Collegiality Through Play – Collegiality Part III

Juggling and performing art classes provide many opportunities to the kids that participate. ‘Play’ is an art, it’s a tool and most of all it’s a right we believe children should have. We think that giving kids an opportunity to play, form relationships with other children and laugh is pretty cool. But there are other aspects to ‘play’ and the classes in Quillacollo beyond a fun, safe and encouraging environment. The art of juggling is the art of defying gravity.

Throwing stuff up

A respected innovator and teacher once said, “You may hate gravity, but gravity doesn’t care,” no matter what you do it is going to persist. In this regard juggling is a playful dance with physics. The juggler – through play and perseverance – takes these laws that cannot be suspended and uses them to create. It requires a lot of coordination and practice but once learnt the results are frequently empowering and entertaining. But not only that, the juggler’s attitude is to always find new and more skilful ways of doing it again.

In the Quillacollo classes we fund, once a participant has learnt a ‘cascade’ pattern with the clubs their next lesson is to become proficient at ‘passes’. ‘Passing’ is the act of juggling in partnership with another person and can be viewed as a metaphor for collegiality. Once the juggler has self-mastery they then take on the challenge of working with another person to create a more sophisticated way of doing what they just learnt. In this situation both jugglers need to be conscious of their own handling skills, as well as sending the clubs back to their partner so that they can maintain the pattern.

One student and patient teacher

Learning to do ‘passes’ is very difficult. A participant, Wilder, at the project, who was at least 20 years Bevan’s junior, tried to teach him on one occasion. Despite a self belief that he is a coordinated person, he was truly terrible at this. Wilder would stop and explain the pattern, do a cold-run with just the actions, then move onto the live practice. Down the juggling balls would go. Not everyone learns at the same pace. Luckily for Bevan, his teacher was incredibly patient and they kept stopping and discussing what needed to be done better before going through several more attempts. Down the balls went. Try again. Throw a few more attempts up. Another quick chat. Down the balls go. Repeat.

At first we could not figure out where this kid was getting all his patience from, let alone his measured teaching style and confidence to do so. It wasn’t until much later that we realised that this is how he learned. Nobody learns any of this stuff in a day. But through the routine of coming back day after day, improving incrementally and having Wilder’s colleagues talk to him and keep him motivated – he learnt how to do passes. And now he was doing the same with Bevan.

Soft and hard collegiality through play

Collegiality is learnt in many places and can be practiced in many different ways. One of the best places we have ever seen it demonstrated is right within our sponsored project. And not only in the way the programme is set out but in the very participants themselves. Projects like the Quillacollo group teach soft and hard collegiality. For that we are proud of the work we are supporting and the opportunities for the kids to grow through the simple act of play.

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