one. They know exactly where they are going and are adaptable in their means to get there, but there is no escaping getting there.
- The process is logical. Each step is built on the previous one, so there is no randomness to it. In that sense, they must demonstrate structural minds. There is no static, there is no wandering. All is very, very clear, both within their own minds and in the way they express themselves.
- They are always thinking several steps ahead of themselves—when they are teaching one step, their mind is already on to the next one (or two!)
- Their voice matters a great deal. It conveys several positive messages at the same time: authority, warmth, humor, care, openness.
- It is a performance. They are acutely aware of the group dynamic and how to pace the instruction.
- They are confident so they can be outside of themselves. They understand the material profoundly, so they do not have to think about the steps, allowing them to be 100% focused on reading signs from the students and adjusting the presentation to suit their needs.
- They are not afraid of appearing “foolish” and demonstrating that they too are having fun!