I saw this beautiful video posted on a friend’s Facebook page. Go ahead, take a peek.
When I watched this video, I realized something. I realized that I could actually feel each stretch, developee, tendue, demi plie as I saw the dancers move into and through them. I actually felt the moves in my body as I watched. This is because I have practiced those moves so many times before in years past. I know how it feels to stretch my leg up to my ear, to arabesque and pirouette, to leap and to spiral down into the arms of my partner. Once you have learned these moves and have practiced them, again and again, you never forget the feeling you have as tendon, bone and muscle move in symphony to dance them. It is a great feeling. It is a yearning.
I considered this knowing in my body. And I considered what I hold dear today: Students.
I realized something that seems important. Perhaps this learning memory has meaning beyond dance.
If the physical moves I learned as a young person whose body was still growing and becoming still reside within me now even though it has been many years since I have danced like that. This could mean that the things we teach to our children, the things we help them practice again and again could stay with them and serve them well as they grow up and become adults.
If those moves live inside my muscle memory now, couldn’t other things, I have practiced and learned be there as well? What about reading? What about writing? What about math? What about knowing how to overcome adversity? What about socially adaptive things like understanding how to make someone laugh? Of course, we learn to read as children, and we keep that skill as we get older. Hopefully, we even get better at it. Maybe that is all this is. But somehow it seems more.
I believe that helping young children learn to do anything takes practice. Time spent approximating and practicing helps them grow their skills, understandings, and abilities. A child who spends time reading each day will be a stronger reader. This pays off across a lifetime. A child who learns to play soccer, who practices on the field, runs, and kicks and learns to get along with teammates gains strengths that can never be taken from him. With each new understanding, each new ability that is practiced we gain strength and step into a new place from which to grow.
If we can help young people learn to read, write, compute, think. If we can give children plenty of opportunity to practice. We can instill in them a lifetime of “feeling the moves” as they grow up, take on jobs, and raise families.
Wouldn’t that be a beautiful thing?