The late Sir Kenneth Robinson was a renowned Professor of Education and a leader of educational reforms internationally. In a public speech he delivered in 2018, he famously claimed that dance ‘should have the same status in schools as math’. What exactly did he mean by this?
Beyond the literal meaning, Robinson was pointing to the immense importance of artistic and physical learning activities in school life. An indispensable part of students’ whole-person development, these are sometimes, unfortunately, neglected in the face of academic competition and exam stress.
Dance, like so many other arts and sports, is proven by empirical research to promote health. It also increases confidence and self-esteem, in many cases leading to complete changes in learning attitude and behaviour. As the students’ mental as well as physical conditions improve, the benefits spill over into other subjects, leading to better performance across the board.
Creative activities of this type also bring social benefits. They are a means of communication beyond words, helping build closer relationships of trust especially between those from different backgrounds. In a survey, 95% of teachers reported that collaboration among their students increased as a result of dancing together.
Boarding school students spend their after-school hours and weekends on campus. There are therefore more responsibilities on the part of schools to look after their daily routines outside the classrooms. A meaningful, well-managed programme of extracurricular activities goes a long way towards high levels of student wellbeing.