Learning Should be Fun! Drama, Meaningful Education and the New Three “R”s
Learning Should be Fun! Drama, Meaningful Education and the New Three “R”s
California State University, Sacramento, USA
What is the impact of using drama as an instructional technique in conjunction with Bill Daggett’s educational paradigm of rigor, relevance and relationship on the meaning-centered education (MCE) classroom? Drama holds the potential to more accurately explain and present information within a learner’s capacity within Lev Vygotsky’s (1978) principle of the zone of proximal development or the learner’s most advantageous capacity for understanding. The case for face-to-face learning and creating genuine strong bonds is made using David Brooks (2011) research on social learning. This is supported with Bill Daggett’s principles of the three “R”s of education (relationship, relevance, rigor) which will be examined in the context of MCE.
Keywords: drama, meaning-centered education, instruction, social learning
Few would dispute that in order to move towards the 22nd century, we need to educate learners who are creative, innovative and strong critical thinkers. This becomes even more vital given the increasingly dire predictions of the impending global demise- environmentally, economically and some would even urge – socially. Education has been to a large extent, held either mostly, or at least partly, responsible for the demise of the American think tank (Brooks, 2011). Historically much of the focus in our educational institutions has been on the three ‘R’s – Reading, wRiting and aRithmetic. These three skill sets have been systematically standardized and homogenized in order to facilitate easier testing modes. Class time devoted to subjects such as social studies, and science has dwindled while physical education and the fine arts have been marginalized to such extremes that they are difficult to find in many public school districts (Almon, 2009; Azzam, 2007)). Also, there is negligible or no accountability around ensuring that the mandated curriculum for these subjects are implemented appropriately when they are more often than not, squeezed into any leftover and non-prime teaching times such as recess and Friday afternoons.
Using drama as an instructional technique to support MCE will be outlined and supported. Drama naturally requires learners to speak, think, respond, and represent learning in physical, verbal and social ways. It holds the potential to more accurately explain and present information within a learner’s capacity or, in other words, within Vygotsky’s (1978) principle, the zone of proximal development, or the learner’s most advantageous capacity for understanding. In many ways, drama is the optimal MCE teaching strategy and can straddle curriculums seamlessly (Farmer, 2011). For example, in science one can examine how the scientific process may impact individuals and communities and in history and literature, characters can be examined from multiple perspectives via writing, play, and other developmental Drama techniques (Farmer, 2011; Garzitto, 2010).
Additionally, Bill Daggett’s principles of the Three “R”s of education – relationship, relevance and rigor – will be examined in the context of MCE. Educational specialist Bill Daggett was playing football with his grandson and was impressed with his understanding of difficult and complex mathematical concepts. Upon further investigation, Daggett learned that his grandson’s classroom teacher utilized football — a game many of the boys played at recess – to effectively teach math. By making the concepts relevant and utilizing the strong relationship the class already had with the teacher and a football coach, the students were able to internalize and synthesize material that would normally be considered too difficult or beyond the scope of student comprehension. This was the beginning of Daggett’s now recognized principles that continue to evolve and develop today. (For more information seewww.leadered.com/aboutdaggett.html).
In spite of the concerns raised in this article over the race to accumulate the latest, resource depleting technology in the classroom, this article supports and provides balance for the idea that dialogical-based teaching and learning can provide educational benefits for both teachers and students. Drama is one example of how educators could develop and hone in on a skill set that supports this notion of dialogue in education. Although dialogue using technology is gaining traction on global proportions there is a steady and emerging body of research and advocacy for the irreplaceable significance of dialogue using a face to face format.
More recently, a large percentage of education’s (increasingly dwindling) funding has been allocated to the field of technology (Pink, 2006; Robinson, 2006). The cries of we need more computers, more software, better high tech teaching tools has been considered with little or no attention to the actual educational impact of these tools on our ability to think, or read and write better. As a result, school parent advisory committees, school boards and communities have all scrambled to outfit their classrooms in the latest technological gadget of its time (Daggett & Pedinotti; 2005). An example of this is the promethean board – a costly, high tech computerized interactive white board that is a hybrid version of a projector, a white board and a computer. Although the Promethean board has gained popularity in modern classrooms there is no evidence to even suggest that the use of this tool makes us better teachers or produces better thinkers.
