Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Starting the Conversation: Meaningful Movement and Math Learning

I had an interesting conversation on Twitter today with Christopher Danielson about body knowledge (Papert) in relation to mathematical knowing and learning. I've Storified it now but here's what showed up in my in box later in the day -- perfect timing, as they say.

Some thoughts before you watch:

1. This is the first dance/math video I've seen that I've not been grumpy after watching it. I think I also finally understood statistics. That being said...

2. Could these concepts be illustrated effectively in some other way, meaning without the moving human bodies?

3. What, if anything, have we learned about dance in the process of watching this video?

4. What, if anything, could be learned by turning this into a dance lesson?  Would we understand anything more or differently after creating a dance based on the ideas in this choreography?

5. Would the dancing make sense without the text on the screen before and after the dancing?  Would the math in the dancing make sense without the text?

If we are serious about using movement, or a specific dance form, in our math classrooms, I think it's worth thinking and talking about these kinds of questions. I'm not sure I have good answers for all of them, and I will weigh in, but I'm curious to hear your perceptions and thoughts first!


  1. I like the dance presentation and developing complexity. Text was unnecessary. I felt constricted by the explanations. No space to find individual connections, meaning, or for other questions. Math explanation can come later in discussion after observations. There is a danger in taking a dynamic form and using it to understand selected static image concepts. A good effort towards integrating two abstract forms.

  2. I watched the "correlation" video and was underwhelmed. (I haven't tried the other videos yet.) It did seem somewhat rigid in what it was trying to communicate. Then again, I have been very familiar with the basic idea for a long time, so I am not the target audience. Perhaps someone who has a mental block against statistics would have a different reaction.

    Personally, I don't find that the dance helps elucidate the concept in a way that another example couldn't, but again perhaps other people feel differently.

  3. Thanks for your thoughts! It's very helpful to get a sense of what you see there. Let's not forget that the illustration (in this case a moving picture) is not the math itself. So, while this may be authentic modern dance, it is just an overlay to the math. Since this is not the kind of dance I practice, I wonder what a modern dancer would think about the choreography? My sense is that viewing it without knowing there was a math connection might be a really interesting experiment -- would it seem like meaningful dance then?

    I'd love to hear from other people as well!


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


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