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To Be or Not To Be (Bored in Math Class): How to Use Drama to Teach Literally Everything Else

by Kalyl Kadri

High School was goddamn difficult for me, not only because of the daily bullying that would’ve put a noose around anyone’s neck, but also because most of my teachers were old, bitter, unexciting people with zero creativity and barely any will to impart knowledge (besides my biology teacher, Mrs. Nahhas- here’s a shout out to you!).

Putting art and music classes aside, teaching approaches back in the day were not as creative as they are today. Nor did they cater to students of multiple intelligences or varied learning abilities that are more receptive to different teaching techniques. Today we know that not everyone is a math genius (especially not me), and thats ok. 

Nowadays we see approaches to education evolving and forming things like the “Primary Shakespeare Company” in the UK. A Shakespeare play is divided into sections and split up among the participating schools. The students then spend the semester working on performing their section of the play while simultaneously using the themes of the story to learn literacy, maths, science, design, and technology. Finally, all school groups gather at the end of the year and each perform their section of the play, resulting in a full performance of a Shakespeare classic. Instead of final exams (which sometimes put students under unmanageable stress) you end up with an entire cross-school production to test your knowledge.

How is this helpful in any way, you might ask? Well, theatre requires all students to be focused and engaged the entire time. Everyone has a specific role that is crucial to the development of the story. This helps give students that don’t feel connected to the rest of the class or singled out an opportunity to thrive.

For example, if I am teaching my students about subtraction through Macbeth, we would reenact the battle scene and at the end ask “How many soldiers were on each side? How many were left after the fight?” Instead of sitting at their desks at the back of the class, desperately trying to focus, students would be on their feet, having fun play-fighting and ultimately learning math without even realising what is happening.

For science class: assigning each student a part of the cell and having them function together. “Frankie, you be the mitochondria- the cell’s powerhouse. Run on the spot! Sari,  hold hands with everyone and make a circle around the other parts. You’re going to be the cell wall- make sure to not let any invaders in! Ryan, you get to be the nucleus- stand just here in the middle and hold onto all of this genetic material. Kay, you can be a vacuole. Take all this food, water, sugar, minerals, and waste products and hold on to them!”

Already infinitely better than a diagram that needs to be labeled, no?

The age of technology and information is making it virtually impossible for kids to sit still on a desk for 7 hours, only engaged if the teacher calls on them for an answer. The current education system does not take into consideration that every pupil functions and processes differently, and thus needs specially orchestrated attention. Notice that this is the same in the case of a director when dealing with actors.

We function differently than people 100 years ago did, and it seems counterproductive to still be using archaic educational systems that were around during World War 1 and catered to a completely different human experience. 

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