When Gracie and Jumi became interested in ballet as their personal movement goal, they wanted Ms. Alison to read a book called The Ballet Class.
"Yuck! Ballet is for girls!", someone said.
This immediately prompted a lot of debate and discussion. The conversations continued during lunch and snack times and during our Morning and Afternoon meetings.
Rui: No, Miria's ballet teacher is a boy and there's even one boy in her class.
Gracie: And there's a boy in The Ballet Class book.
Jay: But it isn't really for boys.
As our discussions continued some of our minds started to change. We wondered if a ballet class with our 'expert', Rui's sister Miria, would help us to further develop our thinking.
During our ballet lesson, we wondered about the FORM of ballet ("What is it like?") and whether it could be for both boys and girls ("Can we all do the moves?" Are there different kinds of ballet for boys and girls?")
We learned different ballet positions and moves and practiced following Miria's instructions.
- Jay: I liked the jumps.
- Eddie: When we were doing the ballet I was so happy because I was doing so more movements and I liked jumping up and standing on my toes.
- Rui: I liked the [leaping] jump.
- Gracie: I like the moves. All of them.
- Ms. Alison: I thought it was interesting that Miria said that ballet can be for boys and girls but sometimes they do different moves. Does anyone else remember that?
- Kotaru: Yeah! Boys spin in the air and girls spin on the floor.
After our discussion, we watched a video of a boy and girl doing ballet together. Ms. Alison told us that they were professionals and dance ballet as their jobs. We noticed that the boy and girl sometimes danced the same and sometimes had different roles. For example, the boy sometimes lifted the girl. We made an immediate connection to what Miria had told us about boys and girls turning differently in ballet.
- Eddie: First he was carrying her and then he put her down.
- Rui: Oh I would like to try to do that. It's like a pattern!
Then Ms. Alison asked some final questions:
- Ms. Alison: After our ballet lesson and the video, I'm wondering, does anyone still think "Yuck! Ballet is for girls!" ?
- Everyone: No.
- Ms. Alison: So if you don't think that, what do you think instead?
- Everyone: Ballet is for boys AND girls!
- Ms. Alison: How did doing ballet make you feel?
- Gracie: Calm.
- Jumi: Strong muscles. All the muscles.
- Rui: It made me more relaxed.
- Eddie: When I was doing the little running rat it made me calm and have a bit of fun.
- Ms. Alison: Why do you think people would choose ballet as a kind of movement?
- Gracie: Because you stretch.
- Eddie: It gets you a bit more sport. Ballet is a type of sport.
- Rui: No it's not a sport because it's not feeling like a sport. A sport is like tennis, running or a race.
- Kotaru: Yes it is a sport because Jumi said you use muscles.
- Jay: Ballet doesn't feel like sport.
- Eddie: Ballet is a special type of sport. It gives you relax and muscles.
- Rui: But I only feel relaxed when I'm running.
- Gracie: Yoga is a type of exercise and it's like ballet because you feel relaxed and they're quiet.
- Jumi: Ballet is good for muscles [indicating to ankle & foot] and yoga does the same.
- Gracie: We can practice some harder moves.
- Eddie: I want to see if I can go on my tippy toes.
- Kotaru: We can do more move and practice like Miria showed.
Ms. Alison has been interested to see how the open-mindedness that we have shown towards ballet has had an impact on other areas of our learning. Over the last few days our changing concept of gender roles and distinctions has been especially evident in our free play.
Many of us used to talk about how certain games and materials were "only for boys" or "only for girls". Our discussions have shifted now and Ms. Alison has heard a few children say "everything is for boys AND for girls".
When Ms. Alison repeated this statement back to the class for their opinions, everyone agreed!