I was really sad to hear about the recent passing of Sir Ken Robinson. He was an advocate for integrating the arts in learning – when it was educationally fashionable or, as in recent times, not so much. He believed in the power of the arts to enhance life experiences for all young people but perhaps especially for youngsters who find a text heavy curriculum (such as the one we have today) a barrier to learning. He reminded us again and again that learning does not just happen while we sit behind a classroom desk, “We think about the world in all the ways that we experience it. We think visually, we think in sound, we think kinaesthetically. We think in abstract terms, we think in movement.” [1]

When I taught a course on arts integration to preservice teachers at the University of South Florida, I routinely showed his famous TED talk (see link below) and when the video stopped, there was always an initial silence – as if his words were quietly awakening some personal memory of significance. Then the student teachers would start sharing instances of dance or drama performances they had been involved with at school – experiences they remembered because the learning involved the body and happened beyond the classroom desk. Yes, knowledge is power but surely it becomes even more powerful when expressed in ways that establish we are sentient beings, ill-suited to sitting all day. We are increasingly surrounded by words (including the words of this blog!) but sometimes words really are not enough, for as Sir Ken reminded us in his TED talk, “we all have bodies, don’t we?” Yes we do, so let’s use them.

[1] https://www.ted.com/talks/sir_ken_robinson_do_schools_kill_creativity?language=en