Tango Argentino > Group Lessons vs. Peer-to-Peer (P2P) Learning

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by TomTango, Apr 14, 2017.

  1. newbie

    newbie Well-Known Member

    You may have negociated poorly. Happened to me too for a series of privates. I somehow wasted my time, but the wasted money was all hers. She paid it all.

    Back to peer-to-peer. During his college years, my brother attended for a while some jive classes, taught by students of the same campus. The said students were attending classes in town with real teachers, and the next day were teaching the sequence, thus making money in the process as well. P2P learning, with the advanced peers being advanced by one day.
  2. FancyFeet

    FancyFeet Well-Known Member

    I don't see P2P as someone more advanced teaching - I see it as working with my fellow dancers, them learning from my strengths and me from theirs. I can learn so much in a 5 minute conversation with someone about something that isn't working. I know, for example, that my approach to heel turns has helped quite a few of my dance friends, simply from a 3 minute conversation with short demo in a hotel room post-comp.
    oldtangoguy, sixela and opendoor like this.
  3. Vincenze

    Vincenze Member

    Why would you pay money to a "secondary" teacher now when there are so many high-class teachers from Argentina who offer classes for the same money?
    I also have nothing against non-Argentines with dancing education, they can be as good or better in explaining intricacies of musicality and tango sequences.
    But amateur teachers...
  4. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    Vincenze, pro or am has got nothing to do with expertise! You will find experts and wimps in either camp.
  5. newbie

    newbie Well-Known Member

    As I may have mentioned in my post, it was jive classes. Just to examplify an actual situation of P2P that I heard of.
    And why did my brother pay a student for a cheap class rather than having to take a bus to go to town and take an expensive class with a pro teacher? Time. Money. A student is usually on a budget.
  6. itwillhappen

    itwillhappen Active Member

    For students we've a college sports tango group with a nominal fee. The instructors get paid like all other sports instructors there - a fraction of a professional teachers salary. They do it for promoting the youngsters. And maybe for not let a niche open for upcoming competitors. To do some P2P learning there will not be an issue, IMHO.

    The same could be done by non profit associations for settled adults. But I think the demand for such an environment is lesser and the personal income is better.
  7. TomTango

    TomTango Active Member

    As many of you pointed out, P2P learning is happening all the time in a tango community. Thinking about it though, this learning is often inefficient and unfocused.
    • During a group lesson: some people are far too free with their feedback, some people are very wary about giving feedback and stepping on the instructor's toes. It can be awkward fitting in discussion, sometimes talking over the teacher. Rotation might happen right when a breakthrough is imminent
    • During an unstructured practica: you're not sure if you'll be able to find a partner when you show up, or a useful one. If you're with someone better than you, you might be afraid you're taking up too much of their time. If someone is not as good as you, you might feel taken advantage, stuck. You're not an instructor so you don't quite know what the most important thing to help them with. There might be an argument if you both can't agree on a way to do something. If both of you are at a loss, if a movement isn't working, there might be no one to ask for help.
    Having a guided P2P practica helps a lot of these issues. The anxiety behind giving too much feedback/receiving too much feedback is mitigated. Having a clear authority in the instructor helps with sticking points and provides structure. There will be some roation (every 20 minutes in the video), which helps a bit with being monopolized at a normal practica.

    I still am not sure how easy it would be to get advanced dancers to participate. You're banking on their investment in the community. It also seems ripe for those who are power-hungry to get a free pass to unload on a poor beginner.
    sixela likes this.
  8. Gssh

    Gssh Well-Known Member

    I think some form of p2p is neccessary to develop ones own understanding of "how tango works". To effectively deal with the wide range of more or less incompatible tango techniques requires one to be able to disentangle how things look, and how they actually work, and that requires long hours debugging and playing with movement, and that is not something that privates (or classes) lend themselves to.
  9. itwillhappen

    itwillhappen Active Member

    Would you call practicing with a partner a kind of "peer-to-peer"? In most couples the lady is the boss... ;)
  10. Gssh

