Saturday, 23 March 2013

Task 5c - Part 2

In Part 1 I looked at the contexts and theoretical approaches to ethics and how they might be applied to my professional practice and inquiry.

In Part 2 I am going to look at the philosophical aspects of morals and ethics and how vital it is, as researcher and practitioner, to understand how to maintain as objective and sound a moral standpoint as possible when faced with ethical decisions or dilemmas.

Analysing ethical problems

The Reader describes three processes when ethics, within the field of philosophical enquiry, is the philosophical study of morality and moral issues. (p.15). These processes, with definitions by Fieser, J (2009), are:
  1. Metaethics investigates where our ethical principles come from, and what they mean. Are they merely social inventions? Do they involve more than expressions of our individual emotions? Metaethical answers to these questions focus on the issues of universal truths, the will of God, the role of reason in ethical judgments, and the meaning of ethical terms themselves.
  2. Normative ethics takes on a more practical task, which is to arrive at moral standards that regulate right and wrong conduct. This may involve articulating the good habits that we should acquire, the duties that we should follow, or the consequences of our behavior on others.
  3. Finally, applied ethics involves examining specific controversial issues
I found these quite difficult to understand until I read the following:
By using the conceptual tools of metaethics and normative ethics, discussions in applied ethics try to resolve these controversial issues. The lines of distinction between metaethics, normative ethics, and applied ethics are often blurry. For example, the issue of abortion is an applied ethical topic since it involves a specific type of controversial behavior. But it also depends on more general normative principles, such as the right of self-rule and the right to life, which are litmus tests for determining the morality of that procedure. The issue also rests on metaethical issues such as, “where do rights come from?” and “what kind of beings have rights?”
                                                                                     (Fieser, J. 2009)
By thinking of the three processes as inter-related - all part of the building up understanding of, or insight into, any ethical problem -  I can now see their importance. An example, from my practice, might be 'discipline in the dance studio'.
Metaethics would perhaps involve looking at "what is meant by discipline?" and "what right does one person have to discipline another?"
Normative ethics would take into consideration the views on discipline within the society, and the reasons for the discipline - right and wrong, what is good practice, what effect will it have on others.
Applied ethics would then be the discourse on how to maintain professional practice and ethics whilst solving any discipline problems using the other two processes as guidelines.

The Reader then goes on to explain the two ways of discussing an ethical problem - descriptive and normative ethics. The first as a more scientific statement of fact and the second as the moral choices made by people - what one ought to do (p.15).
Again, I had a little trouble in how this related to a professional context but this really helped to clarify things for me: Normative vs Descriptive Ethics (Dumitru, D).

Applying this to my inquiry I can see the following:
  1. I could use descriptive ethics to say what I did and why, in which case my research ethics could be seen as either right or wrong depending on the person reading my research.
  2. By using normative ethics I could explain the reasoning behind what I did and why, and suggest the moral standards to which I held myself accountable during the research process. This would give the reader the opportunity to understand the motivations behind, and ascribe value to, the moral choices I made.

Ethical arguments
  1. Ethical claims include both your premise and your rationale but debate over how logical your argument is or whether it is the only way of looking at the situation will question the value of your inquiry.
  2. Objectivity and reason keep practice and research open and fair, but without context they have little validity in the wider application .
  3. What is the motivation behind your inquiry - altruism? personal gain? furthering your area of practice? of benefit to others?  (Reader, p.16-19)
The module handbook also points out the need for ethical approaches to the methods used within the inquiry itself and how the findings are presented:
  • Avoid plagiarism by not trying passing someone else's work off as your own or not giving citing literature correctly. 
  • Maintain objectivity by acknowledging insider-knowledge that might bias your research. For example: asking leading questions. 
  • Report data honestly by not just picking out evidence that supports your claim
  • Gain permission from participants through honest methods and by ensuring they are informed of all the necessary information.
A great book that discusses even more ethical practices is The Good Research Guide by Martin Denscombe (1998). It is a wealth of information and cautionary advice for small-scale research projects from planning to collecting data to analysing results and writing up findings. It will definitely be something I will find myself constantly referring to in the following months.

Another fantastic tool is the Ethical Guidelines for Educational Research (British Educational Research Association). It outlines the responsibilities that we have as researchers to the people involved in our inquiry, whether participant, sponsor or general public.
Which leads nicely into the last section of the Reader...

The Power of the Researcher (p.20).

