VIGNETTES SERIES 11
Vignettes 35 – 37
DON’T DISCOUNT DRAMA
Drama is an area often underdone in classrooms. It is generally seen to be a subject that must give way to more important requirements, like getting on with language maths science and other key subjects. Drama is seen as a diversion taking attention away from key learning and conceptual areas.
That this happens it’s a pity. Rather than being an isolated standalone subject, drama can be used to correlate and integrate with other subjects. It can be used to reinforce learning by putting students into a context of acting out situations about which they’ve been learning. It offers a first hand experience rather than being second and third hand. it allows students to engage with and immerse themselves in experiencing what it was really like to be a part of the past
Children love to play and to pretend. To reinforce literature, stories been told, history, even mathematical and scientific concepts through acting them out and in gauging through play can be reinforcing.
Sometimes teachers feel drama is a subject that is below them. They feel embarrassed about the idea of getting involved with students in dramatic play situations. Drama can be a very vibrant and engaging area and for teachers to involve convinces students of the authenticity of Drama as a subject reinforcer. And what’s wrong with teachers having fun in classrooms with students. If they can assume roles outside their skins, this will encourage children to do likewise.
I encourage teachers to integrate Drama into student learning and developmental opportunities. ‘Learning by doing’ (and drama IS doing) is one of the very best methodologies available to educators.
One of the delightful things about teaching and working with children is the quality of imagination they can bring to learning and understanding. I used to say to children in classes, particularly those in the upper primary area, that they had three eyes: Their left eye , right eye, and their “I” For “imagination”) eye. Their “I” eye was in the middle of their foreheads but not visible. Their “I” eye was hidden from view but had the capacity to work hard and to see a lot beneath the surface. Their imagination was something that enabled them to visualise things not necessarily there at the moment. For instance the ability to conjure up pictures in their minds of what was going on in stories, in their understanding of historical facts, their engagement with music, drama, and with core subjects including Literacy and Mathematics.
The use of imagination can make learning a living and vibrant experience because it facilitates engagement. Too often people feel disassociated from what they are doing. They don’t bring imagination into play as they tackle tasks.
As the teacher and in later years as a person who used to work with children in the areas of music, storytelling, and drama I used to encourage them to use imagination to make things real through their engagement with what we were doing and therefore learning outcomes.
Imagination can also be used to help tackle problems and solutions. Often adults find it hard to overcome problems with which they are confronted because they don’t bring imagination into play. Inhibitions come to the fore and make overcoming challenges hard. Children are not confronted by those same obstacles or barriers. It’s for that reason that children often find solutions to problems much easier to reach than do adults. They don’t have the same hangups and worries about their environment as may be be the case for adults.
It is of concern that video games and technological entertainment can diminish imagination for children. Rather than relying upon their imagination and thought processes to reach end points that’s all done for them by games which reward them for no more or less than following the sequence of activities and events by letting their fingers walk around keyboards. While games are part of life they should never be allowed to take over the natural ability of children to immerse themselves in situations and solve problems without assistance.
Imagination is to be encouraged, particularly when it comes to story writing and creation. It’s something I believe we as teachers need to work hard to grow upon our children. Neither does it end with primary school students but extends into the middle and upper school domains.
I believe the teachers who work with children to grow their imaginations also grow their own. Being aware of imagination and its qualities is important. Imagination should not become stunted as people reach from childhood into adult realms. It is critically important as a teaching of development tool.
One of the things that happens all too quickly and easily in classrooms is for student desks or working tables to become untidy. This bad habit applies to students of all ages. It impacts tidy trays and disk storage areas.
One of the things that quickly adds to untidiness are sheets of paper students have completed but which haven’t been filed, glued into scrapbooks or arranged for permanent keeping. They quickly become ratty, crumpled, dog-eared and therefore not worth keeping although they are a record of work.
It is important to encourage children to take pride in their work. One of those pride elements is the way in which work is stored in desks and storage units.
Another thing that often happens is that pencil shavings get left either on the top of the desks, in desk storage areas or on the floor. It’s important to encourage children to sharpen their pencils at the waste bin. The best pencil sharpeners are those that contain the shavings so that they can be periodically emptied into the bin.
Desks and tidy trays can become cruddy, quickly. I believe it is important for teachers to have students go through and tidy their desks at least once a week. It is a habit worth establishing.
When choosing a time to clean desks or desk areas make sure that a time limit is set. It shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes for desks to be given a regulation cleanup and for tidy trays to be fixed. The ideal thing happens when students automatically and by habit keep their desks clean neat and tidy and. To encourage this when students finish work and have five minutes spare, to ask if their desk need attention can be a way of helping to establish that habit.
I’ve heard it said that “cleanliness is next to Godliness”. There is no better way of starting young people who grow to become tomorrows adults into acquiring the tidiness habit than reinforcing it through school. And there is no better place to start than with desk tidiness.