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Tough times at vocational school


Mumontherun
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Just wondering what others feel about this? After a few years at vocational school we're well aware just how competitive the world of ballet is but when does it overstep the line? Our child was in tears again today after class where she messed up in a couple of things. The teacher was good about it and dd wasn't upset by the fact that she messed up as she knows that happens to everyone. She was more upset because she was aware of some of the class tittering and making comments. She says it just makes her feel rubbish. We've told her she just has to ignore them but it's getting her down as it's happened before. She's quite mature, works hard and can put up with a lot but my question is, should she have to? We've always taught her to try to treat others as you'd like to be treated yourself and maybe that's why she's finding this so tough. She's been doing fine at school and her reports and feedback have been good so far. I'd appreciate any advice anyone might have if they've been in similar circumstances.

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Jeliousy is very common and if your DD is a hard working pupil and doing well in reports it is the breeding ground for this kind of behaviour. To me its like in my day if you were like this at school you were labelled teachers pet and sniggered at if you made a mistake in class. X

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MOTR ... No, your dd should not have to put up with this. Healthy competition amongst peers is one thing, but this sort of behaviour is, in my opinion, out of order. Students should be able to learn, make mistakes and take corrections in the class/studio environment without negative reactions from peers. I would also expect the teacher to put a stop to it. This sort of thing can also be compounded when students are at vocational school as they all have to live together. Issues can spill over from the studio and into the boarding house.

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Mumontherun I could easily have written your post a few years ago and I have to agree with Miracle's post.

It does seem to be an issue that dance staff seem

to be oblivious to even though it is happening in their class. I spoke to house staff about it and they said much the same as Miracle but wanted dd to report to them when it was too much to cope with.

Interestingly the girls that gave my dd most grief have been assessed out along the way.

A few years on she can now 'switch off' to most snide remarks and concentrate on what she is there for.

Nearly the end of term - these things more difficult to cope with when they are tired.

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Can't the teachers hear the sniggering and snide remarks? Aren't the students supposed to be watching and listening when they are not actually dancing, rather than whispering and chatting? It seems to me that some of the teachers at these vocational schools are pretty slack and don't have much authority in the studio.

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There will always be those who want to drag you down and sit waiting for you to make a mistake ! It happens in every sport and in every school or work place ! IMO Those that put others down are hiding their own issues and insecurities. When my dd started at vocational school she was the last in, number 13, and struggled initially with confidence and to feel worthy of her place. With lots of reassurance, love, support and some great friends and teachers she is blossoming ! She still messes up ! She now laughs and learns! I forget the ballet now and focus on her growing into a beautiful young lady ! Chin up ! A well earned break is on the horizon x

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Just keep supporting her the way you are doing. This type of behaviour is often jealousy but it is also a lack of maturity and seems to be an unfortunate phase some teenage girls go through. It is also possible that they are not tittering and making comments about her but because she knows she has messed up she thinks it is about her. some people will just try and whisper and giggle at any opportunity. Is she friends with these people out of class? I would encourage her to talk more to you and perhaps boarding house staff if there are issues outside of class but otherwise just keep reassuring her that she's doing fine.

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Children are nasty and no matter wether you are at vocational school or main stream they are still nasty.  Rising above it is the best policy but that's hard, telling the responsible person is also hard, using your words for a shy person is also hard or laughing at yourself. I think it really depends on the persons personality what that person does. I have been there and until I left the school it didn't stop.

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Ballet class can be a very cruel place.  The 'mistakes' which we make are so open - observable by everyone.  Most of us are very sensitive to any kind of physical clumsiness or a misstep.  One has to remember that 'mistakes' are really not errors - but endeavors at success.  Success doesn't happen without those 'mistakes.'  

 

But I have found that those who spend their time ridiculing others are usually not the ones who make progress.  They've put their energy in ridicule rather than using their time constructively.

 

No matter the milieu - whether it is ballet class, a work environment, a sport, etc., - there will always be those who have little to occupy their minds but snickering at others.  It speaks volumes of who they are and what their priorities are.  

 

At the same time, there is usually a set of nicer people about and it is they to whom we should direct our time and attention.  Find someone else in class who is as serious minded as you - make a friend  - be a friend - and ignore the other lot.  

 

Choosing our friends and deciding to whom we pay attention is part of growing up.  It's not easy - life is difficult and there are always those who make it more difficult.  Why?  They can't think of anything else to do.  That's bespeaks an empty head doesn't it?

 

Let dance fill your heart and hear only the music.

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Thanks everyone for your kind words and support. I know you're all making sense and what you've all said we've said much the same in the past to our dd too! We're hoping it will pass and thankful that the holidays are nearly here for a break. As I've said already we knew ballet was a hard business to get into but we're still shocked at times at how some people can act. It's opened our eyes.

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It is possible that the other girls were chattering and giggling about something else - teenage girls will giggle about anything and everything... I find it really annoying in any of my classrooms (studio or lab!) which makes me also wonder why the teacher hasn't spotted it or at least told the girls to be quiet!

