Years ago, when I started teaching middle school, I witnessed my first kindergarten dance presentation. I must confess I was impressed. The presentation was clearly rehearsed—arguably to an obsessive degree.
Years later during my first years of mentorship training with Originateve, I started to learn more about the art of improvisation and the dire need to regenerate, back into our educational models, this forgotten approach to the arts. This is the primary reason for which our preschool OPEN MIC curriculum exists. Our goal is for all of our kids to always be ready to perform, not simply after tiresome and stressful rehearsal.
As you will see in the videos below, this morning we created a little space for IMPROV. Here are a few contextualizing details that will help delineate the powerful experience we shared together.
- Nobody knew about our improvised dance session this morning—not even me! Our Diguan teachers (kids ages 4-6) knew that we would have a DO SI DO dance time, but none of us had planned for it to be a public performance.
- If you look carefully at the first video, you can see what I hoped for most clearly in Momo’s face (the first girl in the line-up) as she entered the room, hand-in-hand, with her partner. There was a blush but also a solid determination. This is an essential life quality we hope to foster in all of our children. Momo for her first 2 years at MT, was the queen of saying No! Always too shy! Well, sorry, not anymore. Our kindergarten team has chiseled away at all silly sheeping away nonsense.
- Due to the success of our first round of DO SI DO, I then decided to take the improvisational risk a bit further. Time for the little brothers and sisters to dance. I had no idea how they would respond. Let me say that again: I HAD NO IDEA HOW THEY WOULD RESPOND. This aspect is key to any serious educational model. Overly paid curriculum developers in far away sky scrapers are way too hung up on eliminating any unpredictabilities. Like mad lab scientists that want full control of outcome. Theories cease to be theories when they’ve already been test-proofed to death. Nothing new can ever come, if we are always trying the same approach. Today we ventured and took a risk and our kids surprised us with their brilliance and natural inclination towards improvisation and live performance.
- And what about all of the peer to peer learning that is taking place. Kids are helping kids know what the hell is going on. Now, that is what the experts call child-centered learning!
- One final point I want to make is regarding the importance of learning to be a good audience. Too often we focus on the performers rather than on the audience. Great performers are all great audiences first. They understand the respect that performance merits.
MT Teaching Director