Teaching is super hard.
Well, not SUPER super hard, but pretty difficult. It’s not difficult material-wise, because I know what I’m talking about (and I’m pretty sure I know what I don’t know and don’t pretend like I do), but conveying that information to someone else, whilst coming up with new tactics on the fly is really hard.
I’ve been giving a few different people private swing dance lessons recently, and I’m realizing just how much is involved. I started teaching a friend of mine how to do basic East Coast probably a couple months back and some basic moves and such as well. This was pretty easy, because there’s not much that’s complicated about East Coast. There’s a lot that beginners miss when learning it, but that stuff’s not difficult to learn for a virgin dancer. It’s not that hard to teach, either. So I was all happy that I could do my part to start educating those uneducated, and then decided I would teach someone Lindy Hop.
THAT took brainpower. Lindy has so many different components that all need to be paid attention to, thereby rendering the dance to be more difficult for the student, and way more difficult for this fledgling teacher. There’s footwork, there’s tension, there’s the idea of moving with one’s core, there’s center of gravity stuff, there’s little movements that are little but very very important, and it’s just so much STUFF! Fortunately, the first time I taught someone Lindy, the students caught on somewhat abnormally quickly, so my brain wasn’t completely overloaded with every single part of the swingout. Whether it should have been or not, I’m not entirely sure. It was also my first time teaching Lindy, so there were probably some things I would have caught now that I may not have caught then, but fortunately I know those people well enough that I can correct them later.
Second time teaching Lindy, the student also caught on pretty fast, but for some reason, it stretched my brain a lot more. It’s possible I’d learned important and relevant things in between the first and second lessons that increased the traffic in my brain. Also, the student very accurately followed what I told him to do. So accurately, in fact, that I discovered I accidentally taught him something that was wrong, it had to do with the spacing of the footwork. I taught him the footwork, of course, before getting him started on the swingout, and I didn’t account for enough space for the follow, which led to a not-so-slot-like swingout. And it was fun, I like finding out that I’m doing something wrong, because then I observe and learn from it.
The great thing about teaching is the fact that I’m learning a lot more about the specifics of the swingout than if I were being told about the specifics by a teacher. Generally speaking, when I figure out something by myself, it sticks better than if someone tells me. I can listen/watch someone talk about a swingout all day long, but if I never get the chance to do it, I’ll never remember it. I’m at the point where I have a lot (not all) of the intricacies of Lindy down well enough that I don’t think about them anymore. But when I’m teaching, I’m the one who knows what a good swingout means and what it looks like, and I have to be the one to deduce what the issues are when it doesn’t look quite right. This brings back to light to me some of those things that are important to know, but that I don’t think about anymore. And I love that. I love figuring out the cause via effect like that, especially when I have no idea what the problem is. My brain gets all excited because there’s something to figure out that I don’t have at the forefront of my faculties, and automatically that means I’ll get to learn something new.
But boy does it drain the brain after an evening. It’ll probably get way easier if I start doing it more regularly, but right now I’m still in the learning stage as a teacher. It’s fun and challenging though, and I’m happy with that.
By the way, anyone who is interested in learning or refining their swing dancing, you’re quite welcome to be a guinea pig of mine. Just get in contact with me and I’ll see if we can work something out. :)