Tango Argentino > Do I have a bad teacher? Should I quit?

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by M. Bingley, May 10, 2013.


Should I quit?

  1. Yes

  2. No

  1. newbie

    newbie Well-Known Member

    Are there independant milongas in town or is the teacher also organizing them? That is, is there any tango at all besides this guy? If he is the Godfather of tango in this "one-horse town" then yes, it's better to put your money and free time into another hobby.

    I've been a student in classes where the teacher used to put together people from various levels, ranging from absolute beginner to seasoned intermediate, spliiting all the people into three or four little groups and going from one group to the other during the whole class/workshop, showing different things to different groups. And from what I saw, it does not work.
  2. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

    have you tried empathising with him? It can be very frustrating teaching tango since everyone comes with a lifelong posture which needs to change to new position in order to dance tango well, and it is one of the hardest things to change since our body's idea of what is 'normal' feels any change to be off kilter, even if its not. A bit of anger management might help, but your conclusion of arrogance and insecurity might be off. sounds more like impatience and frustration to me, which I can quite understand.
  3. M. Bingley

    M. Bingley New Member

    Reasoning with him? Another thing with this guy is that he doesn't want to talk to students. Other than superficial pleasantries, he generally cuts people off or ignores them when they try to talk to him. He doesn't respond to emails except with pleasantries.

    At some level he knows the effect he has on the students, except that he justifies himself. He enjoys telling this story about how he made a student cry in class to illustrate what a tough teacher he is. He talks "straight" and doesn't "fall for that PC nonsense," he likes to say. Also, he has a crappy job, and this student was professionally respected. He really likes to emphasize that aspect.

    Again, the only thing that has worked with him is getting him to drink more. That seems to provide the chemical change he needs to be a more balanced human being. Alas, I failed to get him to drink before class regularly.

    I have done other demanding physical activities, and I am accomplished. I can recognize when it's a problem with the student and when it's a problem with the teacher. I knew there was a problem with the teacher. He has a history of pushing away most of the talented people, leaving only mediocre students around him, with the exception of his girlfriend. What I didn't know was whether tango teachers in general are nuts.

    Anyway, I got what I need here. I have learned that this is not the norm for tango. There is an instructor in the nearest big city, except that she's not very experienced (only 8 years under her belt). I'll see how she behaves in class.
  4. Mladenac

    Mladenac Well-Known Member

    And how far it is?

    Don't get critical too soon. ;)
  5. pascal

    pascal Active Member

    Susanna Miller does just that all the time, and many people say she is a very good teacher. Only one stusent in tears so far? Room for improvement.
  6. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    As said above: I find the role of an instructor by far overestimated in tango!
  7. Mladenac

    Mladenac Well-Known Member

    It is and it is not. ;)
  8. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

    making a student cry in class, not difficult, I can get all my students to cry. All that is required is some strong onions ;)
  9. Loki

    Loki Well-Known Member

    "Drink more and mellow out"?
  10. sixela

    sixela Well-Known Member

    Some of the best ones are. Michelle and Murat Erdemsel are definitely nuts, but in a very, very, very good way.
  11. Mladenac

    Mladenac Well-Known Member

    Which nuts? :D
    walnuts, chestnuts, hazelnuts, coconuts ...
    dchester likes this.
  12. M. Bingley

    M. Bingley New Member

    Perhaps it is not particularly difficult, but then that goes for anything worth learning, not just tango. But do you do it because you have a bad job, and you feel bad because your student has a much better job? And are you proud of it?

    Now, I wasn't there to witness the incident that day, so I don't know what actually happened. However, what the instructor presents as the truth is quite telling about his personality. Two people seem to be missing the point here.
    bordertangoman likes this.
  13. Mladenac

    Mladenac Well-Known Member

    We gave you our opinions.
    It's you who must make decision. :cool:

    When are you taking the decision? ;)
  14. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    Donuts, of course
    dchester likes this.
  15. Gssh

    Gssh Well-Known Member

    I think the first thing is to disentangle the different issues:

