GOOD

Does Dancing Boost Student Achievement?

A Southern California dance program is proving that the arts play a bigger role in learning than we realize.

America's pretty dance obsessed lately. Three popular shows—So You Think You Can Dance, America's Best Dance Crew, and Dancing With the Stars—all get stellar ratings, and Natalie Portman won an Oscar for her portrayal of a troubled ballerina. But is there a connection between learning the art of dancing and better performance in school? The example of Santa Ana, California-based nonprofit, The Wooden Floor suggests that there is. Since 1983, they've been integrating year-round dance training for fourth- through twelfth-graders with academic assistance and family service. Since the program's inception, 93 percent of participants have gone on to college, and for graduates from the past six years, that number has climbed up to 100 percent.


What's especially impressive is that The Wooden Floor has achieved those results without cherry-picking kids from wealthy backgrounds. Santa Ana's a mostly poor and working class city with a large population of Latino immigrants. Almost all of the 375 participants in the program fall under the federal Housing and Urban Development poverty classification of "extremely low income" to "very low income," but 100 percent of high school juniors in the program take the SATs, compared to 35 percent of their peers in the area. Many of the students who go on to college are the first in their families to do so.

So how does the program do it? Enrolled students receive intensive dance training from some of the top companies and choreographers in the nation, which gives them the ability to innovate, communicate, and collaborate with others, and teaches self discipline and perseverance. This may sound like fluff, but a recent report from President Obama's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities said there are "strong and consistent links between high-quality arts education and a wide range of impressive educational outcomes." And, recognizing that these are students who need extra help with the academics, The Wooden Floor also provides tutoring for each student and gives them the college counseling they need to make higher education a reality. In contrast, given the deprioritization of arts programs in schools, dance programs in the Santa Ana Unified School District are pretty rare.

To ensure that students can attend tuition-free, the organization raises over $2 million dollars per year. The money covers the $3,500 per student cost throughout the year, and the school offers graduates four-year college scholarships which range from $4,000 to $10,000. Graduate Genovpetry Calderon, who spent eight years in the program, says she is "the first in my family to obtain higher education because I was fortunate to receive a scholarship from The Wooden Floor." This year's class of graduates will head to New York University, Cornell, UCLA, and Southern Methodist University.

photo via Kevin P. Casey

Articles
Julian Meehan

Young leaders from around the world are gathering at the United Nations Headquarters in New York Saturday to address arguably the most urgent issue of our time. The Youth Climate Summit comes on the heels of an international strike spearheaded by Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old climate activist from Sweden, who arrived in New York via emissions-free sailboat earlier this month.

Translated from Swedish, "berg" means "mountain," so it may feel fated that a young woman with Viking blood in her veins and summit in her name would be at the helm. But let's go out on a limb and presume Thunberg, in keeping with most activists, would chafe at the notion of pre-ordained "destiny," and rightly so. Destiny is passive — it happens to you. It's also egomaniacal. Change, on the other hand, is active; you have to fight. And it is humble. "We need to get angry and understand what is at stake," Thunberg declared. "And then we need to transform that anger into action."

This new generation of activists' most pernicious enemy is denial. The people in charge — complacent politicians and corporation heads who grossly benefit from maintaining the status quo — are buffered from real-life consequences of climate change. But millions of people don't share that privilege. For them, climate change isn't an abstract concept, but a daily state of emergency, whether it comes in the form of "prolonged drought in sub-Saharan Africa…devastating tropical storms sweeping across Southeast Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific…[or] heatwaves and wildfires," as Amnesty International reportsare all too real problems people are facing on a regular basis.

RELATED: Greta Thunberg urges people to turn to nature to combat climate change

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet

Millions of people in over 150 countries across the globe marched for lawmakers and corporations to take action to help stop climate change on Friday, September 20.

The Climate Strikes were organized by children around the world as an extension of the of the "Fridays for Future" campaign. Students have been walking out of classrooms on Fridays to speak out about political inaction surrounding the climate crisis.

"We need to act right now to stop burning fossil fuels and ensure a rapid energy revolution with equity, reparations and climate justice at its heart," organizers say.

There's no doubt the visual images from the marches send a powerful message to those on the ground but especially those watching from around the world. GOOD's own Gabriel Reilich was on the scene for the largest of the Climate Strikes. Here are 18 of the best signs from the Climate Strike march in New York City.

Keep Reading Show less

September 20th marks the beginning of a pivotal push for the future of our planet. The Global Climate Strike will set the stage for the United Nations Climate Action Summit, where more than 60 nations are expected to build upon their commitment to 2015's Paris Agreement for combating climate change.

Millions of people are expected to take part in an estimated 4,000 events across 130 countries.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet
via Apple

When the iPhone 11 debuted on September 10, it was met with less enthusiasm than the usual iPhone release. A lot of techies are holding off purchasing the latest gadget until Apple releases a phone with 5G technology.

Major US phone carriers have yet to build out the infrastructure necessary to provide a consistent 5G experience, so Apple didn't feel it necessary to integrate the technology into its latest iPhone.

A dramatic new feature on the iPhone 11 Pro is its three camera lenses. The three lenses give users the the original wide, plus ultrawide and telephoto options.

Keep Reading Show less
Health
via I love butter / Flickr

We often dismiss our dreams as nonsensical dispatches from the mind while we're deep asleep. But recent research proves that our dreams can definitely affect our waking lives.

People often dream about their significant others and studies show it actually affects how we behave towads them the next day.

"A lot of people don't pay attention to their dreams and are unaware of the impact they have on their state of mind," said Dylan Selterman, psychology lecturer at the University of Maryland, says according to The Huffington Post. "Now we have evidence that there is this association."

Keep Reading Show less
Health