In this monthly column, we speak with a notable member of the mathematics education community about their work and their perspectives on the teaching and learning of mathematics. This month, we had the pleasure of speaking with Malke Rosenfeld.
Malke Rosenfeld is a percussive dance teaching artist, math explorer, math artist, TEDx presenter, author, and editor. Her interdisciplinary inquiry focuses on the intersection between percussive dance and mathematics and how to build meaningful learning experiences at this crossroads. Malke’s interests also include embodied cognition in mathematics learning, task and activity design in a moving math classroom, elementary math education, and writing as a professional development tool. Her teaching and artistic endeavors focus on explorations of the relationship between number, rhythm, constraint, and shape in a variety of modalities. Malke delights in creating rich environments in which children and adults can explore, make, play, and talk math based on their own questions and inclinations.
First things first, thank you for taking the time for this conversation!
For the past decade or so, you have been exploring the relationship between mathematics learning and dance, which has included developing and facilitating a program called Math in Your Feet and, most recently, publishing a book entitled Math on the Move (2016, Heinemann). In most people’s eyes, mathematics and dance are an unlikely pair. So I would like to start by asking: How can the two disciplines inform and complement each other?
Both math and dance are highly creative and expressive human endeavors. Not all of math is danceable and not all dance is mathematical, but there are some really nice overlaps between the two. In particular, the moving body is best positioned to explore and express the verbs of math, literally embodying the mathematical practices. There are also certain math ideas that can literally be put into action. In the early stages of writing my book, I did an experiment with dancers in three dance forms different from mine (hip hop, modern, and belly dance!) to see how/if certain action-oriented math ideas might resonate with the dancers. I also wondered if these ideas could function as choreographic prompts for what is called “movement invention,” and it turned out I was onto something! Continue reading