In my inquiry I will undoubtedly be asking for the support of students, adolescents, parents, employers, colleagues, and organisational bodies. I have to be aware of what effect any of my research might have on them. Examples I can immediately think of are:
  • Asking students to answer a questionnaire on motivation might cause them to write down answers that they think I want to read, or to be worried that I might use their answers against them in lessons.
  • Writing about other teachers within a small school could affect how anonymous they will appear in the findings. This could lead to awkward situations between myself and the other teachers, or indeed between the teacher and her employer.
  • Asking parents to give consent for their child to participate in the study means that they have to place their trust in my honesty and integrity, and that the context of the study is suitable in content.
I will be looking at these concerns and, I imagine, many others with my SIG over the next few weeks. I hope that, through discussion, debate and the benefit of other points of view, I can arrive at a plan that will help to ensure that my enquiry satisfies all the relative ethical guidelines - from my personal morals through the participants and professional organisations to the wider population.

BAPP (Arts) Reader 5 Professional Ethics (2012-13). School of Media and Performing Arts Institute for Work Based Learning, Middlesex University.

BAHonours Professional Practice (Arts) WBS 3630 (2012-13). School of Media and Performing Arts Institute for Work Based Learning, Middlesex University.
BERA Ethical Guidelines for  Educational Research. Available: Accessed 22nd March 2013

Cline, A. Descriptive, Normative and Analytical Ethics. Available: Accessed 22nd March 2013.

Denscombe, M. (1998). The Good Research Guide: for small-scale social research projects. 3rd edition. Open University Press.

Dumitru, D. Normative vs. Descriptive Ethics. Available: . Accessed 22nd March 2013.

Fieser, J. (2009). Ethics. Available: Accessed 22nd March 2013.


Task 5c - Part 1

I have found the Reader on Professional Ethics really interesting, and it has led me to several discussions with professional associates about the nature of ethics, ethics within the dance school, and the wider social and more intimate personal guidelines.

It has been clear from the start that debate over the rights and wrongs of some topics will almost certainly rage on for eternity. I immediately think of gay marriage, abortion, fox-hunting, the Gaza strip, the IRA/ Northern Ireland...the list is seemingly endless. Whenever two opposing points of view meet there is always going to be conflict - from wars of words to violence against one another.

Moving from the social to the organisational and professional aspects of ethics (p.4) I have realised that although there are guidelines, rules and regulations provided for dance teachers (see my blog about Task 5b) these are still open to interpretation by the individual depending on two main things,
  1. the personal moral stand-point (a combined result of the individuals cultural, social, religious background and life experiences)
  2. the understanding of the individual guidelines and whether the individual subscribes to one (or more) ethical concepts - the end justifies the means, for the greater good, for the good of all, there is only one right, it's god's will, etc.
In an ideal world the ethics all correspond to the preceding level and there is relative harmony and balance, however it is very unlikely that this will always be the case and it is the individual's judgement that also gets brought into the situation, albeit judgement that is tempered by the knowledge of codes of conduct, laws, and morals.

In Ethical issues in professional practice by Ingrid Lunt (2008), she says the following:
"Very few ethical codes prescribe and provide guidance on the do's and don'ts of ethical behaviour. In this way they are very different from a code such as the Highway Code which provides clear and prescriptive guidance as to how to drive a vehicle and behave on the public highway." (p.80)
Hannah Stewart wrote about the social, organisational, professional and personal in her Task 5c document. Showing how, at each of these levels, there are important ethical considerations to be taken. She suggests how one situation can be looked at very differently from the point of view of each context and how they can affect one another and even produce disharmony and ethical dilemmas.

In approaching my professional inquiry some of the aspects of ethics should be fairly straightforward, as long as I pay attention as to how I go about it:
  • be open and upfront about the why's, how's and what for's of my inquiry
  • respect the rights and dignity of those who are participating (Denscombe (1998), p.141
  • gain informed consent from participants
  • ensure data is collected and stored safely and confidentially (Data Protection Act, 1998)
  • maintain the anonymity of participants
However, other aspects of the inquiry could be open to debate depending on the participants/ readers point of view:
  • the benefits to participants, and others, of my inquiry topic. For example, I might think my area of research is beneficial but others might see it as a waste of time or not helping them in any way.
  • the relevance and use of any findings. For example, does what I have researched have wider applications or only localised to my practice?
  • the accuracy of data and of any conclusions drawn. For example, if I rely on self-report and personal accounts can these be accepted by others as true and factual? Do my conclusions include any personal bias as researcher-practitioner?

The Reader moves from the contexts of ethics to theoretical approaches - consequentialism, deontology, and virtue ethics (p.8). Rather than talk about them here, I'm going to refer to a great blog piece, written by Clare Orlandi, about how these theories could be applied in the context of a teaching scenario (First Installment of Ethics in a Professional Context.., para.4). I found myself thinking about how different the outcomes could be for a student depending on where the teacher stood on these theories...

