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When the student is ready the teacher appears.

When the student is truly ready the teacher disappears.

~Lao Tzu

About the Spectrum

What is the Spectrum of Teaching Styles?

Developed by Muska Mosston and Sara Ashworth, it is a non-versus paradigm for teaching which explains a variety of teaching- learning possibilities, and is rich for dance pedagogy.  Its non-versus nature means that no single teaching strategy or method is more important or better than any other.

The Spectrum brings an integrated, comprehensive approach to teaching that can be used for any subject including theory or lecture classes as well as technique or activity classes; it can be utilized for all ages and in all dance classes including ballet, modern, jazz, tap, ballroom, international folk or character dance, aerobics, improvisation, composition, creative dance, notation, and history classes.

The structure of the Spectrum is based on the following 3 key premises:

  1. Teaching is governed by decision-making. Every deliberate act of teaching is governed by a previously and consciously made decision.

  2. It is possible for both the teacher and the learner to make decisions, and these decisions shift from teacher to learner throughout the Spectrum.

  3. Teachers and learners can demonstrate mobility among a variety of teaching Styles. The Spectrum delineates the range of decision-making, from the teacher making decisions about content, choices for learning and providing feedback, to the learners making decisions and choices for learning and providing their own feedback.

Shifting responsibility to make decisions does not mean that the students determine the direction of class or that “anything goes” in the classroom, but that students gradually learn how to make certain decisions. Learning to make decisions enables students to become active learners, able to pull the maximum amount of information from the lesson themselves.


The teacher determines which choices are appropriate to be shifted to students. At first, the decisions shifted to the student are minor, such as what direction to face when practicing individually, or the order for practice of assigned tasks. The student gradually gains the knowledge necessary to make more decisions, such as determining an achievable level of complexity in a dance phrase, or which of several self-generated phrases or movements would be an appropriate conclusion to a study, or how to set criteria for an independent project. The Spectrum covers the range of decision-making in the teaching-learning relationship.


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