So why is it that no one balks at the use of these high priced tech toys when simple, practice based strategies have consistently been demonstrated to produce long-term results (Bolton, 1978; Farmer, 2012). The use of simple, almost rudimentary, back to basics, experiential, body-based teaching practices where students and teachers play and collectively engage in very low tech versions of problem based learning models, drama or storytelling have consistently been utilized as strong teaching practices (Baines, 2007; Yazzi-Mintz, 2006). Using these formats, learners produce different kinds of knowledge, more creative and deeper insights and are more likely to internalize the learning. MCE, with its emphasis on practice, experiential learning and body knowledge has the potential to address many of the issues currently facing education without the heavy price tag associated with current high tech practices finding favor in the schools.
MCE gathers around the premise that we naturally seek a connection, relationship or meaning with content and that this connection serves to intrinsically motivate us in our learning (Brooks, 2011). It is this quest for discovering meaning in our classrooms that propels learners to develop deeper insights and connections and critical thinking, where innovation and creativity develop as a result of this. Find the personal connection to the content from the deliverer of the content (educator) and the student, and you have a formula designed for successful integration of information on a deeper level than one designed to simply get ‘the answer on the test right’.
Author, researcher and reporter Brooks (2011) agrees. Initially drawn to the juxtaposition of the failures he covered as a reporter, Brooks examined what worked and what didn’t work in global reorganizations and conflicts. He observed the reorganization of the Soviet/Russian policy structures, the Iraqi war, and the more recent economic downturn and the education reorganization — and noted that all consistently yielded little or no positive affects with the new research. He concluded “all of the policy failures were based on a false premise of human nature.” Brooks argues that this juxtaposition between problems and how we think we should best handle them in politicized or formal ways negate all of the more recent research that points to a more emotional and affective operations style of management. In a radio interview on his recent book with National Public Radio (NPR) Brooks states,
A more accurate premise of human nature developed by scientists, philosophers, psychologists and researchers is that emotion is more important than reason, people learn from people we love, We are not individuals, we are deeply inter-connected and that most importantly, most of our thinking happens below our level of awareness. Our moral intuition is not based on reason. They are based on our feelings about empathy and fairness. Human nature is based on these social connections, seeing relationships. Often think about individuals instead of relationships. What really matters is how good people are at relating to one another (http://www.npr.org/2011/03/07/134329412/david-brooks-defines-the-new-social-animal).
Additionally, Brooks goes on to talk about the research supporting his claims. Scientists can predict with 77 percent accuracy if an eighteen month old is going to graduate based on their relationship with their mother. Although making predications based on early signs that are determinant of our future can be dangerous, this information does point us in the direction of the impact of supported relationships starting from our first one – with our mothers. We don’t want to infer too much about an eighteen-month and a six year old. Brooks suggest that nobody’s life-course is determined at six years old or 18 months but that pathways are opened early on based on relationships. Many of those subsequent relationships and experiences that are nurtured throughout our lives have the potential to greatly impact our learning, our skill sets and our potential for greatness.
Brooks asserts that groups are much smarter than individuals and that they do well not necessarily as a result of how smart the people are in the group but by how well they signal each other and whether they take turns and collaborate successfully with one other. These factors can predict the success of the group rather than inferring that a group’s successes are the sum of its parts. Our ability to work well in groups and contribute to a larger whole can be more impactful than spending our resources to create individuals.
This is not to argue that there is an “either-or” solution here. Clearly, we need both individual accountability and a focus on personal development in addition to clear, rigorous and thoughtful attention to promote strong group dynamics and co-operative skill sets. Often times, the latter is attributed to personality traits where we now know that learning to see emotional connections, observing signals in social settings and responding appropriately to them are skills that can be taught and practiced. The way we are taught to think about things is often to dissect them and break them down and although this is not a terrible thing, it can be dangerous when used in exclusion to investigate and examine different worldviews and global problems.
