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Dance and education make a successful team!

by Judy Patterson Wright, PhD

Drawing upon her book, Partnering Dance and Education, and her recent article, "A Nonverbal Language for Imagining and Learning: Dance Education in K-12 Curriculum," published by Educational Researcher, 37(8):491-506, 2008, Judith Lynne Hanna, PhD, senior research scholar, department of dance, affiliate, department of anthropology, University of Maryland, was an invited speaker at the recent Learning and the Brain Conference in Washington, DC. The conference theme was The Creative Brain: Using Brain Research on Creativity and the Arts to Improve Learning. Dr. Hanna’s presentation was held on May 9, 2009. An abstract of her presentation follows:

As verbal language is a tool of thinking and acquiring knowledge, so, too, dance is a language to communicate thoughts and feelings. Moreover, dance is multisensory which facilitates learning and enhances memory. Dance uses multiple "intelligences," and given that humans learn differently, dance plays a unique role in cognition. Various brain imaging techniques used in the cognitive, linguistic, and neuro sciences show that the cognitive, kinetic, and emotional behavior of dance positively affects the brain as it sparks neural connections and that dance draws upon different parts for making and imitating dance. Dance education K-12 is offered as a discipline unto itself and also integrated with other subjects (e.g., language arts, social studies, math, and other arts). Dance can promote creativity and problem-solving and develop skills and knowledge transferable to other subjects. Resources are available for the dancer and non-dancer alike to perform a successful dance-education duet.

Co-sponsors of this innovative conference included the following: School of Education, The Johns Hopkins University, Mind, Brain & Education Program, Harvard Graduate School of Education, Comer School Development Program, Yale University School of Medicine, The Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives, The Dana Foundation, The Neuroscience Research Institute, University of California, Santa Barbara, National Association of Secondary School Principals, Dept. of Speech, Language & Hearing Sciences, Sargent College, Boston University, and School of Education, Boston University.


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