Dansen och pedagogiken : En undersökning ur ett estetiskt och etiskt perspektiv av dansens möjlighetsvillkor i sökandet efter kunskap och mening
This thesis investigates conditions from an aesthetic and ethical viewpoint under which an artistic expression such as dance can exist in the realm of general education. In the thesis dance and education are regarded as acts of transgression and change. Efforts are made to define spaces where the acts of dancing and education take place and to enquire whether dance and pedagogy can share such space gainfully.
The focus of the study is on dance in its own right, as an artistic mode of knowledge and expression, and as a manner of being with others. Dancing in teaching and curriculum learning activities is left outside the scope of this study. Research questions are asked about the essence and distinctive character of dance, its possibilities to bring about experiences of aesthetic and ethical nature and to provide a space in education for people to come together, dance and be with each other while finding knowledge and meaning in doing so. Questions are asked to the learner, i.e. the child, the pupil, the student, in this inquiry to two groups of students in teachers’ education, to describe their encounters with dance in a designed experiment. The accounts are analysed from an aesthetic and ethical angle and conclusions are drawn with implications for pedagogy and the educator.
The theoretical framework to the study is informed by John Dewey’s and Maxine Greene’s thinking on arts and experience and on aesthetic education and literacy, in dialogue with Gert Biesta’s post-structural thinking on education and subjectivity, as well as the stances of Merce Cunningham and other creators in postmodern and contemporary dance. The empirical study consists of a field study at a teacher education program at Södertörn University. Data were collected, transcripts from two student group conversations concluding a series of instructional seminars in creative dance within a freestanding course on children’s existential questions. Methodologically, discourse analysis with Wetherell and Potter’s analytic tool interpretative repertoire were applied.
The results of the study, analysed in accordance with the method, indicate that the participants through their utterances, making use of a variety of linguistic tools and metaphors, constructed meaning in their experiences of dancing primarily in terms of relational actions. Spaces were created in which these actions unfolded, characterised by presence, concentration, togetherness, speechless communication, proximity, trust, consideration, receptiveness and intensified perception. Creating dance appeared to be experienced in Dewey’s sense of aesthetic experience, and the relations described could be understood as ethical in line with Arendt’s and Levina’s philosophical thinking applied to education, fundamental in Biesta’s and Greene’s visions of education as a space for new beginnings and possible change. Resistance was experienced and dealt with in a range of manners and strategies. The creative aspect of dancing was experienced with great affect and an awareness of an intersubjective and disjunctive space of action.
Conclusions of aesthetic and ethic nature may suggest that conditions can be provided to have people come together in an educational setting and dance and appear in front of one another, when consideration is taken to both the specific demands of dance and pedagogy as art expression and transgressing discipline, entailing the need of a clear and conscious design for the activities and the pedagogue’s readiness to guide the children and young to explore their individual dance expression, emotions and lived experiences.
Further implications and issues for continued research are to which extend dance as free expression can be maintained and granted a space in education when addressing specific urging social and ethical issues of coexistence and plurality in a rapidly changing global world, how academic and artistic research can cross-fertilise each other, how practical professional artistic and pedagogical knowledge and theory can inform one another, and to further investigate adequate research methods, designed experiments and appropriate linguistic means for research in the intersection of arts and science, dance and pedagogy.
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