Monday, July 12, 2010

More Dancing!

Sorry about the lack of activity here -- we've been gone for a week of family dance camp. Totally, fabulously, fun. Have I mentioned that my New Year's resolution this year was "More Dancing!"? Maybe yes. Anyway, although it's no doubt a tangent from whole behavior science theme, I would like to point out once again that "More Dancing!" is a highly worthwhile motto. Dancing, of course, is good for you physically, since any form of dance pretty much provides aerobic exercise, and since it's fun, you do it for longer than something tedious, like running on a treadmill. Most kinds of dancing provide mental exercise as well. Learning steps involves spacial awareness, memory and the ability to connect intellectual and physical learning. It also provides the opportunity to enter a kind of meditative focus in which everything but the dance disappears. Better still, most forms of dance are social, so you get to have fun and connect with other people at the same time you exercise your body and mind. As blueberries are the perfect food (exceptionally healthful and delicious), dance is the perfect activity. Although I could make a good case for dark chocolate and choral singing.

The best part of dance camp is the chance to hang out with people who like to dance and make music. I find it a very sad thing that most of Western, or at least American, society seems to think of music and dancing as something to be consumed, not something that we produce. Now, I'm all in favor of enjoying the gifts of those more talented than I, and my family is pretty crazed about the dance competition show So You Think You Can Dance, but it's kind of sad to me that most people don't seem to think of music and dance as things that you do. Yourself. With other people.

So here's my behavior science question of the day: Given that music and dancing are inherently reinforcing, why doesn't everyone make music and dance? Perhaps it's because you have to get past the threshold of being "bad" at it before you have a really good time. Certainly playing an instrument is a lot more fun after you've reached a certain level of proficiency. Even comparatively simple kinds of dance take a bit of practice to get the basics to a point where things flow. So what gets people to put in the effort to get to the fun part? Can we sustain effort when it takes a long time to get to the payoff? (Most people, especially children, don't do well at this.) Or do we manage to take joy from small successes, even if it's one clear note or a couple of times that we turn the right direction?

What have you taken joy in learning, and how and why did you choose to learn it?

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Taz Talks -- Wii, Wii, Wii All the Way Home

Hey Dudes and Dudettes,

Did you maybe read the Seeker Circuit post Mama wrote a whiles back about how she got all into online shopping, but came to her senses before buying anything? And how she really didn't need to watch the Netflix on the TV after all? Well, guess who came home from the Big Boxes of Goodies store with boxes and wrappings and wires and stuff, and now there is a Wii box and a balance board and expensive pointer thingies.

I would be kinda ticked that the people are spending our meat money on plastic stuff that you can't even chew on, but Mama says it is all about More Funner, which is my personal motto. As in stuff should be More Funner. And apparently after your butt gets fat sitting around watching those Netflix movies on TV, then you can get up and doing goofy moving-around games with the board and the pointers and everything, which is More Funner than regular exercising because of there's a dot that shows you if you're starting to fall over, and cartoons of you hula hooping and ski jumping and everything.

Now personally, Mama is always complaining about the not-fat-ness of my butt, as in "Tazzie, do you have to park your bony butt on my lap?" but I know that exercise is a good thing. Personally, I would rather go running in a park that smells good rather than having a cartoon trainer tell me that I'm doing a good job, but hey, that's just me. The machine does a good job of giving information about what you're doing wrong or right, which is always helpful. Cause it's easier to have fun learning a new trick if the clicker right away says "yes, that's it!" and there's cookies. The Wii machine doesn't have cookies, just "Good job" and the dot that shows if you're wiggling, but it's a start. And it tells you that you have done 17 minutes and burned 43 calories, which is like, one cashew, which might be a little discouraging, but hey. Like I said, getting information back right away is very helpful for learning, so maybe there will be happy human learning, and trimming of the sitting parts.

Or maybe there will be sitting on the couch and eating cheese popcorn and watching the Netflix which has traveled from the computer to the TV, and that will be even better.

Wags and kisses,