Challenging the Rules of Engagement: Critical Pedagogy, Dance Education and the Argument for Political Literacy
As an inclusive dance teacher “doing Outreach” in inner-London schools, I started questioning the pedagogic model I use. I become increasingly aware of the weaknesses of the distinctive form of symbolic communication that I aim to transmit to my students. I use principles identified as progressive, liberal and inclusive aiming at positioning participating subjects equally and uniformly. But in reality the students are categorised differentially - by the society and culture - based on concrete criteria of race, gender, class and ability.
In this paper I challenge the way I “read” their differential embodiment of social roles. I investigate the ways students and teachers make sense of unequal roles in dance practice. I offer examples from fieldwork on how social reality is treated when it erupts in our classrooms and studios. I ask: Is it ever possible to compensate for inequality through dance? When the communicative context shifts from a controlled inclusive workshop to a moment of crisis and resistance, are we all encouraged to problem-solve together? What can be our critical tools?
Keywords: Dance Education, Critical Pedagogy, Critical Ethnography, Sociology of Education
PhD student, Department of Dance Studies, University of Surrey