[NewsJapan.net] Popular "street dance" is introduced into the class
From April 2012, based on the new education guidelines issued by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) in Japan, “dance” and “budo (traditional martial arts),” which have been carried out as elective courses, have become compulsory in the physical education courses of the first and second grade public junior high schools. Until now, the track and field and the ball games were major physical education courses. However, from now on teachers and students will experience various types of sports including dance and martial arts. Especially for dance, it has been made compulsory from the viewpoint of putting children through various exercises in order to cultivate expression and communication abilities and enable them to choose forms of exercise that suit them in the future.
Each school can select one or more dance courses from among the three: contemporary rhythmic dance such as hip-hop; folk dance; and creative dance. According to a MEXT survey(*), the selection results were as follows: contemporary rhythmic dance 66.3% (623 schools), creative dance 48.8% (459 schools), and folk dance 38.9% (366 schools). A sense of rhythm, physical strength, and flexibility will be built up through dance while feeling the enjoyment of dancing to the music and the pleasure of expressing ourselves. Among teenagers, “street dance” such as hip-hop is rapidly gaining popularity, and the number of teen dancers who participate in contests and events and even attend dance studios is on the increase.
The fact that more than sixty percent of the junior high schools chose contemporary dance shows that many students who will be taught dance really want to learn it. In contrast, there are many voices of concern from physical-education teachers; “Can I teach popular street dance to students?” “Can I dance with rhythm?” and “I have never taught dance.” Reflecting these opinions of teachers and schools, local governments and private dance schools now offer lessons for teachers to learn or improve dance skills in order to reduce their burdens as much as possible when dance classes become compulsory. But teachers who participate in dance lessons seem to feel a physical limit to begin this kind of dance in their 40s and 50s and are uneasy about teaching students who have more experience than they have. Some people who have had nothing to do with dance in their lives seem to find it quite difficult to dance with music.
For the compulsory dance course at junior high schools this time, some people wonder “Why hip-hop in a physical education class?” and have different opinions about it. In addition, the polarization in students seems to appear according to whether they have dance experience or not, or whether they are good at dance or not. In such a situation, how do teachers evaluate students fairly? Not only teachers but parents of students are worried. However, it is also certain that compulsory dance has just started, and moving the entire body to music can be a stimulus to both mind and body. It is gratifying that the number of children who are interested in various types and tempos of dance is increasing. It will be very interesting to see how dance classes will be conducted in junior high schools throughout the country in the future.
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