11 May Dance + Other Arts = School Smarts
While the arts have been a fundamental part of the learning process in many K-12 schools for decades, their role in the learning process seems to be under endless attack, especially with funding in many public school systems becoming more and more stretched. If you want proof of the powerful and positive impact of the arts – and specifically dance – on children inside and outside the classroom, see the summary of the National Dance Education Organization’s thorough study on the topic (or just ask your nearest ISB student!).
Closer to home, ISB’s Director of Outreach and Student Services Coleen Szulc has seen first-hand as a teacher how dance can positively impact the learning environment as part of ISB’s Indy Ballet Classrooms outreach program held in select Indianapolis Public Schools. Below is an excerpt from Coleen’s recent turn as a guest writer on WFYI’s American Graduate blog, during which she shares how studying dance and other arts do wonders for the mind, body and soul inside and outside the classroom (click here for the full post):
In today’s technological world, society has grown accustomed to immediate gratification, the world’s answers being a mere “Google search” away. Meanwhile, children in school are struggling because they cannot focus, and they are not forced to focus. As a result, work ethic is slipping away, and children understand less and less the benefits of going through obstacles to achieve a goal. This is one reason why children give up quickly in school instead of facing their struggles. Education must instill in them that practicing and overcoming defeat is how true success is earned. This kind of learning does not always require sitting at a desk in a traditional classroom, but can be achieved by other, hands-on means.
Martha Graham, a pioneer of modern dance in America, strikes a chord with the issue of school dropouts and education in her statement above. It is now more difficult to teach children how to practice and learn with perseverance, and many are being deprived of lessons in art that can inspire and spark dreams. Arts education is becoming increasingly absent; children are missing out on learning how to be creative, appreciating different art forms, and seeing how “practice makes perfect” really rings true. Through dance classes, students can be given a goal to work towards. When they learn the importance of practicing a skill over and over again, they can truly understand the joy and pride that comes with succeeding as a result of hard work.
Dance is a natural means of expression and is a complete and structured art form that encompasses subjects that are learned in a traditional classroom. Language arts are represented in the steps and terminology, and foreign language is introduced since ballet terms are French. The history of dance is learned throughout dance training, and the science of physics is taught in order to achieve correct alignment and execution. Students learn how to count music and to keep their movements in sync with it, requiring the use of mathematics. Through the movement of their bodies and by learning technique and skills, students simultaneously receive a well-rounded education and are able to repeatedly practice skills that are needed to succeed in a traditional classroom, all while creatively expressing themselves.
Click here for the full blog post from Coleen, including details on ISB’s Indy Ballet Classrooms initiative in action … and click here for more on the mission behind WFYI’s American Graduate series.