We are thrilled that we have been supported through a Paul Hamlyn Foundation 'Explore and Test' grant to develop the work we have been doing with schools, museums and heritage sites since 2013, contributing to the delivery of the primary school history curriculum using dance.
From September 2016 we will be working with St Mary's C of E Primary School in Byfleet and Boxgrove Primary School in Guildford to investigate the following questions:
1. Can dance be used to teach history in a different way?
We want to know more about how we can nurture a learning environment drawing on the unique elements of a dance workshop e.g. being physical, working outside of the classroom and out from behind a desk (and, for this particular project, off-site at a heritage venue as well) and in a non-verbal way, that can promote greater engagement with the subject matter. Are there particular ways of approaching historical source material through dance with which the children engage more readily? How does this impact on the development of other skills such as communication, teamwork, problem-solving and the capacity to reflect on what they are doing?
To what extent does working in this way change participants' perceptions of history and of dance?
2. How does teaching history through dance impact upon the children's self-confidence?
We want to track the ways in which we can: involve children in shaping their learning so they feel empowered; support constructive reflection on their own and their peers' engagement with the project (challenging any preconceptions); develop skills they need to embody their response to creative tasks in the way they would like to; help them develop physical skill and therefore self-confidence in their own bodies
3. How can we support teachers to develop their skills in order to be able to continue this work in the future?
Working with teachers to identify what extra support they need and how this could be delivered.
You can now read an update on this project on the company blog here (November 2016).