AD - Recognition - Levels (LONG)

Russell Kinder russmax at
Thu Apr 22 08:34:32 PDT 1999

Esteemed Dancers,

   I'll be somewhat chopping up Ihon's missive, not to take him out of
context, but to only reply to the points on which I have contrasting
opinions. Anything that I've removed, you can assume I agree with.

"Ihon" wrote:
> The question for me was how to accomplish the rationale without my fears
> becoming reality.  The keys, I believe, are

[a. snipped because I agree with it]

> b. in involving as many people in the process as possible.

   I'm not sure I agree with b., although it seems reasonable at first
glance. More on that below.

> Thus, I would propose the following.
[1 and 2 snipped because I agree with them]

> 3) an intermediate level upon an affirmative vote of guild members voting
> (simple majority of those present);
> 4) an advanced level upon an affirmative vote of guild members voting (two
> thirds of those present);
> 5) published opportunities (at least quarterly [at guild meetings?]) for
> members to apply for the next level.

   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.

   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.

   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.  

   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. The Proctor might
reject an applicant because he miscounted and only sent in 19 dances,
instead of 20, or she hasn't done the required reconstructions, but
that's not a subjective judgement. There shouldn't be any difficult
judgement calls, so there shouldn't be any opportunity for a Proctor to
misuse the position. If there is a difficult judgement call to make
regarding an applicant, I say give him/her the benefit of the doubt. An
example might be that the applicant has listed a GOOP dance that the
Proctor isn't familiar with, or has reconstructed a dance from 1670
Playford. Those would perhaps fall outside the bounds of our purpose
statement, but why pick so hard at nits?

   The only administrative hassle that is currently written into the
charter is that the applicant must have a guild member of the status
that they wish to attain sign their letter, to show the Proctor that a
qualified teacher vouches for the applicant. Having the seneschal or
local A&S minister sign, as well, helps keep the applicant honest. I
certainly think that's enough hassle, and perhaps it is too much.

   It will be imperative, though, that the Proctor well-publicize when
members attain new levels.

> I recommend that all guild members have an equal voice in determining the
> capability level of instructors.  "Joe and Jane
> Dancer" are competent to vote on the teaching abilities of an applicant.
> They may not have the same knowledge of the dances as advanced dancers have,
> but they certainly know whether the applicant has been able to teach them a
> dance.  If someone has a serious problem with technique or accuracy, let
> that person bring it up in discussion. (This also addresses the people who
> initially apply for a level because each of us will have a vote. [An aside -
> I recommend that none of us apply for any level until after we are chartered
> so we present the charter to the crown as a company of equals]).

   At least I agree with that last aside. 

   I don't really have a problem with the process being democratic, as
you propose. I just think that there's not enough of a judgement call
required that anyone needs to vote on it. If a someone does notice a
problem with a teacher's accuracy or technique, that could be handled by
having qualified members of the guild simply speak to the person about
it. Education, not exclusion. If it's Joe or Jane Dancer who notice the
problem, they could enlist the aid of the Proctor or members with high
level certification to educate the person. If we start judging the
quality of a teacher's style as a criterion for certification, then we
open a can of worms, I fear.

   In regard to assigning levels after the charter is signed, no vote
would be required, I think. We would have to waive the requirement that
a Guild member of your desired level vouch for you, since none would
exist yet. Perhaps that could initially be just any other Guild member.
Each of us should bring a letter to ATYC, listing our qualifications for
whichever level we think we deserve. A local officer should sign it,
too. Once we've elected a Proctor, we give our letters to him/her.

   One last note about all of this. All of the above is still a
discussion of details regarding levels. Both Ihon and I think levels are
a good idea, we're just discussing details of how levels will be given.
I really want to hear from someone who doesn't want levels in the guild.
If we haven't heard anything by next Thursday, we can assume that
everyone is OK with levels. Meanwhile, let's continue the discussion we
have going here. We'll discuss specific criteria for levels after this
is hashed out.

Devoted to dance,
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