We watch Strictly.  Partner can dance…or he would if we could find lessons locally to get me up to speed.  We started learning but then life got in the way, you know how it does.

As a kid I did ballet for years, but was way too tall and not very good so for all my reading of Ballet Shoes, I knew Saddlers Wells was just a dream.

We love the glitz and the glamour, and of course we are all very proficient arm chair judges.  We have Jay Mc Guiness (age 25) down as out winner.  I’m useless at just watching TV so am crocheting my Strictly Blankets which I have grandly told the children will be theirs for when they leave home..I have aspirations that they will be family heirlooms, but fear they won’t be.

However, Strictly is more than just sparkle and silly ‘inspiration’ assignments.  As a teacher, so much of what it shows would be part of my ideal learning environment that I would wish for all learners.

Firstly is shows what can be achieved with lots of hard work, practice and a great coach.  OK, not everyone becomes a dancer (ref Jeremy Vine), but everyone becomes a better dancer than they were before. Every singe one of them is pushed outside their comfort zones and grows as a result.

Like any great teacher, the dance partners scaffold the learning so that with each dance the celebrity is pushed just a little bit further than they ever thought they could go.

You can only scaffold (Vygotsky) when you know your student really well.  If only schools had the time to build such close relationship built on trust. Imagine what you could achieve if you had a teacher/mentor who really had your back and believed in you and took you step by step through what you need to do to succeed.

As a result of the relationship, participants are able to focus completely on what they are doing, without distractions or concern about what other people are thinking.

I love that the cameras capture the mistake, the difficulties and the sweat of the rehearsal room.  What a great lesson to our kids; no one succeeds without failing a lot first.  Failure is just seen as an opportunity to get better and better. Hard work and sweat are part of winning just as much as the final routine.

We see the celebrities feeling vulnerable and nervous, what a great message; that’s we all have those feelings no matter how famous, cool, young, rich etc we are. It normalizes celebrities and makes them more human, In so doing, they make us feel that we too could achieve great things; they are normal and they did it, so why not us?

We love Craig in our house because when he likes something it means it’s really good. Not for him woolly platitudes but detailed, specific feedback about what needs to be addressed.  When he likes something you know it has to be good.

It is also important that the judges are role models.  We have googled each and every one of them and the kids have been impressed with their prowess.  The professional dancers and the judges provide aspirational role models for the contestants and yet remain human enough for the contestants to relate to.

I love that the celebrities talk about their families, friends and work.  We see the stress of juggling home and work. We meet children and spouses.  Home life is acknowledged as an important part of the Strictly experience and so rather than push it to one side, they embrace and include it. Oh that schools could do the same.

Imagine if staff brought their kids to school, if kids could bring their parents, if parents came in to talk about their work, if grandparents could share their wisdom?

Finally, I love the fact that the show has no age boundaries.  The average age of the female contestants last week was 35 with Katie Derham  dancing beautifully age 45.  It shows that we don’t stop learning how ever old we are. We just need commitment, focus and a great teacher and away we go.

  • Who were your most inspiring teachers and mentors and what was it about them that inspired you?
  • Who can you mentor and inspire this year? How can you share your skills and your wisdom to help other people?

So with 2016 coming…I’m wondering what I’d like to learn next year and who my teachers will be.

  • What would you love to learn?

It’s never to late.

Now where were those ballroom classes again?



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