The New Three “R’s”
Until you have a relationship with kids you can’t tell what’s relevant for them, and it is relevance that makes rigor possible. (Daggett 2007, p.1)
In response to the widely held precept that Reading, Writing and Arithmetic are the three top tiered, most important subject areas and therefore should dominate the skill sets and curriculum of North American Education, Daggett (2007) developed his own three ‘R’s for education (Daggett, 2005). He started by seeking answers to the question, “Where will I ever use what I am being taught today?” His belief that students must consistently be aware of the answer to this question regarding their learning eventually led to his conclusion that the rigor, relevance and relationship are three basic principles that ultimately develop lifelong learners with critical thinking skills.
Daggett developed the rigor/relevance/relationship framework from 20 years working as a teacher, coach and professor. His practice informed much of his framework but it has been since embraced and utilized successfully by many school districts across America and Europe as well as the Bill and Melinda Gates Education Foundation (Daggett, 2005).
The Rigor/Relevance Framework has four quadrants. Each is labeled with a term that characterizes the learning or student performance at that level.
Figure 1: The Rigor/Relevance Framework
Bloom’s taxonomy is used in conjunction with an application model of graduated application across multiple disciplines (Bloom et. al. 1956; Anderson, & Krathwohl, 2001). The application axis is focused on the action and practice of employing newly learned concepts to one discipline and eventually to more complex and multi-layered scenarios that approximate real world conditions.
Using Daggett’s model of education shifts the classroom teaching practices considerably from the industrialized and homogenized standards based model of education to the heavy reliance on case studies, collaboration, Problem Based Learning (PBL) and practice based applications. Rigorous and relevant education is deemed necessary for both the academic and vocational tracked students and as a result, both types of students become critical thinkers and lifelong learners. In other words, the focus is not on the eventual student learning outcome whether one is on track to become a welder or a lawyer is not relevant. What is consistent is that both learners practice applying their knowledge and evaluative thinking in conjunction with their chosen field.
Figure 2: Framework for Integrating MCE and Daggett’s three R’s
What is missing from Daggett’s framework is the explicit description of relationship. According to Brook’s (2011) research on education– we learn best from relationships where there is a mutual understanding of care, love and appreciation. From this comes a framework in which understanding is defined and included in the paradigm which could be beneficial for teachers and learners alike.
Without dialogue there is no communication, and without communication there can be no true education. (Freire, 1970, p. 83)
The Role of Dialogue in Critical Thinking and Meaning-Centered Education
Kovbasyuk (2011) asserts that dialogue is at the heart of supportive MCE practices but that often what we assume to be dialogue (teachers and students representing ideas and responses) is more appropriately deemed a monologue. Dialogue has at its heart, quality relationships. Mutuality, responsibility, engagement and acceptance are requisite competencies for true dialogue to exist in the MCE classroom (Kovbasyuk; 2011). Here we come full circle back to Brook’s (2011) assertions around relationships and their critical importance to how we can become more effective and efficient learners. I would also add respect and listening to this paradigm as strong relationships are contingent upon this. Dialogue is more than an exchange between two people. When successful, it requires an understanding and respect for both self and for other. The ability to empathize and see diverse points of view from a variety of vantage points in a critical, respectful and generous manner enables learners to dig deeper and explore their own understanding. This exchange helps learners understand their own positions and just as importantly, the positions and views of others. This exchange of diverse views in a personal way is at the heart of MCE – as well as integral to Drama in education (Garzitto, 2011).
In classrooms, where there are thirty or more students, dialogue can be viewed as multi-faceted. Other students witness the exchanges of information and ideas between the teacher and students. Therefore, the witnesses to the dialogue become participants. This happens whether the class is structured into small discussion groups or into one large group discussion. Those who listen to the exchange become part of the exchange (Clapper, 2010; Garzitto, 2011) thus part of the meaning making occurs when engaging in dialogue (Bolton, 1973; Farmer, 2011). This process is more often implied in our classrooms when in reality it requires development and practice as a requisite skill set. Incorporating instructional techniques and strategies to support dialogue, rigor, relationship and relevance in the classroom may serve to support the works of Brooks (2011), Kovbasyuk (2011) and Daggert (2005) and promote into the emerging global future of education.
