Dancing into the classroom Te kanikaniki roto i te ruma: The student and teacher experiences of somatic practices in a New Zealand intermediate school
Citation:Molloy, F. (2009). Dancing into the classroom Te kanikaniki roto i te ruma: The student and teacher experiences of somatic practices in a New Zealand intermediate school. Unpublished thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the degree of Master of Education, Unitec Institute of Technology, New Zealand.
Permanent link to Research Bank record:http://hdl.handle.net/10652/1298
The primary purpose of this study is to explore the extent to which somatics are being taught in a New Zealand mainstream school. Integrated awareness of self and the environment are somatic tools used in tertiary education for dance students to learn about creative processes of choreography and performance and for injury prevention and management. Somatic practices fit well with the current New Zealand arts curriculum dance strand achievement objectives. This qualitative exploratory case study explores the responses of thirty late-primary students and their teacher to the experience of somatic awareness activities. I have drawn a theoretical basis from three disciplines: somatics, arts education priorities and educational theory. Merriam and Caffarella’s (1999) postmodern approach accommodates the basis for the study’s design, which is at once subjective and propositional. To this end, the data collection phases posit research participants as interpreters or performers in the construction of a somatic experience at school (Berger & Luckmann, 1991). Multiple data collection methods were used: a student questionnaire, observation of a dance rehearsal and implementation of a somatic session that was concurrently videotaped and journalled by the students. A subsequent focus group of seven self-selected students and teacher interview completed the data collection process. Throughout the data collection phases my reflections were recorded in a somatic journal. By incorporating somatics and dance performance knowledge across the theoretical framework and data collection methods, similarities between awareness practices and students adapting to learning in a mainstream education setting emerge. I argue that dance education may not progress learning conditions for students through an “all children can participate” emphasis (Hong, 2000) and that dance performance as an outcome may miss the links between learning efficacy and the experiential applications of dance. The students and teacher responded positively to the somatics activities, reporting main themes that connect postural awareness as a useful learning capabilities tool. The proposed somatics applications could be incorporated within the New Zealand curriculum framework alongside dance. Further research will involve studying different schools with less dance integration, as well as repeating the study over several years at the same school.