Peevish Pen

Ruminations on reading, writing, rural living, retirement, aging—and sometimes cats. And maybe a border collie or other critters.

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Location: Rural Virginia, United States

I'm an elderly retired teacher who writes. Among my books are Ferradiddledumday (Appalachian version of the Rumpelstiltskin story), Stuck (middle grade paranormal novel), Patches on the Same Quilt (novel set in Franklin County, VA), Them That Go (an Appalachian novel), Miracle of the Concrete Jesus & Other Stories, and several Kindle ebooks.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Girl on the Right?

Every so often, this meme floats around social media. The picture of five little girls at a ballet lesson is called "Be the Girl on the Right." But do we really want to be that girl? What about the girls on the left?

The girls on the left appear to be trying to learn proper ballet technique. No doubt they are all looking in the direction of the instructor who is showing them what to do. Now, I'm no dancer (the only dance class I ever had was a one-semester modern dance class that I took my freshman year in college to satisy a PE requirement), but I know that ballet has five positions a potential ballerina must learn before she actually dances. It takes practice to become perfect at them.

The girl to the far left—the one at the head of the line—looks a bit stiff but is making a good attempt to get in position. She appears to be looking at the instructor for directions and she's trying. The next girl seems a bit confused about what she has to do, but again—she's looking for instruction. She's not being disruptive. The others aren't bothered by her attempts because at least she's trying. The third girl looks like she's trying hard—maybe trying to figure out what to do, but she appears to be concentrating on the instructor. Likely she'll catch on soon. The fourth girl exudes professionalism. She has both the graceful stance and the outfit. Her face shows concentration. She looks like the star of the class, and I'll bet she worked hard to achieve this. To her credit, she seems to be doing a good job of tuning out the disruptive girl behind her.

Does the ill-mannered girl on the right think she's so special that rules don't apply to her? Apparently  she wants to do her own thing and feel entitled to do so. Why?  Does she think she's in a gymnastics class? Does she not play well with others? Did her mother sign her up for ballet thinking it might make her behave better (if so, it didn't work)?  Whatever the reason, her antics ruin the lesson for those who truly want to learn and waste the instructor's time. Why should anyone want to be disruptive like her? If I were a parent who'd paid for my daughter to learn ballet, I'd be angry that the girl on the right is thwarting my daughter's attempts to learn. 

I feel sorry for the girl on the right. When recital time rolls around, she won't have the skills to be able to dance well, and the other dancers will hate her for screwing up their performance. 

I think it's important that all children benefit from experiences that involve teamwork—whether it's playing on a sports team, singing in a choir, playing in a band, acting in a play, dancing, etc. Children should learn that it's good to be in a cooperative situation with others, where all the participants' talents create a whole that's bigger than the sum of its parts. They shouldn't be encouraged to have an "I'm-gonna-do-my-own-thing-the-hell-with-you" attitude. They can do their own thing on their own time—at home.

I taught drama for many years, so I saw the results of what a group of like-minded students working together could accomplish. I think most of the kids I taught profited from being a part of the whole. (Yeah, I had one high schooler who didn't like her costume and refusd to wear it until I had a meeting with both her parents. And I had a few middle schoolers who wanted to do their own thing, including skipping a performance entirely. But most were cooperative. And I was proud to be their teacher.) 

One variation of the "Girl on the Right" meme adds another line: "There are two kinds of people in the world, you and everyone else." Uh, no. That would only apply to you if you were an insufferable narcissist who didn't give a rat's patoot for others and only wanted to be disruptive or thwart others in the pursuit of their happiness. Marching to a different drummer might be fine, but only when you're in a one-woman band. Actually, there are lots of kinds of people in the world—you're not as unique as you might think.

So, if you want to be the outcast that no one wants to play with, be the girl on the right. But if you want to improve your skills, contribute to the success of the performance, be the best that you can be, and generally be a responsible citizen, be one of the girls on the left.
OK. Rant over. Stepping off my soapbox now. . . .
[Images used on this post are on numerous sites all over the net. If I knew the creator, I would give credit.]

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