Human cultures have evolved an amazing tool for binding together groups of unrelated people. This tool creates trust among strangers, trains the body, and increases happiness. (It might even fight depression.)
It's dancing. And schools hardly use it!
Our basic plan:
Every day in our classrooms, we'll dance. When children are young, we'll capitalize on their desire to be wild — to wiggle, giggle, jump, and twirl. As they get older, we'll capitalize on their emerging desire to master precise movement. We'll engage a multitude of dancing styles from around the world.
Moving in synchrony has been shown to create trust, so we'll use dance to create bonds among students and teachers. Dancing is exercise, so we'll use dance to improve student (and teacher!) health. And dancing has been shown to increase happiness (and lower measures of depression), so a goal will be to cultivate happiness!
In addtion, dancing is deep cultural stuff: we hope that students will be able to engage with many diverse cultures (African, Asian, Polynesian, folk American…) through dance.
If you walk into our classrooms, you might see:
Once or twice a day, teachers will put on loud music, and everyone'll break into dance. That's right: it'll be like living in a Broadway musical!
You might see a video being projected that shows others engaging in the dance, to make it easier for our kids to learn the style.
Some specific questions:
- I conceived of this first for our future-Seattle-area school, which will open only with little kids. Island Academy, however, will be opening with mixed ages (grade school through early high school). If the older students balk at dancing, should we abandon it?
- Should we look to get community volunteers for this?
- I'd love to lay out a progression of types of dance that we do, but I've absolutely no expertise here. Anyone interested in talking about this?