30 September, 2013

On Tutorials: A Discussion.

I was minding my own business scrolling through facebook this morning when this post popped up and caught my eye. In fact, not going to lie, I was mildly offended. The debates that followed on the original post, and shares, ranged from supporting tutorials to downright condemning them. There are positives and negatives to tutorials, much like everything in life, but I personally do not find tutorials to be damaging or dangerous. It was quite surprising seeing some of the comments and the people who were behind them - people I personally would have thought would support tutorials.

Firstly I would like to approach the argument presented in the original status - that somehow tutorials undermine professional instructors and take business away from them; which will somehow result in no need for instructors. Anyone else laugh a bit at that? Sorry but seriously. This reeks of a lack of understanding about the internet and the role is plays in the business world today.

Point 1: You can find tutorials for just about anything online, and have been able to since day one, but we don't see whole professions going out of business because of it. Yoga videos are widely available, short tutorials or whole classes, and yet yoga classes are still popular and busy. The reasons for this? A tutorial cannot provide you with what a class can; the expertise of an instructor, the instructor themselves, the social aspect of a class, the safety of a spotter and crash mats and a structure in which to learn things. There will always be people who value this. Personally I attend classes and workshops with people I adore, people who inspire me, and they can give me so much more than just a breakdown of a move.

Point 2: Many people use tutorials alongside classes. I find the most helpful tutorials are dance, stretching or strength training based. Depending on the type of class you attend you may miss out on some of these elements. Also personally I got to a point as a pole dancer where I felt I had an understanding of what my body could achieve and what was safe to try by myself and what needed me to take a trip to the studio and ask for help. I know my body better than anyone and I find it quite patronising that some of the instructors commenting in this debate decide that only they know what is best for an individual learning pole. Yes, through your training and experience you may have a better idea but the fact is you are not that person. On top of that I know plenty of instructors who are appalling and really shouldn't be teaching others but they are. In other cases I have been told how to do something by an instructor and found that it simply does not work for me - though it may work for themselves and other students. We are all different, students and instructors. For some people self teaching just works best.

Point 3: For some of the people who make these tutorials they are a part of their bigger business model. They may offer free tutorials but charge for other services. Just because these individuals have a business model that is different from yours does not make it wrong. If you like to stick to the traditional then go for it! When the post popped up some of my first thoughts were- uh oh what would Dirdy Birdy and Marlo Fisken think of this? Luckily I was not left to wonder as Dirdy Birdy/Anh Le shared her opinion.

Point 4: As Dirdy Birdy so helpfully points out - some people are unable to attend a studio nearby. Should we just tell them they aren't allowed to learn to pole dance? Self teaching is NOT advised. In my post 'So you want to take a pole dancing/fitness class? The Ultimate Guide' I quite specifically warn people off that route where possible but we cannot police what other people chose to do, people will always do stupid shit, and actually self teaching has had some great results. Jess Leanne Norris is an example I use often as she self taught from a young age, Kiki from Kiki's Pole Blog is another. Providing these people with the correct structure and information they need to safely self teach should be a priority. Granted websites such as Studio Veena and Pole and Aerial exist for that exact reason and are subscription services but not everyone can afford to do this either.

However, we have to acknowledge some of the negatives. Pole dancing is dangerous and should be taken seriously. Where tutorials are widely available there is always the risk that someone will hurt themselves trying something they probably shouldn't - however they could just as easily do this just from watching videos of competitions. On top of that video makers may leave themselves open to legal action if they do not have a disclaimer that states the dangerous nature of the activity.

And lastly....Robyn Rooke makes a very good point:

Regardless I don't think tutorials are the enemy; peoples attitudes are. Those of us who make and watch tutorials love them for a reason - they are damn helpful and allow us to take some control over our own learning - and many of us are always pouring our hard earned cash in to classes, workshops, competitions and merchandise. Is it asking so much to want to enjoy the odd free tutorial that people so happily provide?