Can dance help boys to focus in class?

Dance is powerful medium with which to engage pupils, especially boys, according to experienced Dance Teacher Louise Wilkie.

Having taught dancing to children for over 20 years, Louise says it has the power to grab the attention of boys and keep them focussed, where classroom activities sometimes fail.

The role of professional male dancers has changed drastically in recent years, with their expectations and capabilities being pushed to their limit. Contemporary dance is, therefore, extremely physically and intellectually demanding.

But the idea of boys dancing is still an area of some contention, owing to gender stereotypes and concerns about the quality and type of dance that is accessible in schools.

The benefits are clear enough, writes Louise in Headteacher Update – physical fitness and control, teamwork, self-discipline and self-confidence.

“As someone who teaches dance at primary levels in South Yorkshire, I am continuously working with children including boys who struggle to focus in classes, but who can engage through dance,” she says.

“Many times, the teacher has approached me at the end of a session, telling me how surprised they are that a particular boy was captivated during the class.

“As an educational tool, dance has so much scope and can be an excellent medium through which to teach. In addition to the physical aspect, themes, topics, stories, concepts and history can all be explored through dance.

“Furthermore, while the imagination is captured, classroom learning is reinforced and further learning motivated.”

According to Louise, boys enjoy dance if they can relate it to real-life situations, such as imitating shapes from different sports like leaping over hurdles or shooting a basketball.

“I find boys especially enjoy having the power to make an original contribution,” she says.

“Recently, I asked children in a space dance workshop to find as many ways to represent a rocket launch (in dance movement) as possible. The boys came up with some very interesting ways to ‘launch’.”

Boys enjoy the physicality of dance and it allows them an alternative means of expression and communication, she explains. Dance, in short, can make them more focussed individuals.

“Once intrigued, the hope is that boys will be motivated to go “back to the desk” in order to listen, write, speak, read and learn.”

If you are thinking of engaging your male students through dance lessons and you need some flexible, modular school staging that can be arranged into any form you wish, contact Unistage on 01254 680575.

Louise Wilkie (BA Hons (First Class) Philosophy, Licentiate of the Royal Academy of Dance) is the founder of Think Create Move.

She has taught, choreographed and produced children’s dance theatre for twenty years and is currently freelancing teaching critical and creative thinking through philosophy, choreography and dance.

For more information, contact Louise on 07714 251 036.

Thanks to Headteacher Update for allowing us to quote from their article.