Using Drama as an Instructional Technique: Application of MCE Principles
Drama, when used as an instructional strategy, can be defined as a variety of techniques that incorporate physical movement, vocal action, role-play, empathy and mental concentration/cognition to promote educational objectives. These objectives can be from one or more of the following domains; cognitive, psychomotor/skill or affective (Garzitto, 2010).
Drama as a teaching strategy should not be confused with Theater with its focus on producing a scripted play and performance (Clapper, 2010; Elkind, 2007; Farmer, 2011). Instead, Drama techniques develop skills required for good theater but ultimately develop evaluative critical thinkers and creativity – outcomes at the top of Bloom’s Hierarchy of Learning Domains (Forehand, 2012). Some of the defined skills necessary for Drama are control, self-esteem, creativity, listening, respect, sharing, vocalization, empathy, character development, vocalization, observation and imitation, spatial awareness, body awareness, strategizing, problem solving, trust, confidence and spontaneity (Bolton, 1978; Clapper, 2010; Garzitto, 2010). Underlying all of these acquired skill sets is the unique and powerful way in which Drama yields community building and strong relationship building. This familial sense of bonding is a highly valued element in the learning environment as it produces risk, confidence and ultimately a higher quality of work/output. The time educators/businesses put into developing community goals which are analogous to core Drama skill sets have increased and been demonstrated to improve productivity (Garzitto, 2011; Hsiah, 2010; Pink, 2007).
The Drama classroom is unique. Like Dance it relies heavily on physical skills and body knowledge and unlike math and history, knowledge is often negotiated and is personal. Gone are the traditional physical and behavioral settings. In fact, one of the first lessons in a Drama class involves eliminating the prevalent parameters of the classroom namely desks and chairs, and creating as much space in the classroom in a quick and orderly manner. Students are required to be vocal, participatory and creative.
As a result, the classes are often noisy and bustling as learners negotiate, pitch, discuss, lead, listen, laugh and argue (Farmer, 2011; Pink, 2006). This shift in academic or classroom paradigms often produces anxiety and discomfort for some teachers, administrators and even students. This is because there are still many for whom good teaching is conceptualized as the “banking” model of teaching described by Friere (1970). Indeed, there are still many classrooms designed for learners to sit down in (mostly uncomfortable and ill fitting) seats, facing the lectern and screen at front of the room, which prompts the learners to, “sit down and shut up.” The design constitutes part of the conditions of discourse (Foucault, 1980; Scott, Mortimer & Aquiar, 2006) set by the dominant agents of education in an oppressive pedagogy, (Friere, 1970). A performance methodology such as Drama threatens and transcends the dominant conventions of oppressive pedagogy and reveals a student’s untapped strengths. It contextualizes learning within real life situations and protocols. It also simulates conditions for a variety of experiences to occur and thereby empowers students to practice potential life skills. (Think of it as a form of operationalized problem based learning/case study approach.)
Drama leads to greater self-esteem and self-efficacy (Baines, 2007; Bolton,1984).The greater the realm of experiences and exposure to like skills or simulated scenarios, the greater the capacity to make connections with new materials. As a teaching methodology, it allows learners to make mistakes, rewrite/recreate history and hypothesize future scenarios (Baker,& Letendre, 2005; Robinson, 2006).
As far as critical thinking is concerned, Drama places many different demands on cognitive functions in addition to emotional engagement of learners. The critical thinking process is made up of affective, behavioral, and cognitive components. ‘Affective components’ are the emotional foundation of thinking that either enables or limits critical thinking by valuing truth above self-interest, accepting changes, emphasizing, welcoming divergent views, tolerating ambiguity, and recognizing personal biases. ‘Behavior components’ are the actions necessary for critical thinking. This can include delayed judgment until enough data is collected or available, using precise terms so that issues are clearly defined; gathering data, distinguishing between fact and opinion, encouraging critical dialogue from and with others, actively listening, modifying judgments in light of new information, and applying knowledge to new situations. ‘Cognitive components’ are the thought processes involved in critical thinking; such as thinking independently, defining problems accurately, analyzing data for value and content, using logic to solve problems, synthesizing, overgeneralization, and applying matacognitive skills (Garzitto, 2011; Huffman, 1997).