 

I second the advice that the end of term burnout is creeping in too, students and staff are all starting to fight the wind down. Our brains and bodies see the end in sight, are tired and have had enough yet our timetables, teachers, managers etc are all telling us we need to keep working hard.

 

Try to cheer your DD up with positive energy and thoughts of shows, holidays etc and remind her that if it IS her that the girls are giggling about, it's all because they want to make themselves feel more powerful because they are jealous and insecure. They're using a nasty way to do it - and at the end of the day they'll still feel insecure especially if other people see that they're being nasty.

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Mumontherun. I really feel for you and your dd! We have just had a very similar experience with my dd but not at Vocational school but at EYB. I would go as far to say that my daughter was being 'bullied' by her group of dancers. She can be a little shy round new people and because (I'm sure she was the youngest if the group ), they teased, laughed, and sniggered behind her back and seemed to just pick on anything to bring her down! I'm really proud that she stuck with rehearsals however said each morning she didn't want to go. She danced beautifully and really loved the performances however the back stage nastiness really spoiled the experience for her. It's really knocked her confidence but we are slowly getting back on track . She rehearses tonight as her and another ballet freak are dancing at their school fair a week on Sat so she is thrilled to have been picked by her dance teacher. It does seem that some children are just so cruel but as another has said, it's mainly jealousy as they see others as a threat. It's all a learning curve and makes them a stronger person.

Good luck to your dd and the outcome! Thinking of you!

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Not usually taken by Taylor Swift lyrics but 'Dont you worry your pretty little mind - people throw rocks at things that shine' is very useful as a line repeated mentally when dealing with this sort of jealous immature behaviour.

 

It will happen throughout life and in many different situations and unfortunately successful, able people will have to learn to deal with this sort of thing. It is very difficult to deal with it as a child or teenager and the teacher should surely be able to squash this behaviour.

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Yes pictures, I remember. I think there are 'bullies' in all walks of life!

Just returned from rehearsal and dd and the other girl, a yr 5 pupil who dances at Elmhurst ja's were absolutely stunning to watch. (Dance teacher let us have a sneak preview).

We may not have had a positive experience recently but she has risen above it and made me very proud tonight (brought a year to my eye).

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That is always a really a tough one to deal with especially when young and if away from home. Are there other students perhaps older whom your DC could speak to and seek support? As people say, it is typically jealousy and designed to put the other down. The take home point is that if there is a need to put another down then it is likely they are seen as being higher in the pecking order so to speak.

Some things that helped me in my career were trying to turn the upset into another emotion and think 'I'll show them". Almost using it as a way to enhance focus.

There is also a great saying "what other people think of me is none of my business". At a student to student level I think this can be useful as input from staff is more important.

Try and also find things that take you away from the ballet world even if it's going out for walks etc. Things removed from a world which in effect revolves around it's own axis are v grounding. Having non-dancing friends is useful too.

It does usually pass in my experience as it tends to be triggered by something which evokes jealousy and this dissipates over time. In the meantime it can help to use classes to dance out the emotions that come up from the events that are occurring. It's amazing how emotionally therapeutic plies can be or any exercise where you really connect with the music and can use it almost as a non verbal form of therapy in itself.

If it endures then there is always the option of talking to the school but some manage these dynamics better than others. If nothing else it is good training for the real world of a dance career but if you are seeing that it is beginning to impact emotional and physical health after trying other options there must be some route within the school to address this issue.

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Really sorry to here that children described above are getting into voc school, taking it for granted, and spoiling it for others. Haven't you got to have a beautiful spirit to move people when you dance? Without that I can imagine I would probably 'glaze over' if I had to watch them dance. There are plenty of talented and lovely dancers out there who would relish the chance of going to voc school and who, although young, act with integrity and kindness too. Mumontherun, Maybe the girls need to be referred back to the schools anti bullying policy.

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Children are nasty and no matter wether you are at vocational school or main stream they are still nasty.  Rising above it is the best policy but that's hard, telling the responsible person is also hard, using your words for a shy person is also hard or laughing at yourself. I think it really depends on the persons personality what that person does. I have been there and until I left the school it didn't stop.

 

This is true but the problem of being away at school is there is nowhere to escape.  You eat, sleep and live with these people.  Its very diferent if you can come home from school, and have a hug and a chat with your mum or dad - a phone call just isnt the same. 

 

Often perceived friends will join in with the banter as they dont want to be excluded from the group.  It isnt a nice situation, and unfortunatley the Houseparents in my DD's situation seemed to brush the issues away rather than dealing with them.  Some parents are more dominating that others and HP's often managed a situation in order to receive less grief from themselves rather than tackling things head on.  I frequently found the behaviour of other students unacceptable and it was of a far lower standard than expected at our local secondary school.  My DD decided to put up and learn to live with it but it really didnt make for a nice experience.  She was assessed out in Year 9 but as a parent my regret is not having the guts to take her out earlier - she now agrees it would have been better to leave.  It was wonderful to have the opportunity to see what life is like but you have to weigh up if it is worth the compromise and sacrifice.  I know its been mentioned in other threads but as parents we are paying (subsidising) for this training, I dont think some schools realise the full responsibility they have for raising these children, which is afterall, is what they are doing.

