A Radical Curriculum
The Oakland Herald Tribune: Unusual Showcase Melds Art and Science of Body
Seven Principles Guiding Learning Outcomes at Moving On Center
The Educational Mission of Moving on Center: A Radical Curriculum
By Martha Eddy
(Excerpted from a Larger Document)
The curriculum at Moving On Center -- The School of Participatory Arts and Somatic Research is as radical as our desire to share these skills and ideas across class and racial boundaries and to learn from a rich multi-cultural interaction. The methods of teaching reflect our values wherever possible. The curriculum is organized around:
1. The power of dance/movement to address the systemic imbalance of human health in a culture of consumerism (e.g., bringing people into their experience in the present; gaining satisfaction through positive experiences and interactions with people and the arts vs. with things; countering technological bombardment.) Concrete knowledge about the body and the use of the body in daily life is taught. Other goals include increasing appreciation of other individuals and cultures, as well as bringing awareness to social concerns -- especially feminist issues -- dealing with pregnancy and choices about continuing or ending new life, issues of sexuality, new views of economics when devoted to dance/arts, concerns about the value of dance in our society, and in turn the way in which the body and related issues such as children and healthcare are bureaucratized. In dealing with these issues we agree with Maxine Greene -- if art emerges out of "dread" it leads more directly to developing new and better images of reality, and hence toward collectivity/unity. We teach this vs. "being a fashionable arts consumer." (Greene, 1996) and with Yolanda King - "keep the outrage but get rid of the rage."(King 1997) (see nonviolence below).
2. Somatic theory -- addresses the idea that each person has his or her own active intelligence. It is an approach to body-mind awareness that allows the emergence of each person's own sense of self and of what is right environmentally, often eliciting a desire for environmental and interpersonal change toward unity, and concern for the earth (see articles by Don Johnson, Tom Hanna in our reader). Basic universal spiritual values also may emerge. The practice of authentic movement, Body-Mind Centering and Vocal motion are among our primary in-roads to somatic discovery. Once people make personal somatic breakthroughs they often become more sensitive to large group issues. The awareness of self, given the right context and direction, provides inspiration to open to community level issues. The focus of our school is to identify what systemic imbalances are causing personal suffering and then to take action around them (e.g., physical organic imbalances often relate to nutritional deficiencies which in turn relate to larger issues of commercialism, agribusiness etc.).
3. Participatory arts -- aims to teach performers and audiences, movement therapists and clients to engage in the creative process actively, without hierarchy. Moving On Center perceives knowledge as power. We accept all applicants who are ready for an intensive community experience. Embodiment is also a tool of empowerment. We intend to share live art and somatic information experientially as inroads to guiding life choices. Participants are all equal, sharing responsibilities and ideas. No one person is given the limelight, countering the "stardom" atmosphere rampant in the arts. Our performances engage the audience; our healing sessions are a shared period of discovery between client and therapist. Everyone brings his or her own somatic intelligence to the exploration.
4. Improvisation as a life skill. Mary Catherine Bateson, daughter of Margaret Mead writes "Today the materials and skills from which a life is composed are no longer clear. It is no longer possible to follow the paths of previous generations. This is true for both men and women, but it is especially true for women, whose whole lives no longer need be dominated by the rhythms of procreation and the dependencies that these created, but who still must live with the discontinuities of female biology and still must balance conflicting demands. For many years I have been interested in the arts of improvisation, which involve recombining partly familiar materials in new ways, often in ways especially sensitive to context, interaction, and response." As we teach skills of improvisation we find we are helping men and women to be more fluent and at-ease in a culture of disruption; we are providing skills for leadership in the change process. Irmgard Bartenieff whose work we also teach saw movement as a way to adapt to and seeks adaptations of the environment (Bartenieff, 1980).
5. Addressing themes of cultural location; locating our cultural influences through our bodies; making physical statements consciously or unconsciously (e.g., performances, non-verbal communication etc.); serves as a way to uncover racism, conflicts based on mis-communications, and/or new sources of community.
6. Non-violence as a theme for approaching change is introduced as a key principle in our counseling training in HAKOMI body-centered psychotherapy. It is reinforced by classes in Authentic Movement and through group problem-solving using conflict resolution. As of yet civil disobedience has not been enacted by groups from our school however the notion of performance art as an act of civil disobedience is discussed.
We value connections and interaction with other groups and individuals in the development of our social change mission.
Training in somatic movement work has traditionally only been shared in privileged circles. MOC attempts to bring this work to a full range of people of all class, cultural, and racial backgrounds with the hope that each person will become a leader in sharing body-mind integration with ever widening circles of people. One specific intent is to guide youth and adults to reclaim their body wisdom in order to make healthy, creative, and enlivening choices. MOC scholarship recipients and other graduates aim to be sensitive to and highlight the relationship between somatic experience and social concerns, publicly through movement therapy, education, and art making.
These goals can begin to be observed in the following ways:
- The choice to be located at the Alice Arts Center in downtown Oakland is a critical piece in helping this come to fruition. The center is a community center for the arts managed by a team of African-American men and women. It houses dance, theatre and music groups of diverse ethnic and racial background. In our day-to-day sharing of space we are in constant dialogue regarding needs and differences that teach all involved about multi-cultural participation.