Social interactions and feedback occur through the conceptual understanding that drama begins with meaningful communication. Vygotsky (1978) believed that the interactions between socializing and meaningful communication are deemed necessary for internalizing new knowledge (Huffman, 1997; McMaster, 1998). It is in this manner that drama enhances personal development as well. Where dramatic play contributes to a student’s emotional engagement, using drama as an instructional technique develops and/or improves students’ critical analysis and creativity. It aids students in moving from a superficial response to texts and situations to a deeper and more developed ability to think critically (Huffman, 1997).
Drama and the Brain
Creativity requires both the right and left part of the brains. We used to think creativity was relegated to only the right hemisphere but research in neuroscience points us in a different direction. When looking for possible solutions to a problem, creativity first begins in the left side of the brain as it starts looking for answers or possible solutions and then moves over to the right side where both parts of the brain work together to look for additional possible outcomes (Gordon et. al. 2003; Goswami, 2006).
In the brain, neural networks on the right side inspect memory and anything else that could be somehow connected to a possible solution. The left and right sides alternately and in conjunction work together, focusing closely and at a distance. The brain is busy and active in both hemispheres working to recognize patterns, abstractions and alternative meanings. Creative thought occurs when the brain is able to quickly draw insights from both sides into one single coalescing ‘eureka’ moment (Gordon et. al. 2003, Goswami, 2006).
It doesn’t stop here however. The brain continues to evaluate whether the idea is one worth pursuing or not. A creative brain in the one that draws actively from both sides of the brain and is able to focus and de-focus using convergent and divergent thoughts in rapid succession. The creative brain is active on both sides. Although some people are thought to be naturally gifted, creativity can also be developed. In other words, it is teachable and learnable. A prerequisite of creativity is the ability to produce as many different answers to a question that you can. This takes practice. We often focus on getting just the right one answer so that requiring that we produce as many as we can, often disrupts the normally held assumptions and practices of thinking (Greenough & Black, 1992; Garzitto, 2010; Goswami, 2006).
Pink’s (2006) work on creativity, the brain and critical thinking adds to the previous discourse around left and right brain thinking. He notes that left-hemisphere tasks: logical, linear, sequential, and analytical thinking were once skills-in-demand in the business world where as right-hemisphere tasks: artistic, empathy, synthesis vs. analysis, big-picture, context vs. text abilities are now considered the first among equals in the business world. They are as important in effective collaboration, design, and advertising; positively contributing to business margins and profits. He reported that what matters most in today’s economy are high-concept and high-touch abilities, not high tech; novelty or nuance, not routines and right answers; and ‘persistency’. An individual with moderate abilities and a high level of persistence can accomplish a great deal compared to the individual with well-developed abilities and low persistence.
Pink claims that smart individuals and businesses today rely upon six primary abilities: (1) becoming literate in design; (2) being able to tell a compelling story; (3) creating a symphony out of seeing the big-picture, detecting patterns, and combining things into something the world did not realize was missing; (4) having and expressing empathy; (5) playing together through laughter, a sense of humor, the spirit of playfulness or games; and (6) establishing purpose or meaning in what is done or produced; successful businesses have found a way to link purpose with profit (Goswami, 2006). The very nature of ‘dramatic play’ and ‘planned drama’ offers opportunities for individuals to develop the six abilities. Pink suggests matter most in today’s business world as well as contributes to personal success. The thought that these are also fundamentally human abilities; are muscles that, perhaps, have atrophied and are in need of development; are activities individuals may engage in out of a sense of intrinsic motivation for the joy and challenge of the task itself could also positively affect the classroom teacher’s challenge in motivating students and eliciting student engagement. In his research, Pink learned that success, satisfaction, and subjective well-being is measured on an individual’s ability to: believe in something bigger than oneself, have close relations, do meaningful work, and earn a moderate income.
