Dancing and the arts – not important enough for PD?

We live in an information-rich age but do we communicate it well? When was the last time you attended a really snappy, efficient meeting where information was exchanged with clarity and succinctness? And everyone understood the key concepts? Or did it seem to go on forever and reduce you to a fatigued, listless state? And what is one of the chief causes of these sorts of meetings? Information overload by powerpoint!

Many powerpoints miss the mark. They fail in their purpose which should be to make clear and summarise what the speaker is saying. I get grumpy when I’m presented with slides with whole paragraphs of small text. What a headache! The ability to sum up, to capture the essence is a key communication skill. And the fewer words used the better. Or none!
Let’s get creative! John Bohannon (on TED Talks) suggests that explaining and summarising with no words might be the ideal and that dance has the ability to convey complex ideas far more efficiently than blah, blah, blah and slide show. To put his money where his mouth is he has started an annual competition called "Dance Your Ph.D." How challenging is that? Last year’s winning performance which included juggling, clowning and dance was on the topic of nanostructural architecture in aluminium alloys. Without words! Bohannon tells of scientists who now work with dancers as part of their research. He sees dance as a powerful way to brainstorm and play around with ideas, to communicate and see connections that may not be evident when trapped within pages and pages of text.
Which brings me to my point – if dance has this amazing ability as a tool for communication and expression then teachers need confidence to use it. How is this going to happen when there is virtually no professional development being offered? A recent search of one issue of the Ed Gazette professional development notices revealed the following hits: reading 34, writing 54, numeracy 22, science 23, technology 28, dance 3. That’s terrible. Where is the balance?
If we want to create a society that can successfully navigate its way through information we need to be preparing our children with a variety of ways to communicate and understand. Dance is one of them. Where’s the support?
Jeremy Bloomfield
Accent Learning