- The types of internships our students seek out and participate in range from work in hospices, AIDS clinics, theatres, children's museums, working with women with breast cancer, centers for children with disabilities etc. We have established the possibility of future internships in Somatics with Victims of Torture sponsored by CIIS.
- A community "bodywork clinic" offering free sessions to the local community at the Alice Arts Center.
- New allegiances/support: advisory council member -- Maxine Greene and work with Joi Gresham of Leslie College, The Dance and Culture Project.
- Moving on Center has developed two readers (a collection of articles) and a library with many unique resources addressing many of the above themes. These have been available to our students as well as other inquiring individuals.
- Through our Scholarship for Social Change we work to include more and more people of color and those people who are dedicated to sharing this work in underserved areas of the United States. Through our work exchange program students from diverse class backgrounds are able to participate both in workshops and the full-time program.
What Is Alternative or "Non-Traditional" Education?
Excerpted from the Introduction of The Alternative Guide to College Degrees & Non-Traditional Higher
Education by John B. Bear, Ph.D. Published by the Stonesong Press, a division of Grosset & Dunlap, Inc., 1980.
A few years ago, if you lived in the United States and wanted to earn a college degree-a bachelor's, master's, or doctorate-you really had only one alternative: Go to a campus, take class after class, year after year, until you had completed enough units for the degree. Normally this used to take four years for a bachelor's degree, one or two more for a master's degree, and two or three years beyond that for a doctorate.
There has truly been a revolution in higher education in America since 1970. The essence of this revolution can be summarized in a single sentence: Instead of getting credit (and degrees) for the classes you have taken, you can get credit (and degrees) for what you know, regardless of how or where you learned it.
The Comparative Argument for Alternative Education
Traditional education awards degrees based on the time served and the credits earned.
Alternative education awards degrees based on demonstrated competencies and skills.
Traditional education bases degree requirements on the medieval concept of some "liberal" education and some specialized education.
Alternative education bases degree requirements on an agreement between student and faculty designed to help the student achieve his or her career and personal goals.
Traditional education considers the years from eighteen to twenty-two as the optimum time for attending college.
Alternative education assumes that learning is desirable throughout life, and degrees should be available at any age.
Traditional education views faculty as transmitters of knowledge and information.
Alternative education views faculty as counselors who help students learn how to learn.
Traditional education aims at producing a well educated "finished product" ready to enter the job market or graduate school.
Alternative education aims at producing lifelong learners, capable of change and responding through life to their own evolving needs and those of society.
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Unusual Showcase Melds Art and Science of Body
The Oakland Tribune: Local News, Monday June 2, 1997
By Alicia Gooden
Oakland - Ballet dancers, hip-hop jazz ensembles and poets were part of Sunday's Dance on the Edge of Water Festival at Jack London Square.
The eclectic outdoor festival was presented by Moving On Center, An Oakland school of Participatory Arts and research. School officials say its goal is to "fuse the performing arts with the most recent developments in body sciences."
"With our performances, we expect the audience to participate to reap the full benefits of what we do," said Tania Llambelis, festival coordinator.
And participation is what they got.
"This is so much fun," said Nadia Alex, an audience member who was brave enough to be enticed on stage to dance during one the jazz performances. "It's not like regular concerts or events that hold you back and won't let you enjoy yourself."
Center executive director Carol Swann said the festival was aimed at showing "the community how to love their bodies and take care of them while appreciating the performing arts. We not only teach our students to dance, we show them how to be health care providers and practitioners."
The center's curriculum is focused around holistic and alternative health regimens.
"We believe dancers know their bodies so we not only focus on dance movements but things such as somatics, kinetics and massage therapy," she said. "All these things play a big part in the holistic health of a human being."
The festival included free massages, dance improvisation and somatics - movement that heals the body and the soul.
"The dance improvs allow the dancers to feed off one another's energies," Swann explained.
"We wanted to get performers together from different types of ethnic and dance backgrounds and show people that there is more than just one way of doing things. I think we've done that, by looking at the crowd," she said.
"There are people here who might not have otherwise seen the Oakland Ballet, heard Jungle Biscuit perform hip-hop jazz, or receive a massage if we had not put this festival together," said Swann.
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Guiding Learning Outcomes at Moving On Center
(Developed by Martha Eddy, Carol Swann and Jon Weaver)
1. Stay present even while experiencing challenging states of consciousness.
2. Be able to choose different states of mind when you want to (e.g., being able to shift from rage to dialogue).
3. Practice using an improvisational mind (e.g., skillful in making facile transitions).
4. Provide service and consider ways to change inequities and imbalances.
5. Find gratitude: credit one's heritage and roots of knowledge, honoring important events and people.
6. Acknowledge the body as part of the larger body (e.g., the body politic, the earth, the universe etc.).
7. Use multi-modal communication skills (e.g., body language, intellect, sweat, emotional intelligence) with personal integrity.
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