Thought this weekend was to be devoted to Dance. Cancelled my classes and now realise it is only Sunday and we are supposed to attend on Monday-I am at work in school!!!! Also not been getting Yvonnes emails!
Barriers to participation and learning for individuals and groups usually involve multiple interacting factors, rather than just one. A holistic approach is always necessary to provide inclusion and equality.
Education Scotland (2016) identify 5 sectors where inclusion is needed:
The purpose of the RCS Dance session on 19.09.16 was to identify and discuss methods to provide inclusive dance.
We had a discussion at the start to identify where we felt we had observed inclusion in our classes and the mechanisms to support these individuals. Kerry found that less and more able students needed supported whereas my classes had a more diverse spectrum of participants ranging from boys-girls, gay boys, age gaps and disabilities (blind, physical disability, behavioural and mental issues). I feel the differences are due to the differences in the teaching contexts and that solutions in one context would apply to the other.
Within teaching want to begin a dialogue on the expectations about personal behaviour that go along with a commitment to Inclusion. Use of the appropriate language for less able students and treatment in a manner that assists rather than highlights their barrier to learning is needed.
Through our discussion, I went over conclusions I had made perhaps unconsciously. I feel inclusion requires the teacher to set a list of expectations and provide a scaffolding to get there. All learners will at some point reach a plateau or barrier to their learning and it is the role of the teacher to overcome this. I have observed that unattainable expectations confuse good people and fragment efforts for change into factions organised around hurt feelings. I believe as teachers care about Inclusion we can reduce this drain on the energy necessary to work for justice for all learners by being clear about three delusions which are common, but mostly unconscious among advocates for Inclusion. When we replace these false and destructive beliefs with simpler expectations of decency and working constructively in common, we will all be better able to live out the real meaning of Inclusion (I think) supports everyone’s individual talents and provides a forum to showcase our diverse gifts, differences and so some extent weaknesses.
The first task on Sunday was to work as a dancer who had lost the ability to use their legs!!!
We first learnt a sequence and then tried to achieve the same outcomes seated on a chair. Though Kerry filmed both sequences I will try to replicate my versions and upload them. I felt it was possible to complete and fun but did not look like the original outcome. I felt like I was getting a workout though and it reminded me on the floor exercises in Graham Contemporary style.
We did a releve, tendue and glisse sequence. This emphasised it was not possible to achieve some movements as the definition of these movements relied on them moving the foot or leg. For example: to releve on the ball of the foot. In a seated position we found we could rise onto the ball of the foot but if students lacked mobility in their legs whis would not be possible without an assistant helping them. We concluded there was not a solution to this problem but as teachers complying to a curriculum, if students clearly cannot complete a movement it would be foolish to ask them to. However, this left the unsolved problem of completing sections of the unit ie. the opposite of inclusion. We raised the questions: What do you do when it is not possible to complete the SQA required movement e.g. when the candidate has no leg movement? Are the students able to complete Higher Dance with an A if the cannot move their limbs? Apparently, the SQA are similarly working on modification to the curriculum to support this. Assessment requirements were discussed but I had hoped that criteria for marking/grading students as A, B, C etc could have been explored further.
When completing exercises on the floor, I initially thought I would not feel exercised or engaged. We replicated the teachers standing sequences on the floor. I felt I linked into classes I had taken before; floor bar (literally an exercise where ballet is completed on the floor for support) and Graham floor technique (exercises which are completed on the floor at beginner and intermediate level before standing). I had previously been discouraged by Y-Dance for including these in lessons. I felt they were essential to developing basic strength. I realised from this experience the use of the floor provides not only inclusion for all but development in technical skill, alignment and strength.
In all classes there are often a range of natural talent and learnt ability. By warming up with a task that required all learners to provide a reach, a turn a floor movement (similar to Laban’s actions), everyone interpreted the music and movement in their own way and to their own ability. The teacher asked us to ensure movements were Contemporary and then to set each to a count. This resulted in a creative sequence that looked similar but allowed individual creativity. I would like to try a similar exercise with Mr Hughes in my S1 Dance as this may provide a creative link for him to move with others and retain his self-expression. The next progression in this sequence was asking the students to move in the space and add levels. The class were working independently and at their level. I felt by asking for moments where individuals made eye contact with others would have heightened the intent of the movements. I felt moving in a direct pathway could be extended to free movement in the room. I felt this simple activity was very inclusive. I liked the statement ‘finding how you move in the space’ as this summed up the activity. We linked into similar sequences we had used including writing your name with body parts, making a human movement chain and change of state (solids,liquids and gases).
After lunch we discussed the process is more important then the outcome when learning dance and this provides an environment that supports an inclusive ethos. I asked about Lucus Hughes and if the other teachers had similar experiences. None had but suggested I ask Learning Support for what any issues were! We discussed that once teachers openly recognize difference, they can begin to look for something worth working together to do. Once we begin working together, conflicts and difficulties will teach us more about our differences. If we can face and explore them our actions and our mutual understanding will be enriched and strengthened. To carry out this work, our standard must be stronger than the friendly feelings that come from being with someone we think likes and is like us.
We were asked what we would like to cover in future classes. I thought there are never enough mechanisms to maintain behaviour. I also felt a dissection of SQA standards would also be beneficial, like an ‘Understanding Standards event’. I also felt direction in the structure of the lessons we will have to deliver would make use more confident and effective in delivery.
I felt this lesson dealt mainly with physical disabilities. It did not consider the variety of differences between individuals. What it did emphasise was that “Inclusion does not cure all ill’s, in fact it creates more issues which then need to be investigated and solved. This could be seen as the progression of a practitioner based on experience.