Adventures with an IDTA syllabus... :)

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by Dave Bailey, Jun 6, 2011.

  1. Dave Bailey

    Dave Bailey New Member

    I was reminded of this from reading this post in the "Media Luna" thread:
    So, my demonstrator is taking the IDTA diploma thingy for AT teaching, and I've now taken a peek at the IDTA syllabus. As a practice for her, we're teaching a few sequences "to the syllabus" in our evening taster classes. I taught the Basic 8 last night - which was a first for me :D

    My comments on the syllabus are that, yes, it is indeed as bad as it sounds. The book is basically a big list of sequences. There's almost nothing else in it. There's a paragraph on the close embrace ("very close hold"!) and one on the open embrace ("close hold"), but that's mainly about hand placement.

    The whole syllabus is embarassingly bad - there's no mention of connection, improvisation, musicality, you name it. Hell, there's not even a mention of collecting the feet, which you'd expect in a footwork-oriented syllabus...

    I guess from one point of view, the good news is that, because there's no technique, it's actually fairly straightforward to pass the exam - all you need to to is memorise some sequences, it seems.

    Still, I'll give a few more sequences a go over the next couple of weeks, just for the experience. And I may well get some ideas for sequences from the list also - although probably I'd be better-off just attending a sequence-oriented class.

    (My demo is not a fool, of course, and she understands that this is simply a hoop to go through to get an accreditation. )
  2. Bailamosdance

    Bailamosdance Well-Known Member

    As it says on the website:

    Commissioned as a technique for IDTA's Argentine Tango Teaching Diploma and suitable syllabus figures for IDTA Bronze, Silver and Gold Medal Examinations

    It's the teacher's manual... not the student's manual, of course; syllabus is about codifying movement so that it can be taught. Theory and philosophy of dance is important to all types of dance and is usually taught as part of a dance education, but is not usually added to teaching manuals. Improvisation etc are usually added to a dancer's vocabulary after they have mastered the technique and understand the basics of movement. In many camps, discussing improvisation before the student can actually dance the choreography would be considered a step backwards.


    Look at the syllabus book you have as the teacher's guide, not the student's workbook, and you'll feel better about the things you think are missing.
  3. UKDancer

    UKDancer Well-Known Member

    This is fair comment. The syllabus really is as bad as DB says it is (I should know, I hold the Diploma - and at the highest attainable grade!), but I think it is likely to be significantly revised over the next year or two, and if enough people within the Society quietly make the right sort of constructive remarks, change can only be for the better.

    But there is a real misunderstanding as to what such texts are for. It is, as stated, a reference guide for the teacher, and not a self-study manual for the student. Taken in context (and with an understanding of the degree to which a documented technique appears to leave out everything that is important, but doesn't really, because so much is assumed by way of prior knowledge of any teacher) it is not as bad as a first glance might suggest. Several of the figures (anathema, yes, I agree) are actually quite good ideas, and they are decently demonstrated in the accompanying DVD (but by show tango dancers, and it shows).
  4. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

    that is a logical assumption but may be contradicted by observation: eg

    Here is another of Langer's experiments:

    In one study, novice piano players were introduced to a simple C major scale under two conditions, explicitly mindful or traditional practice. All subjects were given essentially the same instruction in piano, with the following variations. Members of group 1, the mindful instruction group, were told to be creative and to vary their playing as much as possible. These subjects were told: " Try to keep learning new things about your piano playing. Try to change your style every few minutes, and not lock into one particular pattern. While you practice, attend to the context, which may include very subtle variations or any feelings, sensations, or thoughts you are having." Then the specific lesson was given, and subjects spent twenty minutes practicing it. The control group was taught to practice in the traditional, memorization-through-repetition of one correct technique. The piano playing was taped for evaluation. Musicians who had extensive keyboard and compositional experience rated the playing. In addition, the subjects were asked how well they liked the lessons. The findings of this study confirmed our hypotheses. In comparison with the control group, the subjects given mindful instruction were rated as more competent and more creative, and they also expressed more enjoyment of the activity.


    at an early stage my sax instructor played around with call and response duets....

    that is why as a teacher i encourage people to play games, explore musicality as well as working on their technique..
  5. Bailamosdance

    Bailamosdance Well-Known Member

    I totally agree that improvisation has a big part of dance education. Just that it is not part of a teacher's syllabus manual.

    And, learning wrong technique usually results in years of 'fixing'.
  6. AndaBien

    AndaBien Well-Known Member

    Shouldn't a teacher know how to teach improvisation, as well as sequences?
  7. Bailamosdance

    Bailamosdance Well-Known Member

    Of course. Your point is?

