AD - Recognition - Levels (LONG)

John F. Hirling macfergus at
Thu Apr 22 19:48:02 PDT 1999

Grace & peace to you all:

One Thursday, April 22, 1999 10:35 AM, Guillaume responded to my email as
follows (bulleted paragraphs):
* You say that you want the levels to be more accessible, but in items 3, 4,
and 5 above, it would actually be more difficult (and perhaps even
prohibitive for some) to attain those levels than is currently written in
the charter draft.
* I'm really put off by the idea that we would vote as a group on advancing
a person to a new level.
* First, the levels simply aren't that important. If we make each applicant
undergo this trial by popular vote to earn a level, then I think we place
undue weight on the levels. It is too much like being elevated to a peerage,
and that's not what we're after. It's not an award, but a graduation, like
going from junior high to senior high. No one votes on that, but a teacher
or administrator does vouch for you that you've met the qualifications. They
don't have the authority to hold you back if you have met those
qualifications. I'd like to see the levels work like that. Think of it not
as a higher level, but as a certification that the member is a more
qualified and experienced teacher.

If levels are not that important, lets not have them.  People will simply
claim what dances they can teach and the Guild can maintain a data base.  We
can then inform inquirers what dances a member claims to be able to teach.
However, if the Guild is to stand behind the qualifications of an
instructor, then the Guild needs some method of assuring the truth of a
representation that a member is a qualified instructor.  Teachers, in my
experience, test pupils before they advance them and those who graduate
unqualified pupils do a disservice to everyone.  I don't intend an award.
Let me use me as an example.  There are certain dances I teach exceptionally
well.  There are other dances I do not teach as well.  One "hole" in my
teaching, is a tendency to assume that students know more than they might.
So, I might say, "After the reverence, turn to the center of the set,
reverence your counters and do a pavane set to 'belly up'"  without first
asking if everyone knows who is a counter and what a pavane set is.  So
let's say I'm asked to teach Figured Pavane.  A member might consider the
"hole" a flaw that can be easily addressed and cast an affirmative vote,
coming to me later and mentioning the problem.  Or s/he might consider it so
significant that s/he could not in good conscience, vouch for my ability to
teach.   Then s/he would cast a negative vote explaining the specific
problem with my teaching and that is something I would concentrate on over
the next few months.  The substantial number of "nay" votes required to
prohibit advancement should keep popularity and personality issues at a

* Second, it is extra hassle on all members. I really would like to avoid
having a meeting of the "dance circle" everytime we get together to dance.
I'd rather just dance. Again, I don't want to set up a parallel to the
peerage circles. One might reply that it wouldn't be like that, since all
Guild members may attend, but in reality it would mostly be the higher level
members that would care enough to attend such a meeting.

I think you underestimate the interest of Ansteorran dancers.  Of those who
attended the meeting at Crown, about half said they have no interest in
teaching any time soon.  I'm suggesting a "spot check."  Once again, I'll
use me as an example.  Let's say I submit a list of 20 dances to be
considered an intermediate instructor.  Guild members would chose at random,
say, five dances and I would teach them as if I was teaching a new group.
Who knows?  There might be dances that guild members would be learning for
the first time.  The evaluation becomes a learning experience.

* Third, the qualifications for the more advanced levels as currently
written are such that they take several events, and many months to satisfy.
It's not really something that can be judged effectively at a single meeting
or event. And once a person has met them, there's not really not much else
to judge.

I don't understand this criticism so I can't respond to it other than to
say, I believe a person can be evaluated adequately on a handful of dances
chosen at random in a relatively short period of time.

* Finally, I don't think it is appropriate that anyone be given the
opportunity to reject an applicant for a level, if he shows in his letter to
the Proctor that he's met the criteria.

No single person could ever block advancement in the system I'm suggesting
(unless s/he was the only evaluator present).  The system should be
affirming and instructive, always seeking to help a guild member improve.
If we are to have "levels" I'd like them to be something more than "I teach,
therefore, I am."

--ihon (a guide, not a gate keeper)

John F. Hirling, 20th century cleric and all around good guy --
skypilotpcusa at
ihon vinson macfergus, 15th century lowland Scot, and all around good guy --
macfergus at

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