Meeting the Needs of Our Students Introduction: As a Comprehensive and Inclusive Art Form, Dance Can Be Experienced by All People
Crabtree, Kacy E., JOPERD--The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance
Dance is an individual and community art form that allows individuals to discover themselves and the world around them, while also learning discipline-based content knowledge, skills, and application. As a comprehensive and inclusive art form and physical activity, dance can be experienced by all people, regardless of their unique abilities and dispositions.
According to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the term "disability" refers to an individual who has a "physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities" (Sec. 12102). To clarify this process and outcome for each child with a disability, Congress developed the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004, which provides a "free appropriate public education" (Sec. 682). This process is to ensure the further education, employment, and independent living of persons with disabilities.
It is imperative for educators to know and understand the types of disabilities that students may have in their classrooms and other dance environments in order to meet their personal and scholastic needs. In addition to the general categories of "physical and mental disabilities," the scope of disabilities apparent in many educational systems includes cognitive, emotional, social, behavioral, health, psychiatric, and attitudinal categories.
Acknowledging and working with students who have a disability can help create a school culture of respect and tolerance, acceptance, and collaboration. Problem-solving and critical-thinking skills are enhanced and the creative process is more fully developed when performance opportunities are designed for a wide range of abilities. To dance is to embrace one's humanity. When described and taught from a multidisciplinary perspective, dance becomes genuinely accessible to all students, no matter their age or ability.
The National Center on Universal Design for Learning (2010) reminds us of the value and importance of providing a dance curriculum that includes performance experiences. Dance classrooms of the 21st century should be accessible to all students and inclusive in everything from the implementation of the national dance standards, to the equipment, materials, and supplies that are used. Educators can be adequately prepared for any student who enters their class by carefully examining pedagogical practices and formulating their own teaching philosophy. …