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ERIC Number: EJ972388
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010-Nov
Pages: 3
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0025-5785
From Square Dance to Mathematics
Bremer, Zoe
Mathematics Teaching, n220 p14-16 Nov 2010
In this article, the author suggests a cross-curricular idea that can link with PE, dance, music and history. Teacher David Schmitz, a maths teacher in Illinois who was also a square dance caller, had developed a maths course that used the standard square dance syllabus to teach mathematical principles. He presents an intensive, two-week course (ten afternoons) to his college students, using the moves from the Mainstream and Plus syllabi to explain various aspects of mathematics, including fractions and symmetry and, whilst this is currently taught at college level, the author feels sure that the lessons could easily be adapted for use in secondary schools to support mathematics courses at GCSE or A level. The course, as it now stands, is primarily maths-based, which is why it introduces students to the dance moves in an order that makes no sense in terms of choreography. The drawback to this order is that some of the simplest moves are left till last, as they are mathematically more complex. Enjoyment of the art form is central to how quickly students learn the moves, so that they can perform them without having to stop and think and can therefore spend more time reflecting on the mathematics of the moves and the patterns that they make or describe. In order to present this course, schools would need to work with a caller who teaches the standard square dance syllabus, which is set at international level by Callerlab, the callers' international professional association. The author's proposed solution to the problem of the order of moves taught, would be to work through the syllabus with the caller in advance, to develop a syllabus that was choreographically logical whilst still introducing the mathematics at a sensible pace commensurate with the students' academic level. A suitable way to present the course would be to get a whole school year together in the hall or gym so that sufficient dancers were present to form several sets. To estimate the room needed, each set needs an area at least the size of 12 foot square.
Association of Teachers of Mathematics. Unit 7 Prime Industrial Park, Shaftesbury Street, Derby, DE23 8YB, UK. Tel: +44-1332-346599; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Secondary Education
Audience: Teachers
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Illinois