Classroom Drama — A Collaborative and Dialogical Way of Seeking Solutions
Monday, 14 May 2018
More than an art form, drama is a powerful educational tool to help students understand the world. And Yishun Town Secondary School (YTSS) knows its impact on young minds is no make-believe.
Seeking to engage students in a more collaborative and self-directed mode of learning while empowering them with critical 21st century competencies, the school partnered with Ms Jennifer Wong to trial the use of drama as a pedagogical tool to complement its Character and Citizenship Education (CCE) syllabus in 2014.
Thus, the journey of creating and refining a series of lessons intended to explore identity, friendship, bullying and family relationships through drama for secondary one and two classes began.
Teachers believed that there were issues and challenges embedded within these topics that may be explored through the dialogical and multi-modal approach of drama education.
They also felt that using drama as the pedagogy would help students explore different ways of looking at problems and available solutions.
Examining relationships thru play acting
YTSS students were introduced to the fictional characters Jack and Jill through the drama.
During lessons that ran for a hundred minutes each, the students explored problems Jack or Jill encountered as 14-year-olds in situations that mirrored those faced by the young students in their lives.
In one of the drama lessons, the students examined the value of friendship and loyalty.
Jack, the fictional character, had hurt his ankle at football practice but hid it from his coach. He feared that it might cost him the chance to represent his school in the upcoming inter-schools match. Alex, his best friend, was the only one who knew about his injury.
First, the students put themselves in Alex’s shoes and deliberated whether they should inform the coach about Jack’s condition or keep their friends’ confidence.
The situation became even more complicated when it was revealed that Jack’s injury might require surgery, and that there would be dire consequences if he were to continue with football.
Next, the students took on Jack’s role and learned that the coach had caught wind of his injury, upon which he decided to bench Jack at the upcoming match. Nobody knew how the coach found out.
The students performed scenes to show how Jack suspected Alex and what could happen if the boys were to meet then.
During these lessons, the students reflected and debated the dilemmas and conflicts confronting the characters in the drama, digging deep into their experiences, personal values, and perspectives.
After four years of implementing drama as the pedagogical tool in some of its CCE lessons, YTSS received positive feedback from the students.
The secondary students said that they looked forward to the opportunity to dialogue with their peers and share different perspectives about issues that are pertinent in their lives, while enjoying the collaborative mode of learning and creating drama.
Today, four years after it launched the programme, YTSS continues its partnership with Ms Wong, who is now a Visual and Performing Arts lecturer, in exploring a more concerted model of using drama in the CCE classroom.