Comparative ethics (Reader, p.10) was something I felt I already had an awareness of, for example - the role of women in society throughout the ages, from one culture to another, and through the eyes of religion.
Thinking about it in terms of my professional inquiry, I can see that it is important that:
  • I am up-to-date with my knowledge of standards and practices in research by reading the latest information. I also need to ensure that I operate within the current laws of the United Kingdom.
  • Keep in mind the sensitivity of any questions asked, relative to the participants in the study. For example, being aware of how a question I ask might lead to discomfort or offence depending on the religious/ familial background of the study group.
  • Knowing what is currently 'out there' in relation to my topic area - to ensure accuracy and relevance in my research - and ensure that any articles I read, and perhaps draw evidence from, are reliable and fair. For example, checking that any organisation that might be paying for the research have not influenced or adjusted the findings of the inquiry to suit their own ends.

Wow! That seems like a really long post already and I don't feel I've even scratched the surface of ethics in a professional context (Handbook WBS3630, Summary of tasks, p.16) so I'll stop at this point, go back to my title, add "Part 1", and carry on with the second part of the Reader in another post!


BAPP (Arts) Reader 5 Professional Ethics (2012-13). School of Media and Performing Arts Institute for Work Based Learning, Middlesex University.

BAHonours Professional Practice (Arts) WBS 3630 (2012-13). School of Media and Performing Arts Institute for Work Based Learning, Middlesex University.

Denscombe, M. (1998). The Good Research Guide: for small-scale social research projects. 3rd edition. Open University Press.

Lunt, I. (2008). Ethical issues in professional life, p.73-98. Exploring Professionalism (Ed.) Cunningham, B. Bedford Way Papers, IOE, University of London.

Friday, 22 March 2013


Last night was spent catching up with a close friend and professional associate and the following blog is a result of a very informal conversation around the subject of teachers and motivation.

We both trained at the Stella Mann College from 1991- 1994. She started at 16, whilst I was 18.
We left college with the same teaching qualifications. She went on to perform for many years, whilst I went into teaching. She currently teaches, choreographes and coaches a wide range of students.
Both our dance training prior to this was in ballet, tap, modern with festival work and show performances.

I started talking about the BAPP inquiry and how I find myself drawn to the topic of motivation in students - the how's and why's - and in particular what motivates students who are not thinking of dance as a career. I also talked about how I would like to write about our conversation in my BAPP blog and that I would keep it anonymous (I will call her J from here) and J was happy for this to happen.
N.B. I will also be altering the names of any teachers mentioned within this post.

I started the ball rolling by telling J that another student on the course had produced a survey which asked if we had been inspired or motivated by any particular teacher and that my response had been immediate - Miss A. She was always so high energy, even if we weren't, and she spoke loudly and with big hand gestures and leapt about the studio between us all until you couldn't really help but be lifted up by her (even if you really didn't want to be!). J remembered the teacher well and agreed in my recollection of her classes.
I then pointed out how, on reflection, I had realised that I had only really attended her classes for a relatively short period of time before my timetable meant that I wasn't in her lessons any more. She seemed to have made a big impact on me as a student, and a big influence on the kind of teacher I am today. Why?
We began to talk about how in her lessons you always felt she knew you were there - that you weren't just a body in a class but an individual with your own abilities, faults, personality and problems. Somethin we both agreed was not the case with other teachers.
I then asked J who she would say had been the most memorable for her (in a positive way) and she replied Miss B. Why? Because of her creativity in her choreography - both in class and in show numbers. I agreed that I found her numbers to be the most satisfying to perform, and J talked about the way she could take even a plie exercise and make it exciting or challenging.
We then hit upon one teacher who elicited very different responses - Miss C. I have nothing but gratitude and respect for her, she took me in hand at a time when I was very negative about ballet - not the discipline itself but my lack of turnout, dodgy hips, soggy stomach muscles, restricted limbering, low stamina levels, etc., etc., etc. I was in a very "I can't" place when I started her lessons and she really gave me the tools to feel better about what I could achieve but without ever being unrealistic. J, however, had a completely different memory of her, one in which a love and desire to dance was systematically squashed and belittled and made to feel of less value than another class member who, how shall I put it, was blessed with a body that did whatever it was told!
We both sat back at this point...
Now, (and I realise you might put this down to personal bias on my part) I have never met another person who oozes dance out of her very being as much as J. She's got the heart of a dancer, the passion of a dancer, the style, the poise but, and I know she won't mind me saying this, she was never going to be a ballerina (me neither, for that matter). However, I know that she worked harder than most to be the best that she could be - motivated by her own desire. So how did the teacher who, in one class, took me beyond my limitations to achieve more than I ever thought I could cause J, in another lesson, to feel worthless and without ability.

Conclusion (of sorts)
The conversation really opened my eyes to how everything is subjective and dependent on the specific situation or the individuals experience.
In talking about people we both studied under we came up with very different outlooks. I can suggest that my fondness for Miss A is perhaps the similarity between my natural teaching style/ personality and hers...or that my memory of feeling important in her class has stayed with me and become important to me to pass on to my students.
J is a very creative, talented choreographer so it makes sense (in hindsight) that she would take particular pleasure out of Miss B's classes.
As for Miss C. Well. I can see how her sharp comments and strict discipline wouldn't sit well with every student. J said that she could respect her as a teacher who knew her stuff but that she felt she favoured some students over others.