Therefore, if the economy is moving away from routine and correct answers, as Pink suggests, than traditional educational models consisting of standardized tests may not be properly preparing our students for the business world they will inherit. They may instead only be developing left-brain abilities. One hemisphere without the other is inferior and does not tap into a person’s potential. We need both sides of the brain and bodies to meet the needs of the future. Utilizing Drama as an instructional strategy in our education practices addresses Pink’s thesis of training learners to produce innovative and meaningful outcomes.
Hoetker (1969) argued that drama increased creativity, originality, sensitivity, fluency, flexibility, emotional stability, cooperation, and examination of moral attitudes; as well as contributed to the development of communication skills and appreciation of literature. He described drama as an effective method of: accommodating students whose learning styles are visual or kinesthetic; teaching critical skills; and producing aesthetic experiences with literature. McMaster (1998) developed nine efficacy areas for Drama in Education. They are:
- Students develop affect through drama. Drama creates motivation for students to participate and facilitates students’ responses in reading instruction.
- Dramatization is a source of scaffolding for emergent readers by providing rich background experiences for future reading.
- Dramatization leads students to develop symbolic representation, which is the same concept children require in order to understand the alphabetic principle.
- Dramatic activities provide students a meaningful environment where they can practice oral reading repeatedly to develop fluency.
- New vocabularies presented in dramatic context provide students opportunities to acquire meanings visually, orally, and kinesthetically.
- Drama helps students acquire the knowledge of word order, phrasing, and punctuation that contribute to the meaning of a written sentence.
- Drama activities help students read different forms of discourse, especially in familiarizing children with nonfiction.
- Students monitor their own comprehension in drama and develop effective reading strategies.
- Teachers can use drama as an assessment tool since it provides immediate feedback about students’ understanding of new reading materials.
Figure 3: Drama in Education
How will this help with globally changing environments?
Ensuring that education is meaningful can impact not only our personal worlds, but our public and environmental worlds as well. Drama not only relies on the ability of the learner to make sense of the world through their own experiences but through a conceptualized reorganization of the relationship of their position as it relates to others or the assigned task. This is the heart of Dorothy Heathcote’s work. An example of Heathcote’s practice is captured in a 1971 British Broadcasting Channel (BBC) documentary entitled, Three Looms Waiting. Here is the link of that documentary http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f5jBNIEQrZs.
Thinking outside of a school context, there are examples of successful businesses that are currently working on analogous models of operation where the focus is on relationship, group culture and customer service. Tony Hsieh is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of zappos.com – an online shoe and clothing retailer. He is also the author of, Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose (2011) where he chronicles the evolution of his trail blazing business philosophy and companies’ success story. Over time, Hsieh developed a set of company core values. He did this in collaboration with all of the Zappos staff. Here are the core values as viewed on the company’s website: http://about.zappos.com/jobs/why-work-zappos/core-values
- Deliver Wow through Service – differentiate yourself by doing things in an unconventional way and create an emotional impact on others.
- Embrace and Drive Change – expect and embrace constant change.
- Create Fun and a little weirdness – “being a little weird requires being a little innovative”. Embrace the unusual.
- Be adventurous, creative and open minded – Don’t be afraid to make mistakes and trust your gut instincts.
- Pursue Growth and Learning – understand that there is more potential in yourself than you realize.
- Build open and honest relationships with communication – “At the end of the day, it’s not what we say or do but how we make people feel that matters the most.”
- Build a positive team and family spirit – “We work together and play together, because our bonds go beyond the typical co-worker relationship.”
- Do more with less – Be creative and work to get more with less resources.
- Be passionate and determined – Have a positive and optimistic outlook and inspire those around you.
- Be humble – “We believe in a quiet confidence, as in the long run our character will speak for itself.”
What is striking about these core values is that they incorporate the educational tenants covered in this chapter and move them into a global and corporate context. It would be interesting to experiment with Zappos’ core values and implement them in an educational setting. What would happen if we used these core values to frame an entire school culture?
