I’m writing a major term paper for a grad class in educational technology. I’ve picked the topic based on something close to home – to explore the roles both dance and technology can play for those learners “who have to move to think” (Robinson, 2006).

My daughter is a dancer. I am not. She dances every day at school and most evenings at the studio. There are attempts at her school to bring dance into the academic classroom but only in the representation of learning, not the learning itself (this is not a learning-through-the-arts program, so to be expected). I am intrigued by these learners and how movement may help them learn. And I am intrigued by what role technology may play in such a learning environment.

I’m planning to develop the paper in four parts. Here is the outline and some preliminary writing. I also have a list of other sources I’ve been collecting but not included here.

I’d love your feedback – Ideas? Sources? People to contact?
Thanks for the help!

People who have to move to think: Learning with dance and technology

Part One: Who is this learner who has to move to think?
The Learner
Sir Ken Robinson described one such learner, Gillian Lynne, in his 2006 TEDTalks video (Robinson, 2006). Ms. Lynne was the original choreographer of Cats and Phantom of the Opera. He related her early life: “When she was in school she was really hopeless. The school in the ‘30s wrote to her parents and said we think Gillian has a learning disorder.” But instead her parents sent her to a dance school. Robinson went on to describe her first impressions of the school: “We walked in this room and it was full of people like me. People who couldn’t sit still. People who had to move to think.”

The Theory
Gardner (2005) believed there are several kinds of intelligences and suggested that linguistic and logical-mathematical intelligence are the two most prevalent in K-12 curriculum design. All of us have all intelligences, but each of us has a unique profile of intelligences. One of these, bodily-kinesthetic intelligence, is presumed to predominate in the profiles of athletes, dancers, craftspersons and surgeons. He described bodily-kinesthetic intelligence as “the capacity to solve problems or fashion products using your whole body, or parts of your body, like your hands or mouth”(Gardner, 2005, p. 8).

Ivry (1996) suggests that “an account of skilled performance must go beyond physiology and extend into psychology” (p. 263). Automaticity is manifest with a skilled performance making it difficult for the performer to describe how the act is done. Ivry also suggests that the “type of information guiding performance may shift with practice” (p. 286). One study showed that what began with visual feedback shifted to kinesthetic feedback.

Part Two: Programs that incorporate dance and movement into learning

Gilbert included both an historical and current review of dance programs when she discussed the challenges of who should teach, who should teach the teachers, and what should they teach about dance (Gilbert, 2005). Many school districts incorporate “learning through the arts” as either a special program or a focus in a community school. These programs may or may not include technology but are important to understand how the theory discussed in Part One is or may be applied.

Part Three: Role of educational technology

The consideration of dance and technology together has had a stormy past. Penrod (2005) reminded us of the debate that began in the 1960s about the separation of mind and body. Today some educators still focus on either technique (the body) or creativity (the mind). Penrod suggested that technology can assist in removing this duality if “dance is tied to education, with a commitment to exploration, discovery, process, collaboration, connections between ideas, and problem solving when answers are not always straight forward” (p. 7).

Part Four: Summary and recommendations for future research and practice

This section will present a summary of the key points of the paper. Then it will conclude with recommendations (expected) for future research and (hopefully) for practice.

Gardner, H. (2005). Multiple lenses on the mind. Paper presented at the ExpoGestion Conference. Retrieved October 18, 2008, from http://www.howardgardner.com/docs/multiple_lenses_0505.pdf

Gilbert, A. G. (2005). Dance education in the 21st century. Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance, 76(5), 26-35.

Ivry, R. (1996). Representational issues in motor learning: Phenomena and theory. In H. Heuer & S. W. Keele (Eds.), Handbook of perception and action (Vol. 3, pp. 263-). San Diego: Academic Press.

Penrod, J. W. (2005). Dancing with technology. Juornal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance, 76(1), 6-7,56.

Robinson, K. (2006). Do schools today kill creativity? TEDTalks, from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iG9CE55wbtY