Page 19                                                           Spring  1985

Joggler's Jottings

Joggler's Jottings

by Bill Giduz, publisher

Davidson, North Carolina


The winter quarter's students in Phys Ed 053 faced their final exam. All 16 of them stood before their peers and the ol' Joggler to show what they had learned in 10 weekly juggling classes. Because they all met attendance requirements (7 presences) and participated in the exam, no one failed. Davidson maintains a phys. ed. requirement for graduation, although there is no phys ed major and it is not treated as an academic program.


But the exam scores posted by my office the morning after included quite a few I wouldn't want on my report card!


Here's how the exam was conducted:

The course syllabus included tricks at three skill levels. You worked on those throughout the term, then stood the final exam at whatever level you chose.

There was not much rhyme or reason in how the levels were constructed. This was only a stab at a start of a system, and was geared for non-jugglers rather than juggling enthusiasts. Here were the requirements:


Level 1: 2 b. one hand;  3 b. cascade, over the top, off the knee, neck put; 3 ring cascade;  3 scarf cascade.


Level II: All level I plus: 3 b. beginning, under the leg, flash, head put, behind the back, claw;  3 club cascade.


Level III: All level II plus: 3 b. claw, floor bounce, air put, cross-hand cascade, 2-and-1 run;  3 c. doubles, behind the back, over the top, chops; 4 balls.

I had two ideas in mind: 1) to see if it's feasible to judge jugglers performing a set of mandatory tricks, and 2) to give the students definite physical goals to work toward in the class, rather than just setting them free to learn (or not learn) whatever they could.


The requirements were considerably more lax the first term three years ago ­simply show up 7 nights. Juggling has become an increasingly demanding part of the D.C. phys. ed. curriculum, but that's not hurt its popularity. The course ceiling of 15 (now 20) has been met every term. As a matter of fact, it's one of few that's consistently full.


The final few minutes of each class period are set aside for solo demonstrations of progress. For about a half-dozen students, it was always a struggle to hold a cascade together in public, while others showed consistent progress.

The rule was to show a trick cleanly two or three times and move on. I wanted students to show only well-practiced tricks and to avoid the beginners peculiar insistence on performing a trick over and over until they drop.


The exam scoring was 0-10, with myself as judge and jury. About half the scores ranged from 2-4. Several students only tried two or three tricks, and mostly muffed those. But the others supported my contention that juggling can be framed as a competitive event. Levels of competence were apparent by having students do the same set of tricks.


An "extra credit" freestyle routine helped differentiate ability even more. One thing I'll do differently next time is to explore props and tricks beyond the compulsories to prepare for that part of the exam.


For the most part, students endured the class without complaint. There was one fellow, though, who had a hard time throughout the term. Leaving the exam after scoring a 2 on the compulsory Level I and skipping the freestyle, he handed me back the tennis balls he bought earlier. "Thanks, but I won't be needing these any more!" he said.


There are many approaches to juggling instruction, but I like this one for this academic setting. It gives good students positive feedback in the form of a final score and challenges everyone to improve. I can't say it proves competitive juggling could work, but I believe it's possible. The big question is whether anyone wants it!


How about other juggling teachers? Let's exchange syllabuses and see what develops. Send yours to Juggler's World.


Whatever becomes of the idea of compulsory exercises in juggling competitions, it will always be easier to judge a joggling race. The joggler who crosses the finish line first wins - period. For its inherent simplicity then, joggling might be attrac­tive to academic athletes.


For the moment, the only place to find yourself good joggling races is within the bosom of the IJA. In looking toward this summer's 100 meter dash, mile run and 3-kilometer events, I'm trying to stir up a little local interest. Atlanta is host of the July 4 Peachtree Road Race and home to a large population of runners.


So far, so good. The program chairman of the Chattahoochee Road Runners said they would love to have a joggling seminar at a June meeting. "And," he added, "why don't you do something for the National Road Runners Convention here in May as well?" It will be a gathering of 300-400 running club administrators from all over the country. What self-respecting promoter could turn down that offer?


Since the audience is already committed to the most difficult part of the endeavor - running, I figure at least a few will turn joggler upon discovery of how easy it is to juggle.


So, jogglers should consider this as prudent warning: there might be some stiff competition from the natives!

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