Using Drama as an instructional strategy holds the potential to address many of the perceived needs of the twenty second century. Making meaning relevant and creating numerous opportunities to practice and to forge strong, healthy relationships are two requisite variables to support innovation, creativity and critical thinking in quality environments. This is not just relegated to educational contexts as more and more large companies are discovering the economic and corporate benefits of establishing strong personal and public cultures that support community relationships.
This chapter can be summarized as follows:
- The reality of education is that people learn from people we love.
- Historically much of the focus in our educational institutions has been on the three ‘R’s- Reading, Writing and Arithmetic.
- MCE, with its emphasis on practice, experiential learning and body knowledge has the potential to address many of the issues currently facing education without the heavy price tag associated with current high tech practices finding favor in the schools.
- Scientists can predict with 77 percent accuracy if an eighteen month old is going to graduate based on their relationship with their mother.
- Dr. Bill Daggett developed his own three ‘R’s for education – relationship, relevance and rigor.
- The Rigor/Relevance Framework has four quadrants. Each is labeled with a term that characterizes the learning or student performance at that level – assimilation, adaptation, acquisition and application.
- Using Daggett’s model of education shifts the classroom teaching practices considerably from the industrialized and homogenized standards based model of education to the heavy reliance on case studies, collaboration, Problem Based Learning (PBL) and practice based applications.
- Drama- when used as an instructional strategy can be defined as a variety of techniques that incorporate physical movement, vocal action, role play, empathy and mental concentration/cognition to promote educational objectives.
- Drama as a teaching strategy should not be confused with Theater with its focus on producing a scripted play and performance.
- Instead, Drama techniques develop skills required for good theater but ultimately develop evaluative critical thinkers and creativity.
- Olga Kovbasyuk asserts that dialogue is central and at the heart of supportive MCE practices but that often what we assume to be dialogue (teachers and students representing ideas and responses) are more appropriately deemed monologues.
- Dialogue has at its heart, quality relationships. Mutuality, responsibility, engagement and acceptance are requisite competencies for true dialogue to exist in the MCE classroom.
- As far as critical thinking is concerned, Drama places many different demands on cognitive functions in addition to emotional engagement of learners.
- According to Daniel Pink, an individual with moderate abilities and a high level of persistence can accomplish a great deal compared to the individual with well-developed abilities and low persistence.
- Hoetker (1969) argued that drama increased creativity, originality, sensitivity, fluency, flexibility, emotional stability, cooperation, and examination of moral attitudes; as well as contributed to the development of communication skills and appreciation of literature.
- Hoetker described drama as an effective method of: accommodating students whose learning styles are visual or kinesthetic; teaching critical skills; and producing aesthetic experiences with literature.
- Zappos is an example of a successful businesses that utilizes an educationally analogous model of operation where the focus is on relationship, group culture and customer service.
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About the Author
Dr. Elisa Michals is the founder and co-director of Micro-Summits and is a professor in the College of Education at Sacramento State University, USA. She is the author of two books, 101 Ways to Change the World- Lessons in Creativity, Innovation and Critical Thinking and Going Deep, Critical Thinking across the Curriculum from Kendall Hunt Publishing. Her research includes:
- Finding the wisdom of play in the workplace
- Supporting environments for creativity and innovation.
- Leaders Play- Increasing productivity and getting the most out of your practice.
- Increasing language acquisition in the diverse classroom using play
- Integrating Physical Knowing, Narratives and Action in the Classroom
- Telling stories in the classroom- Lost opportunities for increasing language acquisition and test scores
This article was accepted for publication after a double-blind peer review process. Receiving Editor: Patrick Blessinger, St. John’s University, New York City, USA.
Garzitto-Michals, E. (2012). Learning Should be Fun! Drama, Meaningful Education and the New Three “R”s. The Journal of Meaning-Centered Education. Volume 1, Article 1, http://www.meaningcentered.org/2012/10/22/learning-should-be-fun-drama-meaningful-education-and-the-new-three-rs
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