This marks 800 posts to this webspace. Yay!
While I was in high school, I was a bandsman, marching a saxophone on the football field in the fall or slinging it in songs through the rest of the year. And I admit to being jealous of the football players in the glory they accrued even when they lost game after game after game, when an award-winning band could hardly get noticed, and a state-qualifying volleyball team got only passing mention. And I admit, too, to no small disdain at the time for the other common accompaniments to the football team: the cheerleaders and the dance team.
I’ll admit, too, that my opinion did not improve while I was an undergrad or a grad student; if anything, it soured further in graduate school, when I was a teaching assistant and got to field complaints from such students, their coaches, and their parents that I graded their papers with the same intensity that I graded any others. (The grade distribution I reported most recently is perhaps less generous than my earliest college teaching, though it occasioned fewer complaints. The first class I taught at college saw more than a quarter earn As and 65% earn Bs, while the first time I taught an equivalent of the session’s class saw more than a fifth earn As and more than a quarter earn each of Bs and Cs.) And in the years after graduate school, while I was making a go of being a full-time academic, I was…less sanguine yet.
As happens with a great many people, having a child changed my outlook. My wife and I enrolled our daughter in dance classes early on, and our daughter, Ms. 8, thrived. She did so even more when we switched her dance school to one that has operated in my hometown–Kerrville, Texas–for decades. Ms. 8 enjoys the classes, even if she is still not at a point to have the discipline to practice the way she’ll need to do to more with it. (And I am aware of the problems in such a worldview as would push a five-year-old towards that kind of discipline, thank you. I am also aware of a number of other applicable circumstances, and I have to consider them, as well.) So when there was an opportunity for us to get her a little bit more work and a bit of a different perspective on it, courtesy of the local high school’s cheer and dance programs, my wife and I took it on Ms. 8’s behalf.
Our girl seemed to do pretty well, and I was gratified to see it. There are things she’s learning in her cheer and dance classes that I will never be able to teach her, and I am aware of the benefits of her knowing them. Ms. 8 gets good exercise, and she is making more friends through the classes. They do her no harm, so far as I can see. And I cannot hold them to fault when they are doing for my beloved daughter what they are.