A question of fun: Adolescent engagement in dance education

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Susan W. Stinson, Professor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/

Abstract: Ever since the publication of A Nation at Risk (National Commission on Excellence in Education, 1983), educational literature and the popular press have been filled with concern over low achievement levels among students in this country. One of the more recent responses has been the development of rigorous national standards, including standards in all the arts (National Standards for Arts Education, 1994). At the same time, there is recognition that far too many students are not motivated to meet even existing standards. The September 1995 issue of Educational Leadership, a publication whose themes reflect issues of current significance to pub-lic school administrators, was devoted to strengthening student engagement. Editor Ron Brandt opened the issue with a description that is familiar to almost anyone who walks into a typical high school class in any community: Some [students] see no connection whatever between their priorities and what teachers expect of them, so they refuse lessons and even refuse to try. Others realize they must play the game, but go through the motions with minimal attachment to what they are supposedly learning. Teachers, thwarted by resistance or passivity, complain that students are unmotivated, and either search valiantly for novel approaches or resign themselves to routines they no longer expect to be productive. (1995, 7) Certainly this dismal picture does not apply to young children, who arrive so eager to learn in kindergarten. It is reasonable to ask what happens to children, especially as they move through adolescence, to leave so many so unmotivated and disengaged. Howard Gardner's response to educational reform in the 1980s speaks to the importance of engagement: Almost everybody realizes that the American schools have been disappointing in recent years. But I think most of the reactions to this concern will not be very productive in the long term. Getting higher scores on standardized tests is not the real need....What we need in America is for students to get more deeply interested in things, more involved in them, more engaged in wanting to know; to have projects they can get excited about and work on over longer periods of time; to be stimulated; to find things out on their own. (In Brandt 1987/88, 33)

Additional Information

Dance Research Journal, 29 (2), 49-69
Language: English
Date: 1997
Dance education, Adolescent engagement, Motivation

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