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Why PE should be full of dance' Dance teaches children the values of hard work, resilience and t

It's funny that when dance crazes hit. Schools and parents tend to react with something in a range from resigned exasperation to outrage and a propensity to issues bans. Dabbing, the Floss, Gangnam Style – they keep coming, the kids keep learning them, the parents keep shaking their heads and tutting and the middle-aged geography teachers keep making videos of themselves trying to do them.

Like anything related to dancing, these things have tended to pass me by. But I have recently had something of an epiphany.

I was part of the panel that interviewed for a new member of staff who would contribute to both PE and school sports. Each candidate was asked to give a PE lesson. All of them were great but one threw in a curve ball by starting her lesson with dance.

The class being taught was Year 5, and half were boys. A number of those boys were what you might call reluctant in terms of exercise and equally reluctant in terms of being seen doing things deemed "not cool" by their peers. While we admired her chutzpah, we thought she'd bitten off more than she could chew.

We were wrong. Through some mysterious alchemy involving her enthusiasm, loud music, cool moves and a rush of endorphins, five minutes later they were all with her, the whole class dancing together to the music. It wasn't easy either – they were being challenged, they were working hard, breathing hard and breaking a sweat. And most of all, they were – some despite themselves – smiling.

I hope all you PE teachers out there will excuse my ignorance but when I think of PE, I think of running, jumping, throwing, catching, netball, football, cricket and so on. Dance just didn't occur to me. I wonder how many PE teachers are comfortable with it? Our applicant wasn't just teaching it, she was doing it, too – her enthusiastic example a large part of her success perhaps.

It got me thinking about the value of dance. Well, in PE lessons there are the immediate benefits: cardiovascular exercise, coordination, concentration, novelty, fun, no special equipment needed – but it goes beyond that.

My daughters both dance several hours a week, enjoy their lessons and love being in shows. It occurs to me that dance lessons and performances teach children so many of the qualities we try and instil in them in school; qualities that are best learned by experience and by example rather than didactically.

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