Wednesday, September 25, 2013

New Article | Making Math and Making Dance: A Closer Look at Integration

An excerpt from my newly published article for the Teaching Artist Journal:
"In the eight years since I first had the germ of an idea about the possibility of connecting percussive dance and math at the elementary level I have had more questions than answers about the nature of arts integration, specifically in relation to mathematics...
"After some years of sitting on this question, and a few more of actively searching for answers, I think I have finally come to an understanding about what is going on in Math in Your Feet. I am much clearer on how the math and the dance  interact beyond specific math topics and vocabulary.  These are answers about the really interesting, important connections between percussive choreography and mathematical thinking, moving well beyond memorization and procedure and into the real processes of doing math.  They are also answers about the choices I made as I brought my art form and the strange, beautiful world of mathematics together for young learners."
Ostensibly, the audience for this piece includes arts educators and teaching artists but I humbly submit that anyone interested in interdisciplinary teaching or learning, especially in concert with mathematics, may be able to take something of value from this piece. And, the same goes for math educators interested in how to harness what Seymour Papert called 'body knowledge' (in his seminal book Mindstorms) in a way that maintains an authentic learning experience in both math and dance.

You can read the entire article here.  This piece is the result of over two years of investigation, thinking, learning, exploring and question asking. I am curious to hear your thoughts, observations and, hopefully what new questions you might have.  Any feedback you wish to share will be extremely helpful as I begin to conceptualize and outline a much bigger writing project that will considerably expand on the ideas in this new article.


  1. Each article of yours I read helps me understand your program a little bit better. Maybe some day I'll get a chance (like Christopher did) to participate.

  2. You write that sometimes children's work is more conceptually interesting than that of adults. Is this one of the big reasons for you to work with kids? What are some other personal benefits you see as a leader of kid groups?

  3. I've been thinking about your questions, Maria. I think one of the reasons I work with kids is that I've always been fascinated with how people come to know what they know. I've been an observer of my own learning from a very young age, and I get so much enjoyment from watching that process. Also, I love leading groups of kids in learning dance because it's a chance to 'speak my own language' in the context of percussive dance making. It's hard to translate the energy and meaning in that kind of space into words but, in general, for the hour we're there together we are communicating on a whole other level. This new language is a mixture of kid energy, kid-friendly movements (Jump Patterns are really similar to age-old playground activity), the process of making and revising a dance idea, and the aesthetic of percussive dance. Sometimes, I can even get to a similar place in teacher workshops as well.

    Even when I don't know the content as well, I still love engaging kids in thinking about things. I've been volunteering in my daughter's 3rd/4th grade class during math time, and am always energized for hours after I leave. Specifically, I'm thinking about things I want to do next with them, or I'm reflecting on how, as I did the same activity with different groups, my framing for the activity changed over time. I am also thinking about individual students and how I might want to support them in the future.

    I hope this answers your questions -- I'm going to keep thinking about it.


Thanks for reading. I would love to hear your thoughts and comments!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...