In thinking about how this applies to my possible inquiry topic 'developing motivation in students' I can see that even by looking into what motivates/ demotivates students it is unlikely to produce a definitive list of do's and don'ts - J summed it up when she said 'as individuals within a class they will all need different things.' However by identifying common areas of, or by entering into discussions about, motivation in the dance studio I hope that it will give me more tools with which to try...

Thursday, 21 March 2013

For the benefit of...whom, exactly?

Posted on FB BAPP Dance Teachers SIG 

I've been reading a lot this week around the subject of both student motivation and emotional development in dance, which are clearly areas that cross-over.
I've found lots of research covering professional dancers, higher education dance students, students in full-time training and school students, which got me thinking about my daily practice.
I would say a large proportion of my pupils are not interested in dancing professionally nor carrying their training over into full-time or higher education. Where are their voices? Do they have something important to add to the subject of motivation and emotional well-being/ personal development? I would say MOST DEFINITELY SO! question is this, would you be interested in reading an inquiry that focuses on the motivation or self-development of adolescent dance students who take lessons once a week/ for fun/for enjoyment/ etc.? Perhaps from the students own perspectives?

 I'll leave you with an interesting thought that has really inspired me this week (from The Student Dancer by Julia Buckroyd, 2000):
"Physical training for young people...has the potential either to enhance and develop their confidence and self-esteem, or to undermine and damage it. The results in either case are likely to be long-lasting." (p.3)

Please comment as I really want to find out how important, relevant and/ or useful any inquiry I might undertake is going to be. After all, there would be no point to it otherwise...

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Task 5b

In Task 5a I looked at the sort of qualities and practices that I would consider to be part of the ethical aspects of my profession. Some were from the understanding I already had and some were further developed thoughts from reading the materials in this module.
The second part of this task was to find out the codes of conduct/ regulations relevant to my job, which I listed at the end of my blog 'professional ethics from a personal perspective'.

The main areas of importance across the codes are as follows,
  1. Integrity
  2. Competence
  3. Professionalism
  4. Objectivity
  5. Courtesy and consideration
  6. Confidentiality
  7. Honesty - in how you publicise yourself and the skills you attribute yourself as having
  8. Diligence
  9. Compliance - with national regulations and professional body codes, for example: health and safety, child protection, CRB, data protection.
Most of the information included in the documents I expected to be there, although perhaps in more depth than I had considered. However, there were a few areas I hadn't thought about.

An area that Clare Orlandi brought up as a post on danceteacherssig was the following, from the CDET code of conduct:


A teacher should:

  • assist professional colleagues, in the context of his or her own knowledge, experience and sphere of responsibility, to develop their professional competence.

As a teacher I am always happy to help out or listen to, and share, problems with other teachers, in the spirit that we are all working towards the greater good. I didn't realise that it was part of the code of conduct though!
Reflecting on the statement further, and from having read around the subject of competence as mentioned in Reader 4 Developing Lines of Professional Inquiry (p.10), it really brought home the difference between knowledge as static and knowledge as changeable and situation specific. Let me try and explain!

As dance teachers we all have a skill/ knowledge base that is used on a day to day basis but the application of which takes an understanding of the unique environment we find ourselves in on that specific occasion. For example, although I teach in the same school every Monday, each Monday brings a new set of challenges, opportunities and events that require a different application of my practice:
Successful adaptation to the circumstances encountered as one develops is more often accomplished through the co-ordination of abilities and appropriate knowledge, affect and behaviour patterns than through the capacity to utilise a single ability of reproduce a piece of information on demand. 'Competence', then, must be distinguished from the 'competencies' assessed in contemporary testing programmes. It rest on an integrated deep structure ('understanding') and on the general ability to co-ordinate the appropriate internal cognitive, affective and other resources necessary for successful adaptation.                                 (Wood and Powers, 1987, p.414)
The assistance of colleagues in sharing problems, ideas, difficult situations, etc., is therefore invaluable in furthering my ability so therefore must also become a fundamental part of how I interact with others in the same profession - the sharing of knowledge for the benefit of all. 

Another area that I found I hadn't even thought about was the following statement, again from the CDET,

Promotional material...should not make any disparaging references to, or disparaging comparisons with, the services of others.

I hadn't even considered the possibility that in advertising myself I might undertake to blacken the name of another teacher or dance school. I suppose this is a very naive way of thinking and that, in the climate we live in, some people would stop at nothing to get ahead of the competition. However, on a more individual note, I can relate this to gossip and talking about others in a less than professional manner. For example, the consideration that should I have an issue with another teacher I would take the matter to her personally rather than talking about her to other teachers and making derogatory claims about her skills.