    Gssh Well-Known Member

    It depends, i guess. I had not really thought of it in terms of peer-to-peer before this thread, but i am coming to like the terminology. It emphasizes that in a good practice we are not just practicing something, but we teach and are being taught by each other. We don't really want to get better at dancing with each other, but we want to become better dancers, and that only happens when we to some extent try to take our personal preferences out of the equation. When i am not careful practicing with my partner becomes polishing the things we both like. To avoid this we discuss topics before we start - basically thinking about ourselves like a coach would, instead of practicing the things we already know. I don't think a couple is the best unit for p2p - from the few times that happened i feel like a tiny practica - something like 2-3 couples seems the best environment for me - enough people to guarantee a variety of perspectives, few enough to agree what we are working on. But it is hard to get something like that going. Practicas are often somewhat varied in how much people actually want to practice the same things over and over again, or if it is really an informal milonga. And from my experience practicas for practicing don't last long, while semi-milongas flourish.
    oldtangoguy and Omar Maderna like this.
  11. itwillhappen

    itwillhappen Active Member

    According to the article The Traditional Way to Learn to Dance Tango it took three years of P2P-learning to lead other men to get milonga ready, including nine month of male following.
    And according to this article The Tango Goes Underground the high efford to meet a girl killed learning Tango when Rock'n Roll came up and made this much easier.
    Seems that Tango learning methods still haven't adapted very well to the gender situation today.
  12. TomTango

    TomTango Active Member

    I've been working on this P2P stuff a lot recently and am really digging it.

    One of my big questions had been how to get experienced dancers to participate. The system I'm trying has the following setup:
    • Beginners learn 100% of the time
    • The leader teachers (aka, me and my partner), teach 100% of the time
    • Everyone in between alternate teaching for 15 minutes/learning for 15 minutes
    • The 15 minutes are spent teaching/learning micro lessons on a set, progressive curriculum with "levels"
    • Each lessons has you learn how to lead it, how to follow it, and how to teach it to the next person
    • You'll always be teaching someone who isn't as far along as you in the curriculum. You'll always be teaching "down"
    So, the incentive for experienced dancers to come is 1) they're still getting instruction half the time (often from me or my partner, so mini-private lesson) and 2) they reinforce and improve the concepts they already know by teaching them. I've been working with a starter group of peer teachers, going over how to teach things they know how to do, like ochos, crosses etc. They all say learning to teach them is helping them to lead/follow them better.

    Also, it seems to be the consensus that the value provided by such a class is equivalent to that of a traditional group class with one teaching couple, so the pricing should be the same.

    Some things I'm worried about:
    • People equating level with dance skill. I need to make sure it's clear to everyone that your "level" is simply a measure as to how far you are through the program, not your dancing skill. It's highly likely someone will end up being a higher level than you but be less experienced.
    • Experienced dancers being taught by less experienced dancers. People will need to accept that when they're in the student role, they have to commit to that role. They have to understand that their peer teacher is learning too and be supportive
    • Everyone has to start at the beginning. This means some dancers will be taught things they might consider simple, like a 6-count box step, how to enter forward ochos, etc. In this case, there is still a tremendous amount to get out of the lesson by learning how to teach it.
    I'm going to start these classes (learning labs) in a week. If anyone is interested, I'll update later about how the classes go.
  13. itwillhappen

    itwillhappen Active Member

    Hi Tom, yes, I'm highly interested in this innovative approach, of course.

    I personally prefer to:
    • decide by whom I get teached
    • meanwhile what I get teached
    • dance complete tango songs with my partner
    • dance another style if I prefer to

    So I suppose that such an offering would for me only be suitable at a weekend workshop, not a weekly class.
    Mladenac likes this.
  14. Tango Distance

    Tango Distance Active Member

    I took a class that was very advanced. You had to dance with the instructor to verify you were good enough to get in. The pace was very rapid, too rapid to keep up with just class sessions. Many class members would attend the practicas. Wow, was that an eye opener! Usually people are very timid about giving advice. This class was the opposite. People I thought to be meek and mild became pushy, inflexible, and argumentative. The other irony is those that wanted to give the most advice were (per my subjective grading) in the bottom 1/3 of the class, and often can't themselves do well what they were advising. Another issue was understanding what they were trying to help me do. It was also interesting to see people do things well with their spouse but do poorly with anyone else.

