Science, history, math and even economics can be taught by using dance believes faculty member Peggy Ann Hunt.
Hunt has developed innovative techniques to use dance and movement to help children who may have trouble learning in traditional ways. “Dance pulls kids in to learning who may fall through the cracks in a regular classroom setting. Those children are usually kinetic learners. If a teacher can teach vocabulary words like ‘prance, slither or flutter’ by having the children do it themselves, then they are more likely to remember it for the test and be able to use it in their daily lives,” says Hunt.
Recently, Hunt conducted a workshop for 40 educators in Michigan. She demonstrated movement techniques that these teachers could use in their core curriculum. “I can’t really learn science unless I dance it,” says Hunt. Dancing can be added into the lesson plan like videos or textbooks. During her six month stint as Senior Fellow at Nanyang University in Singapore last year, she conducted a workshop for youngsters on the ecosystem of a coral reef. Each child “danced” a sea animal or coral along with singing how that sea creature behaves and what it contributes to the ecosystem. She said the test scores following that lesson were significantly higher than with other groups that learned the lesson through textbooks. Hunt also mentions a workshop she did in Hawaii for fifth graders learning the three forms of government. How do you dance the executive, legislative and judiciary branches of government? Well, Hunt had to think about that for a while. She came up with a routine and later the kids had no problem doing well on the test. In addition to teaching science lessons and social studies, dance also incorporates coordination and cooperation.
Hunt is looking forward to lending her expertise to the dance education curriculum, getting involved in local schools and introducing local educators to the power of dance in the classroom.
She also is an expert in stilt dancing and loves to use colorful costumes with large masks in her productions. If you see a 10-foot-tall giant green tree frog walking through campus in the future it will probably be one of her students in a production centered around ecological issues, her favorite subject.
Hunt is one of the many College of Visual and Performing Arts faculty who use creative methods to help students unlock their potential and learn to express themselves in various ways, while also enriching the university and community with quality cultural events and programs.