    1) Do you have a bad teacher?
    Yes, you do. In my experience if somebody is posting a thread on an internet board asking a question like this is that they have already decided that there is a problem, and are mostly looking for support for their opinion
    2) Should you quit taking classes from this teacher?
    That is a more difficult question - I had some teachers in varied fields that I thought were horrible people, and I stayed their student as long as it wasn't a situation that I judged to be actually harmful for me/ where I didn't learn anything. I don't really expect teachers to be anything else besides knowledgeable in what they are teaching - there were some that were actually horrible at teaching, too, and I stuck with them till I had "stolen" as much as I could.
    3) Should you quit tango?
    I am not sure what that has to do with the first two questions. I think of tango as a social dance that in the end only exists at the milonga. I assume that if there is a tango class there is also a milonga, and you won't be banned from the milonga if you don't attend class. I think most of tango can be learned by dancing at milongas, and being aware and honest with one self, and accepting and listening to the feedback our partners give us in their dance. In the end it is really just walking. Having a teacher makes the whole thing much, much easier, and we will pick up some pieces of vocabulary we might not have invented ourselves, but if the fundamentals are there the rest is a) refining these fundamentals and b) add some (mostly unnecessary) frosting, and in the end there are no secrets or shortcuts.

    Loki likes this.
  16. Lilly_of_the_valley

    Lilly_of_the_valley Well-Known Member

    You don't go to class to psychoanalyze the teacher or judge him on his personality. You go there to learn.
    Unless his behavior makes the learning difficult or impossible, whatever goes on in the darkness of his soul is actually none of your business.
    bordertangoman likes this.
  17. M. Bingley

    M. Bingley New Member

    Thanks for all your input. Gssh makes some good points. I've already made up my mind.

    After studying various things for decades, I do feel students tend to absorb some of their teacher's personality and behavior. Around twenty years ago, I knew indirectly this school (not tango), whose teacher, though charismatic and effective, was a drug dealer. He got many of his students into drugs, and some worked for him as dealers. This is an extreme example, I know, and what the student absorb from the teacher can be utterly unpredictable. But I do think there are some cases where you have to start worrying about what else you are learning besides the lessons you've signed up for. I've seen "less extreme" examples where the teacher leaves some sort of psychological imprint in the students, not always for the better.

    With my tango teacher, it's a rather sad situation. I recognize that he's not enormously gifted physically, and his tango ability is an accomplishment that he acquired through a great deal of effort. Often people who have had to do so really know how to teach, because they had to struggle to learn. (By contrast, dance geniuses can have a hard time explaining what they do so simply and easily.) Alas, this man let his bad experiences (in tango and in life) poisoned him, and that's really damaging what he can give to the world.

    It's not my duty to psychoanalyze tango instructors, but I was torn between my love of the art form and the drawbacks of my school. If it were anything else I'd immediately walk out, because the way that man behaves in class on a bad day is not acceptable. So I do want to understand what's going on, and what seems like "psychoanalysis" is just a part of this process. Initially I wondered whether abusive behaviors are just common in tango. Who knows, maybe it is. Two people are talking about making their students cry.

    Hopefully the next time I post, I'll be able report some better news!
  18. Lilly_of_the_valley

    Lilly_of_the_valley Well-Known Member

    At least you managed to fall in love with tango taking his classes, and that is a lot... any teacher would be happy and proud of that kind of a result... unless, in your case, it has come from somewhere else?
  19. M. Bingley

    M. Bingley New Member

    I got interested in tango from my previous ballroom experience, and that made me want to try out the Argentinian original. I'll give credit where it's due: my former instructor is precise and on the spot when he actually teaches, and I like that sort of stuff.

    This wasn't my first experience with problematic and even outright abusive teachers. They tend not to affect what I see in the art form.
  20. Mladenac

    Mladenac Well-Known Member

    I came across various teachers in my life. The point is can you learn what you want.
    I was at the same position as you are now, but I knew what I came for.
    My desire and energy was stronger than obstacles.

    If you approach AT to analytically you won't get essence from it.
    Every time you dance you are dancing with a person that day, that moment.
    I am inclining that you will, but I know a quite amount of people who came from BR to AT.

    AT is social dancing and it's not only a dance, it is kind of culture.
    Over time you will be change in a much positive ways.
    Which ones? You need to find out by yourself. ;)

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