    The moral of the story for me is it works much better to have an instructor in the room -- the instructor will know a better way to explain it, and be the authority figure that stops debate. In my experience, not having the instructor present did not work nearly as well. My take is that P2P could work well, but needs an instructor ready to swoop in and help out those amateur teachers.
    raindance likes this.
  15. itwillhappen

    itwillhappen Active Member

    I think the most important question is if there will be a p2p-community next to p2p-teaching.
    What will happen if somebody likes it to teach someone but not to dance with her/him at a practica or milonga afterwards?

    Just another question - did you preselect this "starter group" or got all potential peers asked?
    (A group of experienced dancers that gets preferred instructions by you and is expected to be fast in the curriculum would not sound really peer-to-peer for me, more like some kind of pyramid-teaching.)
  16. oldtangoguy

    oldtangoguy Active Member

    Back in the day, before there were "instructors" and "lessons", it is my impression that dancers learned on the practice floor by dancing. I am a lead, but nearly all of my early learning was simply by dancing with an advanced follow who never "taught" me things, but was simply an honest follow. This allowed me to learn, through trial and error, what lead/mark resulted in what step/action on the part of my follow, including just her standing there if I didn't lead effectively. And for teaching connection, her only instruction was that I try to mimic the connection that she offered, and then praise when I did good - but no explanations. And for follows, it can be especially effective to "teach" by just dancing as long as the lead is good.

    This is one problem I have had with many private lessons I've taken - the instructor often seems to feel that he/she must "instruct", while in fact he/she need only dance honestly - unless of course I'm trying to learn some exotic step (back sacada on the open side into a colgada - or some such silliness), in which case all bets are off.
  17. Tango Distance

    Tango Distance Active Member

    In my little area, I have never seen anyone refuse to cycle through a classmate in a class (with the exception of people that were doing no switching whatsoever). Some of these people from the class would then turn down people at Milongas. A couple of people were so selective they would dance only one or two people at a milonga, but would dance with everyone in a class. It was still good to have their help in the class. Also, I think the newbs got more dances from the class intros than they "lost" from people who would not dance with them for 10 more years anyway.
  18. TomTango

    TomTango Active Member

    We did our first learning lab this past week, and I have to say I'm really liking the format. It's so nice to be able to accommodate all skill levels in a class. It's nice that the class isn't slowed down by late people. It's nice that everyone can learn at the pace they choose instead of a common pace that's too fast for some, too slow for others. I think rather than replacing traditional group lessons, it is a nice compliment to them. At the moment we have a beginner series, an intermediate series, and a learning lab running concurrently, and there's something for everyone. If someone does all three, I feel like the learning lab "fills in the gaps" that the others miss.

    The first thing I noticed was the concept of the class really resonated with people, because way more people came to this class than is normal for July here (double!). I was put in an awkward situation where I didn't have enough "starter" peer teachers to run the class in the format I wanted (half of them teaching/half of them learning from me and my partner at any given time). So I had to have them all teach all the time, and even then, the ratio was one teacher per 3 learners. But the peer teachers did great. We'd spent about 8 hours all told last month preparing together, and it really showed in how comfortable they were with the mini-missions.

    The other thing I noticed was it was it created a comfortable, warm atmosphere. The low level noise of people talking, explaining, laughing, etc. created a feeling of community and unity that people mentioned. It felt like we were all building our tango skills as a unit, vs. a group class where the focus is more on the self. People were asking themselves both "what can I learn?" and "what can I give?"
  19. itwillhappen

    itwillhappen Active Member

    4 weeks later - how did your p2p project evolve, Tom?
  20. TomTango

    TomTango Active Member

    Still going strong! I purchased some silicone wristbands to help people easily group together, and made some posters with the mission listings on it. We've worked out the kinks and things are streamlined.

    It's still popular, especially among the shyer dancers. There were some people who had only been taking private lessons, but they've become our most reliable attendees. It's also popular among the intermediate follows in our community. Many of them are becoming great leads after only one or two months work.

    A problem we've had is people bunching up at the second tier of missions. A reminder on how it works: once people graduate a tier, they can teach those of a lower tier. So many people got through the first tier very quickly but then greatly slow down, so almost no one has made it onto the third tier. This is where the format kind of breaks down, as it really works best with people equally distributed among all the missions.

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