“Brenda McCutchen—Guest Teacher at University of Northern Colorado”
August 29, 2016
Brenda McCutchen spent part of July in Greeley, Colorado as guest professor at the University of Northern Colorado. She was invited by Dr. Sandra Minton and Ms. Christy McConnell-Black who co-direct the graduate program which offers a master’s degree in dance education. McCutchen spent time with both cohorts of graduate students to investigate the art and the science of dance pedagogy.
Because the McCutchen textbook–Teaching Dance as Art in Education—is the main text for both cohorts in the degree program, she provided insights on how varied components from the text strategically interact to reinforce each other and how they overlay to accomplish multiple goals at once. The cohorts learned how to combine these different aspects to accomplish more in less time than if addressed separately. Experiential sessions demonstrated methods that also turned pedagogical dance theory into dynamic practice and informed our process.
The advanced students absorbed the 6DC model as a descriptive model of best practice (instead of being a prescriptive model). Thus they were empowered to make their own contribution to dance education in a way that suits their student population, within the parameters of these defining characteristics and the standards guidelines.
Both cohorts examined the 6DC model of educational dance presented in TDAE to determine how all six defining characteristic impact the educational value of dance in a K-12 curriculum. The six defining characteristics then became the basis for a three-dimensional matrix. This pedagogical matrix sets out to overlay the four artistic processes of dance’s cornerstone disciplines, the four areas of student development in dance, and other significant factors of dance education. Such a three-dimensional matrix expands the 6DC model into a “6DC3” practice that magnifies the educational impact of dance at all grade levels. The expansion of the 6DC in 6DC3 practice intentionally leads to a paradigm shift in dance education. It takes a conscious shift from the old 20th century “teaching dance” model to embrace the futuristic “educational dance” practice for the 21st century. This significant kind of evolutionary practice also aligns with other arts education models such as visual arts.
Both UNCo cohorts found this three-dimensional teaching practice is to be invigorating in its complexity as well as to have the potential to be transformative to both student and teacher learning. To transform theory into practice they created unit outlines to intentionally incorporate these concepts into inquiry-based, standards aligned practice. During the process, they discovered: “Literacy is maximized by embedding dance’s key concepts into engaging activities that require the ability to apply the concepts on the spot.” They also discovered how important a conceptual dance vocabulary is to educational units of study: “Certain vocabularies are required if students are to successfully make the paradigm shift from the old form of ‘teaching steps and styles’ of dance to more broadly ‘educating in and through dance as an art form.’”
Together McCutchen and the UNCo professionals fleshed out an inclusive educational context in which to deepen student understanding while supporting their skill development in dance’s artistic processes (creating, performing, responding and connecting). The goal was to discover how such inspired practice supports the expectations by the National Core Arts Standards in Dance and the educational intent of the “Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)” to grow literacy, conceptual understanding, and personal skills.
It was a pleasure to work with such keen minds and dedicated professionals at UNCo.