Why is dance so underrated in schools?

I'm a Gold Arts Award student and for my Arts Issue I've looked at why people don't support dance in schools. It is a very important topic to me and I have enjoyed looking into it further.

Why is dance so underrated in schools?

Dance has made me the person I am today and I definitely wouldn't be where I am now without it . I am lucky to have a school that values the performing arts but I know this does not seem to be in many school in the UK. Many people have different views on this subject because some people feel that dance is a subject that just gets in the way of the "more important" subjects like Math and English but other people feel that dance is the most important. Dance in my opinion, is the best sort of exercise for you mentally and physically. Personally, it has helped me overcome so many problems in my life and has really helped me in many different ways. I support dance massively but I do understand why some people may feel differently. I'm going to talk about both sides and show why both sides have very good points for the reason they either support or do not support dance.

I think dance is a good subject to have in school because it is an easy way to keep healthy. I have done some research into how dance keeps you healthy and found some information on 'BetterHealthChannel' saying that when you dance, your cardiovascular system improves, your muscle tone and strength increases and you burn calories. It also improves the condition of your heart and lungs, endurance and motor fitness, increased aerobic fitness and reduces risk of osteoporosis. Dancing can be a way to stay fit for people of all ages, shapes and sizes. Dance has improved my health in so many ways, if it wasn't for dance then I would have never known that I have Scheuermann's which is a bone and muscle disease and problems with my turn out and mobility flexibility. It is also an amazing form of exercise because dancing is a whole-body workout that is actually fun. It is good for your heart, it makes you stronger, and it will help with balance and coordination. A 30-minute dance class burns between 130 and 250 calories, about the same as jogging. Some of the health benefits of dance are that 'It's a perfect combination of physical activity, social interaction, and mental stimulation.' I feel that this is a very valid reason why dance should still be in schools, after all "One-fifth of adults worldwide will be obese by 2025," (The Guardian). Some may argue that we have PE in schools to keep us healthy so why do we need dance as well?
Dancing enhances your life in so many other ways. It increases Confidence, helps to develop Self-Expression, it's Social, a good form of relaxation, and it's fun. Dance education creates opportunities for self-expression and communication within the constraints of the medium of the body. I agree with this as dance has enhanced my life by improving my confidence. Schools are now so highly pressured that I feel students need to have subjects that are good for their wellbeing and not just focused on academic achievement. Surely if a student learns to look after themselves mentally as well as physically then they are more likely to succeed. I found evidence to back this up from a blog on stagecoach.co.uk saying 'There is clinically significant evidence that children who participate actively in the performing arts spend less time sitting in front of a computer screen playing games and therefore are at less of a risk of developing health problems.' The fact that performing arts makes children spend less time in front of a computer means that they are more open to options in the world and could make them more successful in the job industry. It also reduces health risks which means they can take part in more jobs throughout their lifetime without being drawn back by potential health issues.

I found some research from 'Standards for Dance in Early Childhood' talking about how dance is the main primal way of movement and I feel it's true, it says, 'Dance embodies one of our most primal relationships to the universe. It is pre-verbal, beginning before words can be formed. It is innate in children before they possess command over language and is evoked when thoughts or emotions are too powerful for words to contain.' In addition, they said that 'children move naturally. They move to achieve mobility, they move to express a thought or feeling, and they move because it is joyful and feels wonderful. When their movement becomes consciously structured and is performed with awareness for its own sake, it becomes dance.' I agree massively with this a feel it shows how well dance is and how good it is for the younger generation.

Dance also helps students to develop a range of skills that will help them for the rest of their lives and not just while they are in education. These skills will help them to gain employment. Dance education aids the development of kinaesthetic intelligence, whether representational, thematic, or abstract. It teaches the values and skills of creativity, risk taking, making judgments in the absence of rules, and higher-order thinking skills. Dance helps to develop problem solving skills by providing an opportunity for students to recognize that there are multiple solutions to problems. It also fosters an individual's ability to better interpret interpersonal nonverbal communication. Dance goes beyond verbal language in engaging dancers and promoting the development of multisensory beings. It provides options to destructive alternatives in a world that is unpredictable and unsafe for children, benefiting our communities and economy. Perhaps one of the most important arguments is that dance enhances an individual's lifelong quality of life. My research provided this vast and incredibly valid list of reasons to include it in our schools.

So why then do some people feel that dance is not a good subject to have in school? A secondary school dance teacher was asked this questioned and responded with this, 'Honestly, I don't believe that there are any disadvantages to having dance in the curriculum. I think it is an integral part of teaching the whole child. Unfortunately, not everybody feels the same way, which is shown by how many schools have cut art programs from their curriculum'. Many people feel that money should be spent on "reading, writing, and arithmetic." Those are fairly cheap subjects to budget for. Additionally, schools right now are making big pushes toward STEM. Science, technology, engineering, and math. Given the choice between paying for art or paying for STEM, schools are choosing STEM, because that is the big push in education right now. Another possible disadvantage to running an art program is that art classes are generally not required courses. That means class sizes are likely smaller. That's great for an advantageous student/teacher ratio. Unfortunately, budget wise, it looks like a teacher is being paid equal amounts of money to teach fewer students.' The dance teacher mentions about cost of equipment and people feel that is should be spent on more academic subject because if schools had to choose either arts or more academic subjects they would choose the academic subjects because that's where they feel the push is in education and where they would benefits most with putting their money into. In a way I can see where the schools are coming from because that is where most students would be and they could benefit so much from putting money into all these different subjects, but it also shows that the school really don't know how important dance is for young people and how it can really connect and help with loads of other subjects as well.

So in answer to the question, why is dance so underrated in schools?' I can only conclude that it is down to money and the fact that people don't fully understand the subject . Overall people have different views on this topic but I still feel that dance is the best thing for the younger generation and feel that it is not only beneficial for your body physically but for you mentally too, some of the arguments I have seen I can agree with but because of these it has opened my mind up so much more to peoples different opinions and feel that it has given me a better understand of the whole topic itself.

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Donny Ferris

Donny Ferris

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  • Victoria Williams

    On 4 July 2017, 14:20 Victoria Williams commented:

    I loved reading your blog Donny! You've done lots of research to back up your points and have given a variety of valid arguments. I agree with you entirely; although more academic subjects are important, dance and other art subjects are equally important!

  • Lucy Beacon

    On 4 July 2017, 14:39 Lucy Beacon commented:

    Great blog Donny! I clearly understood all the points that you made and I can clearly see you have done your research to back up the different sides of the story. I wish people really did understand what dance can do for you especially at school.

  • Luke Taylor

    On 6 July 2017, 10:19 Luke Taylor Contributor commented:

    It's ridiculous how schools are valuing their own interests over their own pupils' interests. Why is it necessary to shut out one subject all because someone views it as 'irrelevant'?

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