Sunday, 6 May 2018

CFE Day 7 - Tuesday, 1st May 2018. Morris Dancing – A Pedagogical Experience.

CFE Day 7 - Tuesday, 1st May 2018.  

Morris Dancing – A Pedagogical Experience.

The day started at 5:27am at Trimble Park with a May Day celebration. Tiddley Cove Morris and the Vancouver Morris Men were out in full force to dance away to ensure the sun and crops continue to rise in the year ahead. Both groups performed a number of dances and songs that originated mainly in the West and South-West of England. 

The event culminated in a public participation of a Maypole Dance resulting in the creation of a gorgeous ribbon on the pole, weaved as dancers moved in opposite rotation around the Maypole. Witnessing the gorgeous sunrise behind the early morning rain clouds was an experience to be had. Hence the early morning traditional English ritual fulfilled its purpose and was therefore a resounding success. 

            The festivity concluded roughly two hours after its commencement. At approximately mid seven, the entire troupe of both Morris groups moved to the Zen Café for breakfast and then breaking out in song and dance at the café itself to the amusement and delight of the café staff and other patrons there alike. 

          The next stop was to University Hill Elementary for a teach and participate for students there that also involved the principal herself and teachers in attendance. The experience involved students watching Morris dance demonstrations, listening to and learning to sing a couple of traditional UK English folk songs connected to Morris dancing, and a couple of large group communal activities for the elementary age students to participate to the tune of traditional English numbers courtesy of Susan on the melodeon, including the Maypole dance after some instruction and direction. Teachers, teacher candidates, members of the Vancouver Morris Men and Tiddley Cove Morris all participated to guide the students to the order of the proceedings. 

            The demonstration was likewise a resounding success as students observably learnt a great deal in the short space of approximately 90 minutes. The Morris dancers disbanded for the day and the teacher candidates led by Susan and Tathali moved on to the UBC Nitobe Garden.

            On reflection, Morris dancing is communal in its very foundation and structure. Pedagogically, it makes for sound community establishment in the school let alone in the classroom where students authentically and vigorously learn in an extremely engaging setting as a group. There is simply no space and time for individual isolationists given the total involvement and engagement of Morris dancing and therefore of absolutely everyone in attendance. Inclusive modified learning to involve and suit the learning needs of all students is integral in view of the participatory nature of the Morris activities. Those students who felt uneasy in joining in were literally hand held by their classmates into participating and following along. The fact that not everyone got the moves and directions accurately was not important. The essential piece was that all students participated. Those that understood led those that were trying to understand. Even if they didn’t understand, they followed along by example and learnt, whether it was in the group dances or in the sing-a-long. In the end, it was apparent that all students took away something from the experience, whether it was the songs, the dances, or even the horses that certainly made for long lasting childhood memories. 

            Morris dancing makes for sound support in the core curricula objectives of oral skills, listening comprehension, working in a group, as well as enquiry and critical thinking competencies (taking initiatives to lead others). The Morris demonstration thus addressed the following “Big Ideas" in the new BC Curriculum:

     People understand text differently depending on their worldviews and perspectives.
      Exploring stories and other texts helps us understand ourselves and make connections to others and to the world.
     Questioning what we hear, read, and view contributes to our ability to be educated and engaged citizens.
     Texts are socially, culturally, and historically constructed.
     Language and text can be a source of creativity and joy.

These Big Ideas are in the new English Language Arts curriculum. 



  1. Though I uploaded videos to this blog, they do not play for some technical reason, unfortunately.

  2. Thanks for this lovely blog post, Antony! I hope you are feeling much better after the many medical/ allergic travails you’ve had to cope with this past week.

    1. Thank you so much Susan, for such care and concern. I am indeed feeling much better now and got so much to catch up, beginning with this post. Thank you most kindly for the feedback.

  3. Thank you so much Susan, for such care and concern. I am indeed feeling much better now and got so much to catch up, beginning with this post. Thank you most kindly for the feedback.