One final area of which I hadn't been aware, and something I shall be reflecting on further, is the need for 'written, clearly defined aims and objectives setting out the broad goals to be achieved by the school.' (CDET Code of Conduct, 2008)
I have my day-to-day, termly, and yearly lesson plans/ outlines, in which I have clear statements of what I am trying to achieve in my classes at the various different places I work. I also have, as most of my lessons are syllabus-based, a clear outline and set of objectives from the professional body of each of the disciplines that I teach.
As I teach for other people should I have my own 'all-encompassing' document of 'broad goals' or am I bound by the ethos of the various schools that I work for?

I'm really glad that I've had this opportunity to refresh my knowledge of the finer details of the ethics surrounding my profession and know that I will now be more up-to-date when I reflect on my current practices.



C.D.E.T. Code of Professional Conduct and Practice for Teachers of Dance 2008/2009 Accessed 16 March 2013

I.S.T.D. Child Protection
Accessed 16 March 2013

I.S.T.D. Code of Professional Conduct and Practice for Teachers of Dance 2008/2009
Accessed 16 March 2013

R.A.D. Child Protection Policy Accessed 16 March 2013

R.A.D. Code of Conduct and Professional Practice for Teachers registered with the Royal Academy of Dance
Accessed 16 March 2013

Wood, R., & Power, C. (1987). Aspects of the competence‐performance distinction: educational, psychological and measurement issues. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 19(5), 409-424.

In the spirit of connectivity and accessibility...

I have added a new gadget to my blog page!

It's next to the video bar and lists all the SIGs I am currently interacting with.
I've added it in an attempt to remain easily, and more closely, in touch with my SIGs and to allow others to find and access them too. 

So far I've found the SIGs really supportive, and they offer a fantastic opportunity to swap ideas, receive feedback and to enter into more continuous, and immediate, discussion with others about possible areas of inquiry and just areas of interest to us as a group.

If anyone has a SIG group that they feel might be of interest to anyone who reads this blog (including me!) then let me know and I'll add the link to this page.


Life skills

Also posted on SIG group: danceteacherssig
Barclays is promoting a 'let's get students ready for work' initiative and I found the following part of the programme interesting with respect to my possible inquiry:
Reading through the qualities and skills listed I found myself thinking:
  • overcome challenges - we do that in dance class by controlling and adapting the way we move our bodies to create the moves/ qualities required
  • deal with setbacks - everyday occurences in dance class, for example: my body won't do this, I can't quite get that right, I don't understand the steps, I got a lower exam mark than I had hoped for...
  • build on success - again, everyday occurences in class, for example: I got that bit right today, I practiced so that I could remember the moves, I did well in my exam, my leg went a little higher in my kicks today...
  • instil good habits - attending dance class regularly, being on time, wearing the correct uniform, interacting with other people and building friendships, working together for show numbers or in partner work (like pas de deux classes or exam pairings).
Personal impact...
  • How to dress, act and communicate to make a positive impression - dance is all about how you present your 'self' to the teacher, examiner, audience,etc. Awareness of how to stand, how to behave, how to appear to others, are all daily habits of a dancer.
  • communicating effectively - in dance it is constantly about how to express what you are feeling or what style you are demonstrating so that the audience understands what you are trying to say or be.
This initiative with Barclays is aimed at 14-16year olds, just the sort of age where dance schools start to lose pupils due to the pressures and stresses of GCSE's. If dance can promote all the above skills then perhaps parents and students will be able to see the added benefits of continuing with dance training whilst studying for school examinations?
Perhaps my inquiry should be centred around this sort of age range? It's around the time when Emotional Intelligence skills are said to start developing (L.Tarr, 2005), and a time when students start to be pulled in differing directions - school, social, music, dance, sports - and have to make choices about the path they will continue along.

Your thoughts please...
Barclays Bank. Barclays Life Skills | Training and Work Experience for Young People. Accessed 18 March 2013
Tarr, L. (2005) Student Success: Motivating Middle School Students through Personal Development. Student Success Mindset, Da Vinci Learning Technologies Inc.
PO Box 7475, Springfield, IL 62791 Accessed 31 January 2013

Friday, 15 March 2013

Task 5a - professional ethics from a personal perspective

In my RoL module last year I chose to include Professional Ethics as one of my areas of learning. I thought it might be interesting to revisit what I had written as part of this task, and then add anything that I felt would be included now I had done further reading into the area.