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I'm sure that most schools have anti-bullying policies but I think that relationships between students need to be managed more proactively as a lot of behaviour, although unpleasant, probably does not actually amount to bullying, certainly for the purposes of an anti-bullying policy. As with most problems arising at the these vocational schools, students and parents are reluctant to complain fearing that it could have a negative consequences in an environment which is not open to scrutiny and in which a lot of decisions eg further training, casting for roles etc are down to the personal opinions of a small number of people. In these types of schools particularly, anti-bullying policies should be supported by other policies promoting supportive peer relationships and teamwork and condemning spiteful and mean behaviour and excessive competitiveness. After all, most students will end up in the corps and if you can't work as part of a team and support your colleagues through good times and bad then you're not going to be much good to the company and you're going to find yourself pretty friendless which will make your working life fairly miserable. If you follow dancers on twitter you will see how often they thank each other for extra help and support, praise each others' successes and step in for others at short notice, sometimes mid-way during the performance. It's often said that a company is only as good as the weakest member of its corps and that's true and it's why in a good company the dancers will try to support that weakest member, not laugh at his/her mistakes and leave him/her high and dry. 

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I remember someone on this Forum ,a long time ago mentioning a very,very talented girl at White Lodge who later went on to Royal Upper School who bullied and was forever nasty to this this particular poster and made her time at WL an unhappy one.She is now in the Royal Ballet.The poster didn`t name any names but said this individual was,and still is to this day,extremely talented. I`m sorry,but no matter how talented an individual,if a person has been found to be bullying someone at Vocational School I don`t think that person deserves to keep their place . 

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What is really upsetting is when different standards are applied to behaviour and one student gets punished whilst the exceptionally talented one gets let off. What's even more upsetting is if an exceptionally talented student iachieves success in lead roles and company contracts when they are really not very nice people - we all like to think that nasty people don't succeed in life and get their just desserts, but in the real world, they do succeed.

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BankruptMum, you make some very valid points. I feel that my dd plays down her dancing successes and does not want to stand out in class to ensure her social acceptability. Living with a group and caring hugely about being part of the scene, is in my opinion, detrimental to her desire to succeed. I would love to find a way to get over this.

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But do these people get very far once they are in a company? Surely their bad attitude becomes apparent quite quickly and, unless they are head and shoulders above the rest, this will affect their progression. Surprisingly, some people seem to be bullies at school but turn into perfectly nice people later on; there's something about the school environment which brings out or develops a nasty side in some people which seems to disappear once they leave school. I'm afraid that in all walks of life there are some people who are able to get away with bad behaviour and the reasons that they are able to do so are various, but are usually that they are valuable to the organisation as they bring in a lot of business or, conversely, that they are inadequate in their own jobs and are managed by weak managers who do not wish to take them on.

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Bad behaviour is not always visible to teachers or other adults who make casting decisions etc. A girl in my DDs year looks like butter wouldn't melt and is loved by teachers and given lots of special opportunities but amongst her peer group is very psychologically manipulative and controlling in ways that it would be difficult to describe or provide evidence of to an adult.

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I would second Ribbons post above.  As a teacher, I would say at times it can be very difficult to identify unacceptable behaviour.  The line between normal good-natured teasing and spiteful digs can be a very fine one.  Really manipulative children (and adults) are very good at concealing what they are doing.  The passive aggressive behaviour from an apparently "nice" girl can be some of the worst to deal with.  These are often very needy people, and it is no good complaining to the parents because they are often at the root of the aggressors behaviour.  There is a well known saying amongst dog lovers, that there are no bad dogs, just bad owners.  I sometimes think the same applies to children.  If their behaviour to others is bad, where have they learnt it?

 

Also, although it would be great to think that good behaviour gets its due reward, if you look at the biographies of very successful people in any field, but particularly the Arts, you will find they are not always very nice people!

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Yes, I agree that some unpleasant children are incredibly socially skilled and can put on a very good act in front of adults. They are social chameleons and can adjust their public persona to suit the occasion. I think that it's well established that a substantial proportion of people who make it to the top of organisations are psychopaths (in the psychological sense); psychopaths generally have a lot of charm and charisma but they are ruthless and because they lack empathy feel no guilt about how their actions hurt other people.

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I fully agree with what Ribbons said as I have had personal experience in work. One of my colleagues was making my working life unbearable in very subtle ways. In the end, I was the one who snapped and looked bad. Everyone saw her crying at her desk but noone saw my hysterical sobs in the Ladies.

 

Sadly this type of behaviour occurs in all walks of life.

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