Let's get physical

30th May 1997 at 01:00
The presence of physical education in the 5-14 expressive arts reminded a speaker at the arts and education conference (page six) of the need to draw a distinction between dance and sport now that events acceptable to the Olympic games blur the edges.

Ken Robinson, the jovial professor of arts education at Warwick University, said that the test is to ask who won. If you are emerging from Scottish Ballet and have to reply, "I think it was the girl in the pink dress", you have not been to a sport or PE performance.

Repeatedly the conference was reminded that every child is an individual. That goes back to Rousseau, as Paul Dougall, head of applied arts at Strathclyde University, said. But it was well to remember Emile, Rousseau's child of nature. "The trouble for teachers," Dougall said, "is that Emile comes with 26 of his mates."

Lest it be thought that artists and educators turn cynical when seated together, the conference warmed to another apophthegm, from Martin Drury who founded the Ark, Dublin's arts centre for children. His line was that "an eight-year-old is not a quarter of a 32-year-old or a fifth of a 40-year-old. He has only 365 days to be eight and should not be rushed into being nine. "

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