I have uploaded the full document to my google drive but here are the main areas I identified as important to me:
  • judgement, to include honesty/ integrity, competency, and professionalism,
  • appropriate use of language and comments, and
  • what I would/ would not ask a student to do.
Three of the words I list above are what I would consider perhaps the most important ethical considerations, not just in my profession but in all professions:

  1. Integrity - being open, objective, responsible, considerate and with an awarenes of personal bias
  2. Competency - not just in being up-to-date with knowledge and skills but in the ability to transfer or transmit that knowledge successfully and in a manner suitable to the situation.
  3. Professionalism  - being fair and objective, co-operative and available for discourse and discussion.
Other areas I would add when considering the specifics of my job are:
  • Physical well-being - ensuring no harm comes to students, parents or colleagues from either the environment or what I require of them.
  • Emotional well-being - ensuring that no student is made to feel valueless or less worthy than others.
  • Honesty - in dealing with any monies taken or services offered/ claims made by me.
  • Confidentiality - in the safe-keeping of any data and the exchange of sensitive information between myself and parents, students or colleagues.

Now, on paper all of the above looks great we all know, real-life doesn't fit into neat little ethical boxes and there are some very murky 'grey' areas.
Also, there are some people who are not as ethical in their practices as others and it is for this reason that codes of conduct or ethics are produced by most professional bodies to both guide and safeguard. There are also government laws and legislations.

The next part of the task (5b) is to find out what ethical guidelines are produced by our professions and to identify areas that we find different to the assumptions made above.
The links for these are below, along with some relevant government legislations, and I'll be back in my next blog to look at where these guidelines might differ from my expectations:

Code of conduct - Royal Academy of Dance

Code of Professional Conduct and Practice - Imperial Society of Teachers of Dance

Code of Conduct - Council for Dance Education and Training (brought to my attention by Clare Orlandi)

Child Protection Policy - Royal Academy of Dance

Child Protection Policy - Imperial Society of Teachers of Dance

Childcare Act 2006

Equality Act 2010

Human Rights Act 1998

Data Protection Act 1998

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Helping hands

I'm in reflective mode today and thinking about how the skills I gained from all the topics covered in Module One have really combined to help me move forwards with my inquiry topic.
  • Reflecting through journals, on past experiences and on current practices, and work-related passions and issues has lead me to identify areas of relevance, personal interest and growth, and of potential interest to others.
  • Networking skills and Web2.0 practices have given me the opportunity to engage with others in order to enhance and expand on any reflections/ ideas - both through online articles and books, and discussions via blogging and social networking sites.
Even in the last two days these skill have lead me to:
  • Paula Nottingham's latest blog. In it she compares the search for an inquiry topic to fishing. Brilliantly simple, yet effective! It's something I think I'll be viewing my topics as and (to borrow the analogy) looking for the best catch!!
  • Set up an online survey (via surveymonkey) as a tool to gauge other professional's opinions on my areas of interest. I was also able to open this survey out not just to fellow BAPPers, but colleagues and friends who I felt might broaden my thinking.
  • Find a free Emotional Intelligence test that might help me to identify the types of questions I might want to ask (and obviously I had to take the test too!)
  • Discover that, although few, there are articles relating dance to emotional intelligence. For example, The trait emotional intelligence of ballet dancers and musicians.

I wonder what next week will bring...

Friday, 8 March 2013

Further investigations

From feeling inspired and intrigued by the concept of Emotional Intelligence (EI), and from the responses, so far, to my 'testing-the-water' questionnaire, I am still feeling very positive about trying to base my inquiry on whether there is any correlation between dance education and developing EI skills.
However, one of my main concerns has been 'does personality have a lot to do with Emotional Intelligence?'. For example, if I rate highly on areas such as openness and extraversion, and low on neuroticism - dimensions of the Big Five personality traits - am I already more Emotionally Intelligent as an individual than somebody with different personality traits, with or without the dance training?

Reading around the subject a little further I came across the following statement,
"Your personality is a result of your preferences, such as your inclination to introversion or extroversion. However, like IQ, personality can't be used to predict emotional intelligence... People often assume that certain traits (for example, extroversion) are associated with a higher EQ, but those who prefer to be with other people are no more emotionally intelligent than people who prefer to be alone. You can use your personality to assist in developing your EQ, but the latter isn't dependent on the former."
                                                                (Bradberry and Greaves, 2009, p.18)
If this is the case, which I hope further reading will help confirm or negate, then I feel that any inquiry I might undertake is more likely to stand alone in its validity as researching EI development in dance, rather than being muddied by the possible influence of personality.

Bradberry, T., & Greaves, J. (2009). Emotional Intelligence 2.0. TalentSmart.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Case study 1 - ethics

Reader 5 contains information around the topic of professional ethics and includes case studies from real-life and fictional situations. Already I have found that it raises some interesting and thought-provoking points about the nature of ethics and the level of responsibility that must be take to ensure that no harm is caused to anyone in the course of professional practice. Something that will be vital when pursuing my inquiry topic later on...

