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Dance investment in teacher education

Published: 22 October 2019

Although research shows that dance strengthens children's communication, empathy and self-esteem, it is often not a prioritized learning process in schools and educational institutions. With this background, parts of the teacher training courses at Luleå University of Technology now choose to invest in dance as an educational tool.

– In the dance, children can express what can not be said with words while getting to know themselves and their peers. It is a form of expression that develops children's empathy for their fellow human beings, says Cecilia Björklund-Dahlgren, professor of dance education at Luleå University of Technology, and points out that dance as a form of expression is a great way to address complicated issues at an early age.

– The dance allows teachers to raise questions about gender, values and consent culture in a natural and playful way. An equally important work in the wake of #MeToo and an increasingly gender-aware world. The new curriculum for preschool also includes physical integrity as a new goal for teaching.

Important knowledge

Sweden's first dance teacher education started at Luleå University of Technology in Piteå in 2003 and Cecilia Björklund-Dahlgren holds the country's first professorship in dance education on an artistic basis. With that competence bank in the back, parts of the university's other teaching program now choose to begin the work of lifting the dance as an important part of the program. First out of the collaboration are the elementary and preschool teachers who spend at least one day at the dance teacher training in Piteå.

– Arts, drama and music are already included in our teacher training courses, but dance as an aesthetic learning process is unfortunately missing. Therefore, it feels important that our students gain knowledge in and about this form of expression, says Ulla-Britt Bergdahl, university lecturer and teacher educator at Luleå University of Technology.

– Dance contains almost all communication skills that a person needs and I also lean towards previous studies which mean that the thought is rooted in the body and that it is with the body we first understand before we can put it into words, continues Ulla-Britt Bergdahl.

International language

In addition to benefits such as increased physical activity and training of the senses, the dance can also be a bridge over cultural and language barriers.

– Dance is a universal means of expression and one of the most effective ways to reach children who lack the spoken language, says Cecilia Björklund-Dahlgren.

One of the students at the preschool teacher program who got to take part in the dance training in Piteå was Daniel Carlbom from Gothenburg. A day he describes as inspiring and educational.

– For me, this was very rewarding and I have gained a lot of knowledge that I will be able to use when I enter the profession. Dance can be used for a variety of educational purposes and correlates well with the new curriculum which emphasizes that educators should work with children's motor skills and emotional development. I also think that dance as a form of expression creates a softer and more open atmosphere in the classes.

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Cecilia Björklund-Dahlgren

Björklund-Dahlgren, Cecilia -

Organisation: Dance Pedagogy
Phone: +46 (0)911 72753