Learning from Dr Dance
In his legendary TED Talk a decade ago (it has exceeded 16.5 million views), Sir Ken Robinson said that dance is as important as mathematics. Think about the phrase ‘dance routine’; the first word is all about being creative and the second is about following rules – in opposition you may think, yet they work together, vitally.
Schools and children need rules and routines, but they also need the comfort and capacity to be flexible and to change – sometimes at quite short notice. This is being creative with the time and the environment you have – the two greatest treasures we have.
It is possible because the teaching body works together closely and shares a common purpose (nurturing the third treasure), which makes it a very happy work place.
I am often showing parents around our school; twice already this term I have brought a family into the classroom only to find that the class is about to venture outside, to count metre-squares of grass or investigate woodland habitats. This is at the centre of the well-established mission of our school: the development of the whole person - intellectual, physical, moral, social, musical, visual, spiritual and emotional. There are many ways to carry this out and it depends, of course, on the very broadest curriculum, that we have in place, and the capacity to be flexible and embrace change.
But, besides the curriculum planning and associated activities, one feature of children learning well is them learning from each other.
With over 20 years of teaching experience, in both maintained sector and independent schools, I have encountered a very wide selection of children. This selection is getting ever wider, I am delighted to say, and the ways in which they learn grow more varied, too, as well as the ways that they reach their strengths.
For a long time, I am ashamed to say that, despite being a theology graduate, I did tend to favour a focus on maths and science, on the basis that ‘this was the future’. An acquaintance’s story encouraged me to rethink this some time ago.
He had left school without qualifications but a love of, and commitment to, dance. The story which led him from dance school to heading up a neuroscience research laboratory is a fascinating one and, though not usual, illustrates perfectly the importance of recognising and developing a child’s passion, as well as the skills he/she needs.
The said acquaintance is very soon coming to give a dance class that I am sure we will never forget. This is where Beeston meets the vision of Ken Robinson – I will tell you how it went in the next instalment!