What is the importance of teaching theatre as a subject in education, how it helps students - Hindustan Times
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What is the importance of teaching theatre as a subject in education, how it helps students

By, New Delhi
May 24, 2024 04:49 PM IST

The significance of Theatre or Drama as a subject in any educational system cannot be overstated.

The significance of Theatre or Drama as a subject in any educational system cannot be overstated. It is sadly often overlooked or seen as an “easy” option or somehow less valid than other subjects.

The telling of stories and sharing of human experience is timeless and the impact that exploring theatre can have on young people is immense.
The telling of stories and sharing of human experience is timeless and the impact that exploring theatre can have on young people is immense.

However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Historically, Theatre has always been an essential part of every culture. The telling of stories and sharing of human experience is timeless and the impact that exploring theatre can have on young people is immense.

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Through Theatre, students can understand different cultures, perspectives, and human relationships in a unique and unparalleled manner. They gain insight into human motivations, which helps them become more empathetic and mindful.

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Theatre isn't just about studying plays; by devising Theatre around a theme or a topic, students can develop their creative thinking skills and share their understanding of important global issues.

In the International Baccalaureate Diploma (IB) programme, Theatre students extensively research world Theatre traditions and give presentations and demonstrations of their chosen traditions. Not only does this develop their knowledge but also their research skills.

While students might not need to apply knowledge of a theatre tradition in their chosen careers, these skills will set them apart from other candidates; this is the core of Theatre in Education. Along with these skills, teamwork, empathy, creative thinking and a fundamental understanding of humanity are all enhanced by the study of Theatre. Studies have shown that students who study Theatre have improved literacy and communication skills.

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Additionally, Drama can serve as a valuable learning tool across various subjects. Recently, my twelve-year-old daughter explored the COVID-19 pandemic and its parallels and contrasts with the 14th-century European Black Death. Her class demonstrated their comprehension through Drama, performing a brief play based on their findings. This method provided an effective and engaging way to assess their knowledge.

Teachers frequently incorporate Drama into their teaching, such as language teachers using role play, literature teachers employing a technique called "hot seating" to assess a student’s understanding of a character, and Science teachers having students physically demonstrate how planets orbit the sun. Drama can be an effective teaching tool across all subjects, serving both as an assessment method and a means of learning. It is fun, creative and highly engaging for the students.

Often in schools, Drama is an extracurricular activity that allows students the opportunity to collaborate with other students from different grades and get to know each other. The development of social skills and interpersonal skills is evident and can have a life-changing impact on them. The growth in confidence and self-assurance that this experience can bring spills over to other aspects of their lives and parents often share stories of the positive change they see in their children after being involved in school productions.

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Theatre in education should be valued so much more than it is currently. Whether as a subject discipline or a creative teaching tool, Drama should be an essential part of all educational institutions.

(Authored by Jennifer Browne, IB Diploma Coordinator & Drama Teacher at Stonehill International School, Bangalore. Views are personal)

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