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ERIC Number: EJ1022167
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013
Pages: 4
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-1529-0824
Beginner's Mind: Applying the Zen Practice of "Soshin" to Best Practices in Dance Education
Demerson, Rainy
Journal of Dance Education, v13 n3 spec iss p99-102 2013
In all of the years of training required to be an expert on any topic, teachers too often forget how to learn from the beginning. This is particularly true with regard to teaching and learning dance in U.S. primary and secondary school settings. Many P-12 dance teachers have had at least ten years of formative dance technique instruction in private studios before entering their collegiate dance training. Those first dance lessons set the foundation for how we perceive dance pedagogy and might or might not be challenged or expanded on in college training. In either case, the teaching methodology presented is usually not effectively replicated in the P-12 setting. It is important to reflect on and critique our own training before designing curricula for students. "Soshin," or "beginner's mind" (Suzuki 1970), is the Zen Buddhist concept of approaching life and its tasks as a beginner, regardless of how experienced we are. It is also sometimes translated as "fresh mind" because the practitioner enters the situation without expectations on herself or others. For the dance educator, "beginner's mind" can imply this heightened sensitivity and responsiveness to the present moment and also the capacity to think like a beginning student--to empathize with their experiences. When approaching best practice standards in education, dance teachers can frame their approach with a beginner's mind perspective to better meet the needs and talents of students who are not necessarily on a professional track. In this article, the author describes how the beginner's mind perspective influenced her to adjust her curriculum to be more appropriate for her learners and to reach them more effectively. She concludes that by utilizing "Soshin," veteran dance teachers can prevent burnout and avoid becoming boring, or worse, tyrannical. Addressing Best Practice standards with a fresh mind can balance our tendencies, visions, and current conditions. From this viewpoint we can customize goals and expectations for the P-12 dance class, redefine academic and artistic excellence, encourage shared leadership, and appropriately evaluate the process.
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Publication Type: Reports - Descriptive; Journal Articles
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A