The diagram on page 4 of the Reader (see below) shows 'the ripple of effects from the personal right through both professional and organisational towards the society at large.' (Reader 5, p3)
                                                     Adapted from Reader 5 Professional Ethics
This diagram suggests that even the smallest of personal or professional ethical decisions can have a knock-on effect for the society at large and that professional and organisational codes of conduct or ethical practices can effect the individual practitioner as well as the wider world.
In the Reader it asks where the limits of responsibility lie, and from reading further and reflecting on what I've read I can begin to see that there are overlaps, with each context having the ability to affect others both in positive and negative ways.

In the first case study about the inquiry into standards of care at Stafford Hospital, this ripple effect is clearly seen working in two directions - both outwards (from personal to organisational) and inwards (from organisation to the individual) to create a dire set of consequences for patients at the hospital.

My immediate thoughts and notes, on reading the excerpt on page 5 (from The Guardian newspaper, 8th November 2010), were as follows:
  1. Failings were seen at every level of ethical principles. From the individual practitioners through the hospital managers to the authorities and agencies in charge of monitoring.
  2. Too many people 'in charge' with no-one actually keeping a strict eye on what was actually going on.
  3. No-one wanting to accept responsibility for events for fear of losing jobs, not achieving targets, losing funding, etc.
  4. Those who did raise concerns were ignored or made to feel like troublemakers.
  5. Those at grass roots level stuck in a position of hopelessness due to insufficient support and staffing.
  6. Hospitals now run as businesses not to provide a service, and the shift from people to figures has lead to less importance being placed on health care and instead being all about balancing budgets.
It could be said that the doctors and nurses should have raised their concerns more loudly and found ways to gain attention about what was going on. This could have lead to hospital managers being forced to take stronger measures to reduce such instances of neglect and mortality, which in turn would have alerted the relevant authorities to the possible need for greater support at local level and an awareness that these practices could be going on elsewhere.
This upward spiral of events does seem somewhat idealistic though...
How much influence can staff at grass roots level have on influencing the decisions of upper management? How can hospital management provide funding for better services when they have already been asked to make more cuts by their governing bodies?

I then went on to read some of the findings of the inquiry undertaken by Robert Francis QC,, which confirmed some of my initial thoughts and opened up some new areas of thinking. However, what I found most shocking was my lack of surprise at what I was reading. Not that I didn't find it appalling or upsetting but that I was certainly not surprised at the things that had happened. Did anyone else feel like that?
With this in mind, my final thought for this blog is in the form of a question,

    Has the ripple effect lead to the creation of this lack of societal outrage at what
    goes on in some professions/ institutions? If so, isn't this perhaps the biggest ethical
    failing of all?

I think this module is going to be very, very interesting and challenging...

Task 4d

Having started thinking about my possible area of inquiry, and from looking at my previous reflections, my past experience and my future hopes, I have proposed the following award title:

BA Honours in Professional Practice (Dance Education)

I have written the rationale for this on my google drive ,which can be accessed via the following link - Proposal of award title

I'd really appreciate feedback from you, particularly as to whether you feel this title has taken into account my previous knowledge and learning and whether it is open enough to lead me to further development and career opportunities.

Thanks :)

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Drawing parallels

Another google alert popped up in my inbox today and the lead article took me to a company called sixseconds. On their website they talk about the Six Seconds EQ Model, in which they have taken EQ theory (Goleman and others) and turned it into 'practice for your personal and professional life'  (

Watching the video clip and reading through the article I found myself drawing parallels between the sixseconds model and what goes on in the dance studio. Let me explain!
                                     Picture taken from

The picture above gives the sixseconds three step cycle of developing Emotional Intelligence. The first stage is 'know yourself' and in the film clip Joshua Freeman talks about this stage as 'becoming self aware and noticing what is happening in you' (0.51). This immediately got me thinking about how, as dance students, there is a continuous process of learning to understand your own body - from the first days of being able to co-ordinate skips and point toes to the more complex physical and artistic development of the student dancer.
The second part of the cycle is 'choose yourself' and this he equates to 'being more intentional' and 'managing yourself' (0.57), which seems to me to be exactly what develops in a dancer as they continue through their training - knowing their bodies allows them to perform in a way that they intend to, to achieve whatever shape they desire their body to create or whatever emotion they are trying to express by having control over it all.
The last part of the cycle is 'give yourself', which involves 'vision and values' and 'empathy and connecting with others' (1.07). Isn't the ultimate goal of a dancer how to connect with their audience and how they make that audience feel - from the first smile of a Primary exam candidate to the professional dancer performing on stage/ television/ film?

So, by drawing these parallels I really feel that there could be something worth looking into regarding how dance education can develop EI skills. However, I've not found my way in as to how I might go about this as a topic for inquiry yet...any thoughts?

