Cotswold Morris Dancers

World History in Performing Arts

Do you have students who just can’t sit still?  If you do, terrific!  Harness that energy and use it to link them with a culture that you are studying in class through a performing arts project.

In WorldView’s line of social studies digital textbooks, we have made a conscious effort to include a range of examples of art from a range of historical periods and cultures. As Winner and Hetland write in “Art for our Sake: School Arts Classes Matter More than Ever-But Not for the Reasons You Think,”

arts programs teach a specific set of thinking skills rarely addressed elsewhere in the curriculum…such skills include visual-spatial abilities, reflection, self-criticism, and the willingness to experiment and learn from mistakes.

As a teacher, you can extend that range to include live performance.  Several of the suggested projects in World History B require students to research and create or perform, and they are broad enough to be used with many different cultures.  In “Teaching Social Studies Through the Performing Arts,” Binta M. Colley notes that “using the performing arts in social studies methods not only promotes student engagement and learning, but also gives voice to students who are rarely heard.”

KQED has a roundup of videos from a variety of cultures that can be used as a jumping off point for research into the meaning of music, lyrics, costumes, and choreography of dance from around the world.  If you’re stuck for ideas, look how these newly-minted Ph.D.s interpreted their dissertations.  If “Studies of non-hydrodynamic processes in Inertial Confinement Fusion implosions on OMEGA and the National Ignition Facility” can be interpreted in dance, so can your social studies class.


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Dr. Annelies Kamran is V.P. for Content and Product Development at WorldView Software, Inc.

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