There are days at work I call “classified’s days”: ones where you go home and look in the classified’s for a new job. Then there are days like today, when all the work and stress seems worthwhile.
As a camp counselor in my twenties, I noted how the simplest of games- Duck Duck Goose– continued to enthrall the campers. When technological games that I don’t even know the names of absorb the attention of the average kid, its good to see them quietly read a book or play outside. Those simple pleasures really get to our souls and don’t seem to ever become outdated.
In a scene of the book my students are reading, the characters dance to the music of “Sir Roger de Coverley.” As most of my best lesson ideas occur pretty much out of nowhere, I decided yesterday we would learn to dance the Virginia Reel.
Now, when I was in junior high, I had a chorus teacher who taught us many of these old dances. I remembered it vaguely, but YouTube to the rescue showed me a clip of the dance from the Jane Austen Society.
After watching the clip several times, myself, I caught on. This morning, I showed it to my students and picked ten of them to be the first group. After a few false starts, everyone caught on as they danced to the music of the video.
When your students are asking you, can we go again? Saying: “We should do this every Friday,” you know you’ve got a hit on your hands. The dancing days for these kids are not over. They have plans to form a league!
But, what I enjoyed the most was, having gotten them started, I was able to sit back a bit and let them just go for it. The dance calls for a group of six people standing across from one another. It requires them to bow to each other, swing around first by one hand and then the other, then both, to do-si-do, sashay from one end of the column to the other, and finally form a bridge for the others to go underneath.
These long, forgotten traditions are both surprisingly and unsurprisingly the ones that bring the most joy. Skipping around the room and getting their heartrates up, combined with innocent touching, is just the sort of thing that is appropriate for thirteen-year-olds.
It was just a reminder to me to always start simple. There is so much joy that can be felt through so little. The Victorians knew it; why don’t we?
- A Southern Music Hall of Fame in Jacksonville? (news4jax.com)
- A Dance with Jane Austen, by Susannah Fullerton – A Review (austenprose.com)
- Guest post: Susannah Fullerton on her A Dance with Jane Austen and book giveaway! (janeausteninvermont.wordpress.com)
- Self Improvement Wed – A Dance with Jane Austen (blogs.abc.net.au)