Critic on Teaching Philippine Folk Dances

CRITIQUE ON TEACHING PHILIPPINE FOLK DANCES Dance education involves teaching of the tradition, techniques, style and the methodologies of teaching the dance itself - Critic on Teaching Philippine Folk Dances introduction. Tradition is taught in and out of the school, making dance both as an academic discipline and a social practice or custom. The school teaches formally with syllabi and systems whereas the society teaches in communal activities from rites to games, from work to celebrations. Both serve to perpetuate tradition, by both hows, and whys. Schools can codify folk dancing, while society can continue to change this in real life circumstance.

Before, dances such as the Pangalay, a dance of the Samal which is danced languidly on the ground, or precariously on bamboo poles or the pagdiwata of Palawan, which involves offerings during a festival to solicit a good harvest, are now formally taught in schools under the Physical Education program thanks to Francisca Reyes Aquino. The topic that I have chosen is under the Physical Education component which is about Philippine Folk Dances. This is taught in the fourth grading period in high school and partly taught in the collegiate level under the Physical Education 2 subject which is about Dances in general.

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I have chosen this subject since I think of all the topics taught in PE, this has been given minimal consideration especially in teaching, considering that these dances have an integral part in our culture. First is the attainment of the objectives in learning Philippine Folk Dances. Some of the objectives in relation to culture include the following: a) to foster patriotism and nationalism through the study of our dances; b) to arouse better appreciation of Philippines music and folk dances; c) to preserve posterity, folk dances and music indigenous to the different regions in the Philippines.

There are instances that these objectives are neglected and focused more on the technical aspect of learning Philippine Folk Dances, like execution of the steps and presenting the whole dance in front of an audience, without the children learning the importance of learning them in the first place. Another weakness of teaching this subject is that it’s a very broad subject in its sense. Because of the large range of topics covered under the subject, the teacher does not know which of the topics should be given more priority in teaching.

Shall the teacher proceed with teaching the dances themselves, or should she focus more on the roots of the dances performed by the indigenous groups? If she decides to do both, time constraints will become the next dilemma. Would the time be enough to discuss everything that is needed to be learned? Because of these problems, the very essence of learning folk dances is be compromised. Then there is an issue of categorizing Philippine Folk dances by some authors. First as Non-Christian and dances with Christian or Western influences (Tulio, 2008).

This is an implication of a divide within the culture because of the use of the words “Christian” and “Non-Christian”, which is contrary to what Pantayong Pananaw is all about, in which culture should be viewed in an Emic or insider’s perspective. Philippine Folk Dances are also classified in this manner: 1) Dances of the Cordillera groups, 2) Dances of the Mindanao Groups, 3) Spanish/European/Western Influenced Dances, 4) Dances of the Countryside and 5) Dances of the Less Known Groups.

What is bothersome with this type of categorization is the last one which is the dances of the less known groups, which seem to have a negative connotation that since these dances are less known, we should not even bother studying them. But if you look at one example, Kadal Blelah, it is as T’boli dance with mythical bindings imitative of the movements of the birds. Now, isn’t T’boli an indigenous group in Mindanao? Why is it categorized under “less known dances”?

Apparently, the dances were not categorized geographically but socially, or depending on the social status of the groups performing them, which leads to another question, “Is there really the best way to categorize Filipino folk dances”. Lastly subjects are not usually discussed according to the three dimensions of culture. Most of the dances are viewed under the conative dimension so as to save time in teaching the subject. Although it also holds much importance in learning, the other dimensions tend to be neglected especially the cognitive dimension of understanding.

Cognitive dimension usually includes the following questions: “Why did the people perform these dances? ” or “What is the relevance of learning these dances at present? ”. So how can a teacher deal with these weaknesses? One of the challenges one has to encounter is the selection of topics of certain relevance to the student. In other words, since Philippine Folk Dances is a very broad topic to begin with, he/she may start with local dances which are performed within the community.

Or one may start with local or indigenous dances, as taught in the fourth grading period in PE. There should be a clear concept of what is local and what is indigenous so as to avoid confusion among the students. For the instructors to improve on this, he/she can attend to seminars or workshops which can help them achieve this, one example is the National Folk Dance Workshop for Teachers, organized by the Cultural Center of the Philippines in coordination with the Philippine Folk Dance Society.

One of the objectives in the workshop include addressing the problems of folk dance teachers and trainors. Also, in selection of the topics, the instructor should consider the students he/she is teaching. Knowing this would determine the kind of activities the students would be interested in, devising innovative and integrative ways to teach the subject and the methods on how the topic would be effectively delivered to the students. Next, we should keep a keen eye on resources which should be based on Philippine context, not from any Western influences.

Failing to do this might result to a loss of a concept of who we are as Filipino, becoming merely as a product of other influences as mentioned in most learning materials, which should not be the case, since Philippine Folk Dances can actually stand on itself as a topic, which can be based mostly on “particular knowledge” and not “universal knowledge”. As the saying goes, “Everything should start from within. ” Lastly, all three dimensions of culture (cognitive, normative and conative) should be touched when learning about the different Filipino Folk Dances.

In this manner, students would be able to have a deeper understanding that folk dances are not only a part of our lifestyle, not merely performed for entertainment purposes or just to have a good grade in the subject but rather folk dances are an important part of our culture, ever not merely static but also changing according to its environment and the beliefs of the people and that we have and we should be able to preserve it even in the simplest means of appreciating them.

Refences: Tulio, Doris D. Physical Education 2 for College. 2008. National Bookstore. Pages 2-8 Handouts in CPCE 113 – Pedagogy of Cultural Education http://myschoolworks. wordpress. com/2011/02/05/objective-of-teaching-philippine-folk-dances/. April 15, 2013 http://www. deped. gov. ph/index. php/issuances/advisories/document/2013-national-folk-dance-workshop-for-teachers? format=raw. April 15, 2013

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