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As many of you know I have now stopped my regular classes to allow me to concentrate on my on Counselling training.  The wonderful Tamsyn (pictured above) is taking over my Wednesday evening classes at The Yoga Room.  The new 8-week term starts on September 15th and you can book your places here.  Have fun!

A wee while ago I asked a friend of mine, Zoë, if she would write a blog post for me and together with a mutual friend, Jane, she has. Enjoy!

Edinburgh’s best-kept bellydance secret

Tell anyone you go to Lorne McCall’s classes and even if they are one of the few who know who she is, many think she is “just” a Raqs Sharqi teacher. Well they don’t know what they’re missing. Lorne brings the depth of her Raqs Sharqi training to an open-minded love of dance. To quote a leading tribal teacher, Lorne is “the most elegant dancer in Edinburgh”.

Lorne rarely performs these days, but if you’ve been to a recent hafla, you’ve seen her students. At the November 2009 Hafla at Revolution, around half the performances were by Lorne’s current or recent students. The group veil dance with its joyful mini-duets and sophisticated choreography was by Lorne’s advanced class.

A trained dance teacher with many years’ experience, Lorne is very inclusive; everyone is welcome, encouraged and gets individual attention. Excellent on technique (people come to her classes for her expertise on hands alone) she’s also a mistress of mood: how a slight change of head angle creates a subtly different effect; how to maintain power; how to use pace and stillness. Lorne’s lovely sense of humour means that though classes are work they’re also fun, full of strange little rhymes to help with remembering movements and imaginary visits from Johnny Depp.

Lorne McCall teaches on Wednesdays at Dance For All in Stockbridge, Edinburgh and classes start back on August 25th!

Check out www.danceforall.co.uk for all the details.

I’ve come across a model of learning in the last year that I’ve found quite useful when thinking about the different things I’ve been learning of late – more bellydance, yoga and counselling skills. It’s been buzzing around my head of late so I thought it’d be interesting to share.

It is commonly known as the Four Stages of Learning or Conscious Competence model. It’s origins are unclear – some claim is was Maslow (better known for his Hierarchy of Needs model) other have suggested it was a training company, Gordon Training International, that coined it. The first stage in the model sees the student in a state of unconscious incompetence – they don’t know that they don’t know. This moves to conscious incompetence as they start to think about their need to learn – they now know that they don’t know (and how disheartening is that moment when you realise how vast the gap in your knowledge/skill is?!?). Over the course of their training/learning they achieve conscious competence – they know that they know and consciously think through what they’re doing. Eventually, by this model, they move to unconscious competence; they don’t know what they know, their knowledge/skills become second nature to them.

Here’s a handy diagram borrowed from another blog (click to visit):

I think this is a fairly useful, straightforward model that describes a learning cycle applicable to many fields (and certainly applicable to what I’ve been learning lately). Where I think it reaches is limits is when thinking about when you reach a level of competency where you are able to teach what you know. What I mean by this is the competency that differentiates an English as an Additional Language (EAL) teacher from a native English speaker. Both are unconsciously competent with the use of the English language but the latter may struggle to explain and teach the skill. In fact, having to think through and explain something you know well can be quite disruptive to your ability to do that thing – I have a few memories of standing in front of students of both Physics and bellydancing and getting myself all muddled up trying to explain something I hadn’t thought through well enough in advance (happily the more teaching experience I’ve had the less this has happened!). Dave Mearns, a leading figure within person-centred counselling, describes the interaction between his knowledge and his ability to pass this on: "…I believe I am much poorer as a facilitator now than 15 years ago. Paradoxically one of the factors which has contributed to this has been the growth in my understanding of person-centred counselling…" (Page 59, Person-Centred Counselling Training by Dave Mearns, 1997).

It’s a complex relationship between subject knowledge and the ability to teach. I think describing it is not a straightforward task as it varies between different people and within different subject areas. Dave Mearns has found increased subject knowledge a hindrance for him in his field, I have found it inspirational, that it can drive my desire to teach – and I believe the more energy you have for teaching, the more passion you have for your subject, the more inspirational you are as a teacher.

If you’re interested in learning more about this model, and it’s disputed origins, this article is quite interesting (even if the webpage is a little unattractive to read). And if you have thoughts to share on any of this please feel free to add them below.

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