Physical Education Programs

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Public K-12 education fails to include and integrate dance education in the school curriculum. Thirty minutes of daily recess is not used for teaching and learning. Students attend a total of seven hours of daily instruction in the classroom and one hour of physical education a week is when they have the opportunity to exercise and move their bodies. However, physical education does not include dance into their curriculum nor any of the subjects taught in the classroom integrate dance into the curriculum. Moreover, there are very few dance educators teaching at dance programs in public schools that are likely to be cut due to lack of funds and resources.

Research Questions

Could schoolteachers incorporate dance into the school curriculum? Could dance education be an elective in the K-12 school system? This study tries to answer these questions addressing five topics: student engagement, critical thinking, creativity, self-concept, and dance as part of a more holistic teaching approach.


Dance education gives students the opportunity to express their feelings through movement and better understand the meaning of words in a context. Dance is established by geometrical patterns and rhythms coordinated by mathematical measurements in time, speed, and space. Definitely dance educators can potentially support schoolteachers on how to integrate dance into the curriculum to better student learning and well-rounded education. Perhaps dance integrated into content areas is an effective holistic approach to critical thinking, social justice issues, allow artistic expression and exploration, inspire creativity, construct to conceptualize in a progressive manner, engagement, and autonomy, socialization in the school, and in the community.

Literature Review

There reasons underlying dance subject not been included in the school curriculum are mostly related to the big push of the No Child Left Behind Act that prioritized the formal teaching of reading, writing, and math for standardized high-stakes testing (Oreck, 2006; Berube, 1999; Risner, 2007; Minton, 2007). The benefits and importance of dance education are not recognized or understood, and there are few types of research related to the inclusion of dance as a subject into the school curriculum (Bonbright, 1999; Minton, 2007). K-12 education curriculum includes theater and arts (drawing, painting, graphics) as the most common subjects, representative of fine arts. Dance and other art forms are perceived as unimportant to the curriculum, adopted as enrichment courses instead (Chapman, 2007). Dance categories comprise physical, social, emotional, cultural, and historical which, if applied into content areas, could support engagement opportunities, culturally responsive methods, and multidisciplinary teaching (Giguere, 2005).

Research about dance engagement or disengagement associates dance to the words: fun/not fun/gratification. Superordinary/beyond the ordinary/everyday engagement experiments and other definitions are associated to dance as well. Engagement in dance is above engagement as a discipline or as an interdisciplinary approach (Stinson, 2007, P. 55; Bond & Stinson, 2001). Critical and creative thinking are associated with originality, fluency, abstractness, elaboration, and resistance increase with dance according to Minton’s research (2003). Dance benefits students’ creative and critical cycle that runs from risk-taking to originality (Keun & Hunt, 2006). Also, Trujillo (1981) observed that dance influences self-concepts such as physical, self, behavior, self-satisfaction, family self, and social self. While dance influences on students’ self-concept efficacy, competitive and artistic dance, parent involvement, introversion versus extroversion was observed by Vicario (2001). Self-concept as confidence was observed by Cassady et al. (2004).


A century ago, private education dominated the scene in the urban centers for the American middle-class that nurtured the fine arts. The traditional school philosophies become to change into progressive ones as public schools were becoming popular by adopting Dewey’s and other progressist approaches to education. Progressivism valued the arts as a medium to construct concepts through experience in education (Berube, 1999, P.5). Although the Sputnik Movement caused a backlash to the core curriculum to increase math and science education that disincentivized performing arts from the curriculum, it soon got support from the Arts and Humanities Branch of the Department of Education that incentivized performing arts in the curriculum and funded art programs (Chapman, 2000, P. 1). By 1991, however, more than half public schools in New York lacked art programs that were published at The New York Times. By 1997, the National Endowment for Arts, after a canvas study, declared that the basic curriculum had no place for arts (Berube, 1999, Pp. 3-4). In fact, since the 1980s, the political agenda was to launch the No Child Left Behind Act (Oreck, 2006; Berube, 1999; Risner, 2007; Minton, 2007) and A Nation at Risk: the imperative for educational reform (1983) did not include art education as a core curriculum.

However, President Bill Clinton, in 1994, enacted the Educate America Act including arts in the core K-12 curricula which added dance, music theater, and visual arts respective teaching standards. So, dance was finally accredited as a subject by its own National Standards and the art curricula that were funded by the national government aims to develop Clinton’s educational reform (Riddell, 2000, P. 2; Bonbright, 1999, p. 2). Stated by legislation, achievement in other subjects is correlated to dance and other arts subjects (Berube, 1999, P. 3). In the U.S., the first major in dance started in 1926 at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Even though, dance programs were facilitated by physical education programs until the 1974 Title IX and Equal Education Opportunity Act that stated dance as art.

The Arts Education Partnership (AEP) was created in 1995 to facilitate more than 150 art education agencies, organizations, and foundations to advocate and fundraise to enable art education programs along with other advocates to access GOAL 2000 funds and other resources as dance became important for public education. By 1997, the National Dance Education Association was created and have Jane Bonbright as its director. The NDEA has worked since to elevate and align the dance standards with the arts’ core and give dance the same level of federal funds. The arts education national standards are adopted in all states of the U.S., but dance does have gaps between goals and practice since its subject to the art core. In K-12 education across the nation, dance is available as an art form (Bonbright, 1999, p. 1-4). There are several issues in K-12 dance education such as lack of accountability, appropriate dance studios, jobs for accredited dance teachers, etc.. The equal access problem is not the legislation, but the obstacles for dance in K-12 is significant despite the progressive agenda changes in education. The solution might be a dance foundation that works to include the dance educator in collaborative projects to act as an advisor for the school as a whole in partnership with the community (Risner, 2007, P.18-20). Perhaps by raising the importance of dance in local public performances supported by the community will help create a need for dance educators to properly support students in K-12 public education.


Cite this paper

Physical Education Programs. (2020, Sep 22). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/physical-education-programs/

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