Towards the Seamless Integration of Dance Education in the Australian Primary Classroom: A dance and performance studies perspective
The place and significance of Creative Arts subjects within the educational landscape and school curriculum has long been a topic of debate. This thesis concentrates on the most historically marginalised of creative subjects, dance. This study addresses the absence of current Australian research on dance education by understanding the teacher experience, exploring how teachers use various pedagogies to construct meaningful dance activities and analysing how teachers seamlessly integrate creative dance in their classrooms. Three public primary school teachers from the Sydney Metropolitan area were selected to participate in the project, allowing for a cross-section of experiences. The design follows a qualitative multiple-case study methodology in which participants were encouraged to express their experience with dance through interviews, surveys, collection of classroom programming, and reflective responses. The findings indicate that although teachers appreciate and understand the importance of creative subjects and are willing to include them in their students’ daily lives, they are not using specific pedagogies in their construction of dance activities and, consequently, not integrating dance seamlessly in their classrooms. Instead, teachers provide dance where and when they can, based on the experiences that they have had with dance and using the form most accessible to them. Several challenges hinder teachers from integrating dance activities, including inadequate professional development opportunities and pre-service education, limited space and time, lack of confidence and dominance of traditional academia. To conclude, this thesis suggests a possible future of dance education and what is essential for teachers to integrate dance more actively and purposefully in their classrooms.