The article is an attempt to answer the question: How is drama becoming an effective way to acquire skills in distinguishing good from evil and how can it serve prophylactic functions for students of primary school grades 1-3?
The theoretical part defines the notion of drama (according to Anna Dziedzic), outlines the suggestions of the authors of the new core curriculum of kindergarten education and early school education.
The practical part contains, among others, examples of various drama techniques (e.g. improvisations) that could help students in developing appropriate attitudes.
Drama in early school education
In the most advanced concepts of teaching and education, the role of full participation of the student in the didactic process is very firmly stressed. The important role of feelings in shaping students’ attitudes and beliefs is indicated. It is assumed that the process of knowledge assimilation and development of students’ attitudes (namely their feelings, thoughts, behaviour) should be accompanied by emotional involvement. It is necessary to abandon apriorism and schematism in education of young recipients of culture in schools and replace it with providing the student with emotions and experiences. As a consequence, the traditional teaching methods should be limited and replaced with less conventional methods, the so-called activating methods. Such a function in teaching various subjects (also in early school education) may be fulfilled, among others, by drama.
Anna Dziedzic defines drama as «a type of activities, in which a problem is solved (learning) by participation in dramatic fiction, usually improvised. An educator defines a problem (subject) to be solved, the students try to solve it (learn) using the drama methods chosen by the educator. The teacher comes up with a dramatic fiction (creates the plot), and the students fill it out with their visions of the world.»[ 1. p. 5].
The authors of the new core curriculum [ 2. p. 41] allow a teacher to use the drama method, since under Polish language education for grade 1 of primary school, they included the following as the most important skills acquired by the student with regard to speaking in small dramatic forms:
— participation in drama plays, illustrating the behaviour of a literary or imaginary protagonist with mimics, gestures, movement;
— understanding the conceptual meaning of props and using props in the played scene;
— reproducing texts written for children from memory, e.g. poems, songs, prose fragments.
They also emphasise that «In the general objectives of early school education, the significance and the need to ensure good education of students is emphasised, so that they could distinguish good from evil and chose the good.» [3. p. 63].
The technique and the problem
As it has been rightly noticed by A. Dziedzic: «drama is, above all, a method of comprehensive development of personality and improvement in interpersonal communication skills. It is a method of moral education.” [ 4. p. 9].
Drama techniques (for example: typical roles – role playing, interviews, improvisations) allow for unleashing students’ pro-activity, applying the acquired knowledge in arranged situations [ Drama is based on taking on a role and enacting specific situations], also during a discussion. Strategies are the ways for a drama teacher to achieve the goal of the classes.
Halina Machulska emphasises that «Education using drama begins with something that pulls us (humans) into playing an active role in the situation (initial event), in which the attitudes rather than the protagonists are the most important, in which some discoveries are made at a given time, and which, finally, are governed by certain method rules.» [ 5. p. 7].
Drama can be a tool for a teacher in early school education, since it makes it possible to show children’s problems in a creative way, indicates the ways to solve them and helps to see others in various situations.
The students improvise solving problems concerning social coexistence, express their views and feelings. An example of the above may be an improvised scene related to overcoming the fear of not being accepted by the peers.
The initial situation:
A group of boys is going out to watch a game. Maciek wants to join them, but is scared that the boys will not want to accept him into the group. Despite his concerns, he insists on joining them in their outing.
The teacher: show, in an improvised scene, what would need to happen for the group to accept him. What should the boy do to be accepted into the group?
After watching presented scenes, the teacher may suggest students to meet with one of the scene’s protagonists, Maciek. The student that plays the role of Maciek answers the questions of his peers («interview technique»):
— What did you feel when your friends, despite your insistence, did not want to take you with them to the game?
— How do you justify the behaviour of your friends?
— What does friendship mean to you?
— What would you need to do to deserve approval of your peers?
The form of an interview is conditional on the content of the scene. During the interview, psychological portrait of the scene’s protagonist is being detailed. During a mini-discussion, the students discover the motives and reasons for the actions of the presented characters.
