Kathleen Fotheringham, Southern Utah University
How can dance-history integrated learning improve comprehension and retention of history content? Studies show that using the mind and body together continually develops and improves a person’s ability to remap their brain and rejuvenate the central nervous system. Staying active mentally and physically in developmental years creates connections in the brain and body building foundations for cognitive development and improved memory and comprehension. This same connection is how dancers are able to learn concepts, vocabularies and information both kinesthetically and mentally. If these sorts of physical memorization techniques, and kinesthetic learning experiences were applied to history teaching, students may have an increased ability to engage with as well as retain historical information. Memory is a crucial part of maintaining and furthering knowledge and understanding in history, yet instructors still stand in front of students, verbally regurgitating the information students need to know in hopes they will understand and retain any of it. One solution for this in the past has been reenactment teaching as a way of engaging students in the material. But this also brings up ethical issues of dishonoring the past, and the people who actually experienced those events. While the intentions behind this method are well-meant, they often cause more problems than they solve and don’t usually offer students any more retention of the events than lecture style instruction. I believe dance-integration can be the solution to this issue. I will be analyzing sources on both dance and history pedagogy. I will use evidence from these sources to create a new argument for how the two subjects may be integrated in ways that will prove to have more successful results for students. I will examine studies and statistics of successful dance-integration projects and synthesize that information with the current failures in history teaching. I will also draw on my own experiences integration projects that I have worked on as a student at SUU. My thesis is that history learning will be more effective if it can be integrated with a creative movement component, as this will facilitate better retention of facts and help students to engage kinesthetically with the past, instead of emotionally. I believe teaching a connection of the body and mind together will foster improved memorization and comprehension of historical events, while steering away from reenactment experiences that minimize real lives and events of the past.