"Our pressure is to help the students read and then they can take dance," Granados said. "It motivates the kids in wanting to come to school and doing better in their grades to be in the dance program. They can be sent back to their home school if they can't maintain grades."
While Granados is not the only educator to argue dance students must know how to write a five-paragraph essay before learning pointe, Peter London, an internationally renowned dancer and instructor at New World, disagrees.
"We never see any academic records," London said. "All we see is their dancing. We judge them solely based on their performance at that audition, their ability to hold a space. If they're not well versed in the classical vocabulary, they have to have a phenomenal magnetic ability on stage."
In a doctor's office a few years ago, before being fitted with an enormous ligament-mending knee brace, my doc asked me what I did at the U. "I teach writing," I told him. "Hey, now that's a hard job. You can teach them a lot of things—spelling, punctuation, grammar—but the question remains: can they get it all to fit into five paragraphs?"
Already stunned from the pain in my knee, my mind reeled to figure out what this guy was saying. It seemed almost a joke—why would my knee doc be saying something so dopey?—but he was dead serious.
Reading this article in the Miami Herald, though, I tend to think that the FPE (and maybe other memorable things we learn) can act as educational synecdoches standing in for "literacy," in this case, and in other cases what students learn in math, social studies, science. Other educational synecdoches could be "learning the periodic table," "learning the Pythagorean theorem," and "understanding the three branches of government."
In all of these cases, the educational synecdoche stands in for much more that goes on at the scene of learning, while in the case of the five-paragraph essay, the synecdochal gizmo casts the learning in its entirety in a way that could be seen as reductive. Deciding to think more about this, I click "publish post."