An improvised scene, the goal of which is to develop in third grade students of primary school the ability of perform tasks and distinguish good from evil on their own (on the example of the fable written by S. Trembecki Myszka, kot i kogut).
The students, who want to take part in the scene, take on (play) the roles of the fable’s characters: the mouse, the cat and the rooster. Other participants should name and justify the animals’ characteristics.
the mouse – naive, lacks life experience, judges others based on appearance, makes rash judgments,
the cat – seemingly (pretends to be) polite, false friendship, pretends to be nice,
the rooster – noisy, seemingly dangerous.
The teacher: are these the actual characteristics the aforementioned animals? (The author gives them human characteristics, because in this way, he wants to show the truth about human nature, a general truth about life). The students, by referring to their own observations, provide examples of contemporary behaviours of their peers in school and in the playground, which confirm the accuracy of the author’s observations with regard to characteristics and attitudes of people presented in the scenes.
Later, the students have to decide whether the young mouse was right in its judgment of the fable’s characters (i.e. the rooster and the cat).
The teacher: Every fable has a moral. What is the message of the fable we learned during today’s lesson? Who utters the main idea of the moral?
The moral was expressed by the mother: evil is not always ugly, it often takes on pleasing forms, often tempts. The adventure of the young mouse illustrates the truth that appearances are deceiving and that not everything that makes a good first impression, is truly good.
Mini-discussion: An attempt to answer the teacher’s question: which of the fable’s characters best reflects you? How do you want to change?
The teacher may suggest to the students doing the following homework: write a proverb, where the main character is an animal.
An improvised scene («taken» from real life), the goal of which is to make the young students sensitive to the selected universal values, important in their functioning both in school, as well as at home.
The teacher re-tells a story of their friend, who witnessed the following event: At the entrance to the school, he noticed a drug dealer smiling at children and offering them candy.
The students, who want to take part in the scene should enact the presented situation, while other students act as witnesses and discuss the scene.
Mini-discussion: in your opinion, what attitude should you assume towards strangers, even if they seem to be nice and friendly?
The teacher: a piece of candy is not always truly a piece of candy; it may contain harmful substances. Someone who seems to be a good person, gives us gifts, smiles at us, seems to be nice and friendly, in reality is not necessarily a good person – he/she may even be a very bad person.
Drama may not only introduce students to the world of values, but may also serve a preventive function. It gives the child a sense of connection with the peers, makes the child sensitive to problems of others, helps notice ethical problems, teaches to explore own creative capabilities. Some drama techniques, for example improvised scenes or the interview technique, help young students experience some events or relations, experience something new. Consequently, the students learn about consequences, truths and proper life attitudes without any possible painful experiences. The purpose of drama is to develop positive emotions, which are formed thanks to an individual identifying with a certain group, e.g. a group of peers.
- Dziedzic A. (1988), Drama w kształceniu i wychowaniu młodzieży, Centralny Ośrodek Metodyki Upowszechniania Kultury, Warszawa, p. 41.
- Podstawa programowa z komentarzami (23 December 2008), vol. 1: Edukacja przedszkolna i wczesnoszkolna. Regulation of the Minister of Public Education of, Journal of Laws, No. 4, item 17, p. 72.
- Dziedzic A. (1999), Drama a wychowanie, Centralny Ośrodek Doskonalenia Nauczycieli, Warszawa, p. 118.
- Machulska H. (1992), Środki teatralne w procesie nauczania i wychowania. “Drama”, vol. 2.[schema type=»book» name=»DRAMA IN THE EDUCATIONAL WORK OF A TEACHER IN EARLY SCHOOL EDUCATION» description=»The purpose of the article is to prove that drama can help children distinguish good from evil, as well as serve prophylactic functions. The theoretical part defines the notion of drama (according to Anna Dziedzic) and includes general remarks concerning dramatic forms in a reformed school. The practical part contains examples, such as examples of the use of various drama techniques in early school Polish language education, taking into account also (above all) its educational aspect.» author=»EUGENIUSZ SZYMIK» publisher=»Басаранович Екатерина» pubdate=»2016-12-16″ edition=»euroasia-science_6(27)_23.06.2016″ ebook=»yes» ]