Learn­ing from Dr Dance

Norfolk - - FROM THE HEADMASTER’S OFFICE - Fred de Falbe, Bee­ston Hall School

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!

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