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Task 4b

I've had the chance to read a lot of blogs since I've been back and have been really impressed by the brilliant ideas/ topics that people have been suggesting for their research.
I had been feeling much like the new girl at school, as everyone seems to have created really strong bonds whilst I was away, but it's been great to be able to join the Facebook page set up by Bobby Pingram as this has brought a lot of people with similar interests and ideas together and I hope now to be more involved in the discussions and idea-swapping.

Looking at the Reader it gives Task 4b as setting up your own SIG group, which I am happy to do but I feel that it might be setting one up that is similar to something that already exists.

Emily Hunt is interested in the psychological side of a dancer's mind, and both Bobby and Clare Orlandi are interested in topics such as self-esteem and student/ teacher relationships. I think that my area of interest also lies within the mental processes that can be encouraged and developed through dance so I hope there will be lots of opportunity for disscussion here.

I spent yesterday reading more articles/ papers on Emotional Intelligence but this time with its relation to dance education. The following article in particular inspired frantic journal scribbling:

My rationale behind looking into Emotional Intelligence in dance comes from wanting to promote the benefits of dance as not just physical and musical development but also that it can encourage the development of self-esteem, self-awareness and awareness of others. However I am not sure exactly how my research in this area could be appproached so would welcome any thoughts and the opportunity to enter into further discussion. As Bobby said in her latest blog
It's funny but I've really found that hearing my own ideas spoken in other people's words has made me able to access that bit of clarity that seems to constantly be on the tip of my Tongue!!! (Pingram, B 2013)
Today I am going to start asking other education professionals (non-dance), that I have access to in my network, as to their thoughts on whether dance training has any benefit outside of the dance studio, with particular emphasis on the skills mentioned above. I hope it will be interesting to see how the wider educational field views dance and hope that whether I get positive or negative reactions it will give me a real relevance to any research that I might want to do.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Task 4a

In the Reader for this module it gives guidance about choosing a topic that 'extends and clarifies your professional knowledge' (Developing Lines of Professional Inquiry, p.3) and that the ultimate goal should be to 'explore a topic that will benefit your work and the work of colleagues and fellow professionals' (Developing Lines of Professional Inquiry, p.3). I've been thinking about this a lot whilst considering possible areas of inquiry.

Looking back over my journal entries for the last few weeks, as well as reviewing Module One blogs and topics, I have seen that most of my issues/ concerns/ questions revolve around the more emotional side of dance teaching. Examples include questions about developing motivation, self-confidence, self-expression, etc., or concerns over how there is often less importance attached to dance classes than other forms of education.
With this in mind I started to look for articles and existing research within these topic  areas and started on a journey that went from just seeing what was out there to becoming really involved in discovering more.

Where I am now leads me to the following thoughts:
  1. How can dance teachers aid self-discovery and self-motivation in their students?
  2. Does dance education develop skills that can aid school-based learning (and beyond)?
  3. Does dance matter?
  4. Is dance training just about the physical?
  5. Is the dance studio a good representation of the real world?
My initial reaction to this is that they are all pretty much the same question but from differing perspectives...

I clearly feel strongly that dance is equally important to other forms of education and that, in fact, there may be skills that can be developed in dance that are neglected in the current education system. For this reason, I am drawn to my second point about dance being able to enhance learning in schools...
There seem to be many opinions today about how students leave school/ higher education without the skills to use their knowledge in real-life situations, and that they lack the abilities necessary to be successful in the work-place (interviews, dealing with others, motivation,etc.). If it can be suggested that dance develops these self-motivational and -awareness skills (amongst others) then it places a greater significance on the role of dance education in creating successful, motivated and (for want of a better phrase) well-balanced individuals who are more prepared for the real world.

I'd love to hear any thoughts you have as to whether there is something here that you think is worthwhile, or of interest...



(2013),"Emotional intelligence "wow" factor: Benefits of taking feelings into account", Development and Learning in Organizations, Vol. 27 Iss: 1 pp. 25 - 27. Available from: Accessed on 28th January 2013

Goleman, D (2000) "An EI-based theory of performance". In D. Goleman, & C. Cherniss (eds.), The Emotionally Intelligent Workplace: How to Select for, Measure, and Improve Emotional Intelligence in Individuals, Groups, and Organizations. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Available from:
Accessed 4th February 2013.

Tarr, L (2005) "Student Success: Motivation in Middle School Students through Personal Development". Available from:  Accessed 31st January 2013

Friday, 1 March 2013

Back in the harness...

It's been a long time since I posted but I haven't been hiding, just on a special trip with my father to celebrate his 70th birthday.

We got back yesterday from our cruise to Norway, and I'm excited to be back blogging again as I've been doing a lot of reading whilst away, of suggested texts and from articles and papers I have found whilst searching around the internet, and there is so much I want to share, discuss and get your opinions on!

I've taken about a million photos too, and will post some up on my flickr account over the weekend in case anyone is interested in seeing where I've been and what I've been doing...

Back real soon