    The manual assumes that the teacher knows how to teach. It is not a manual to teach someone how to teach, but the codified syllabus in preparation for a teaching certificate and medal tests.
  8. AndaBien

    AndaBien Well-Known Member

    If a teacher already knows how to teach, I don't see the point of having them learn specific sequences.
  9. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member


    The basis for all Practical and Theory exams in recognised Soc.

    Most do not know the proceedures and requirements , for taking exams .

    It invariably is predicated upon " in house " teaching, under the guidance of a seasoned Prof., and requires specific time applications in the METHODS of teaching covering aspects that are not in Techn. books.
  10. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member


    The "book " is a guide, NOT an absolute .
  11. Bailamosdance

    Bailamosdance Well-Known Member

    The book is not for the teacher to learn from, but to use to teach the students.

    The point of having a syllabus is to teach sequences that, when all added up, become the basic vocabulary of the dance. Additionally, each figure in a syllabus teaches a specific movement that, when added up with the other movements, creates the expression of the dance, as well as gives the student, who is learning the material sequentially, building blocks that create a dancer.
  12. tangomonkey

    tangomonkey Active Member

    And burning sequences into your neurons likewise (may) take years to fix.

    Teaching as BTM has briefly mentioned here (and elsewhere) does actually work. Teach proper lead/follow technique, basic steps, and play with the music.

    Sequences are anathema. They may give students the impression they are learning AT. They are not, IMHO. (speaking form my personal experience.)
  13. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

    Its funny that you say that, a friend of mine went on a PGCE, ( Uk teaching qualification for schools) and out of curiosity looked up the basis of the theory they were being taught. It came from a distinuished academic..who had never tried any of his teaching theory out in schools to see if one method was better than another.....when he raised this with the person who was teaching him her response was to give him a hard time and not deal with any of the salient questions he was asking....

    so when I teach; i demonstrate for those who can look and see what I'm doing.
    I explain what I'm doing and the how and the why
    i show some people how they should be moving ie i move their bodies, feet etc.
    I dance with others so they get what it should feel like

    and I get them to sometimes work on technique first, sometimes play, so they can explore and discover other possibilities themselves.

    then the broom handle bat comes out........;)
  14. Dave Bailey

    Dave Bailey New Member


    Ah, that makes a bit more sense.

    But that still doesn't explain why some stuff is just plain
    wrong. For example, they seem to be making up or attempting to define their own terminology, which is at odds with, well, pretty much everyone else.

    I mean, "Very Close Hold" instead of "Close Embrace"? "Close Hold" instead of "Open Embrace"? "Back Eights"? "
    [SIZE=-1]Displacement with Centripetal and Centrifugal forces"? Are these things designed to confuse?

    [/SIZE]I'm all for simplifying terms, but not when you create new and confusing ones in their place.

    [SIZE=-1]Also (from brief glance and memory), I believe there's stuff even in the step list which is missing. The man's change of weight in the Basic Eight, and the relative differences in step sizes in 7-8 of that sequence, for example - both of which I had to explain myself.

    If you're going to use it as a trainer's-notes guide, fair enough, but it's still very very bad.[/SIZE]
  15. Bailamosdance

    Bailamosdance Well-Known Member

    Probably the names of the holds are based upon the rest of the other syllabi. it is a hold, after all. Perhaps they say 'embrace' is colloquial.
  16. UKDancer

    UKDancer Well-Known Member

    You might be interested to know that the original text is in Greek. It doesn't excuse much, but it accounts for some of the oddities.

    Some of the figures are just bizarre, though: try the Cross Basic with Displacement. Only the first three steps of the Basic are there, but not in cross system, and it turns out to be a very ordinary giro/molinete to the L with a simple sacada. Cross Basic? I don't think so ...
  17. DerekWeb

    DerekWeb Active Member

    Seems to me that ballroom folks are writing an AT syllabus.

    No AT teacher will write one because they do not believe in syllabi, or admitting that it is useful is kiss of death in AT community.
  18. Larinda McRaven

    Larinda McRaven Site Moderator Staff Member

    But this stuff is the teachers responsibility in how they present the material.
  19. Larinda McRaven

    Larinda McRaven Site Moderator Staff Member

    We all use a vocabualry to learn how to speak. The english language has syntax and we all use it (some better than others) But what if in elementary school the teachers decided not to teach vocabulary or grammer. "Hey you hear the words, just do what you want with them!"

    Instead they teach you a system, and those that are creative and excel at wordsmithing become poets.
  20. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    I'm not of the opinion that a syllabus is necessarily a bad thing. I also don't have a problem with using patterns as a part of teaching. However, what I've seen posted here about IDTA, makes me believe it's a minor subset of what needs to be taught (i.e. woefully inadequate).

    Is this the IDTA that people are referring to?

    http://idta.co.uk/Site2/Styles.html

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