Original source: http://www.teachhub.com/12-fascinating-ways-use-drama-curriculum

The History of Drama in Education

The use of drama has been used over the course of history from the time of Aristotle, who believed that theatre provided people a way to release emotions, right to the beginning of the progressive movement in education, where emphasis was placed upon “doing” rather than memorizing. Integrating drama helps children in various ways. In this fantastic resource: ‘The Arts as Meaning Makers’, written by Claudia E. Cornett and Katharine L. Smithrim, there are 12 essential points that we strongly agree to be important to consider:

1. Drama is part of real life and prepares students to deal with life’s problems.

Drama simply allows students the opportunity to rehearse roles, further giving form or shape to the individual and personal ideas and feelings they are naturally experiencing. Overall, this allows students to make sense out of their ‘real’ life problems.

2. Drama engages students in creative problem-solving and decision making

Deep experiences through drama guides and supports student’s problem solving skills, while at the same time, works to encourage an increasing awareness in how to solve issues at hand. Instead of school just being a place where students are being taught and told what to think and feel, drama turns this into a deeper experience in thinking, further motivating students to question, respond, and explain what they are feeling and thinking.

3. Drama develops verbal and nonverbal communication

Through different characters, students share the opportunity to expand their problem solving skills both verbally and non-verbally, making room for a sense of creativity. As well, students practice and build upon various communication skills through the use of body language, facial expressions and different voices.

4. Drama can enhance students’ psychological well-being

Under different characters, students can express their true feelings or sense of personality without fear of being judged or criticized. They can work on personal issue or solve personal problems while in character, which can simply help their overall well being. Essentially, what this does is allow students to get things off their mind, further releasing emotion and tension and allowing students to be who they are.

5. Drama develops empathy and new perspectives

Taking on various roles in character allows students to use all senses and characteristics in order to understand the character, as well as, the scenario or story at hand. Learning how to express oneself in different ways and through different means, helps build a strong character and personality.

6. Drama builds cooperation and develops other social skills

Working together as a group promotes, encourages and motivates cooperation. It is essential that each of our students feels accepted and works well with others, in order to create and build a safe environment for all to learn. What drama does is continues to build on this importance. Drama simply brings students together, allowing them to find different characters that best suits them, different roles to express who they are, and different ways to build upon and develop social awareness.

7. Drama increases concentration and comprehension through engagement

Students always learn best when they are engaged and interested, as well as, when they are actively involved. As students are strongly focused and concentrating, their overall understanding simply increases. When we include students in our examples in class, it is more likely that they will grasp the idea more, or make a concrete connection. Drama allows us to do this with our students.

8. Drama helps students consider moral issues and develop values

Drama simply helps students further understand the importance of values they are already aware of, as well as, it guides them in developing and forming additional values. As teachers, it is essential that we allow students the space and opportunity to make this discovery and connection in values and moral issues while they are engaged through drama, rather than impose them.

9. Drama is an alternative way to assess by observing (ex. Externalization)

When teaching new lessons, we always depend on prior knowledge. We start with what students know, which further guides us with the next step to take in our teaching. It is difficult for some of our students to make sense of specific things which is simply where drama fits in. Drama can be used to preview or review a lesson; further allowing teachers to assess what students already know or have learned.

10. Drama is entertaining

Fun is learning, and learning is fun. If we remember this and try to incorporate fun in our teaching, our students will definitely enjoy the learning process. Students enjoy dealing with and discussing real life issues and problems, they like figuring things out, doing interesting things, doing things differently – drama gears towards this and more.

11. Drama contributes to aesthetic development

Through drama, students learn about a number of things such as conflict and characters, which further allows them to deepen their sensory awareness. In addition to, children also learn how to express themselves through various teaching and learning strategies such as dialogue and improvisation.

12. Drama offers a learning avenue that enhances other areas of the curriculum

Drama can be used as a teaching and learning tool to help students make meaning of a number of skills they need to be a well rounded individual. It further allows them to experience and explore the world around them through different characters and roles, further building on their relationship with others and things.