Learning to dance teaches fourth- and fifth-grade children how to learn other things, writes George Will, after a visit to a Los Angeles school.
(Teacher Ethel) Bojorquez, whose experience has immunized her against educational fads, admiringly watches her pupils perform under (dancer Carole) Valleskey’s exacting tutelage and exclaims, “They are learning about reading right now.”
They are, she marvels, learning about — experiencing, actually — “sequencing, patterns, inferences.” She explains: “You don’t only listen to language, you do it.”
. . . Bojorquez’s raven-haired students, their dark eyes riveted on Valleskey, mimic her motions. These beautiful children have a beautiful hunger for the satisfaction of structured, collaborative achievement.
That begins when Valleskey, a one-woman swarm, bounces into the room and immediately, without a word of command, reduces the turbulent students to silent, rapt attention. They concentrate to emulate Valleskey’s complex syncopation of claps, finger snaps and thigh-slaps by which she sets the tone of the coming hour: This will be fun because things will be done precisely right.
Will is right: Children crave excellence.