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Live Performance Accelerates Student Performance!



Actors performing


The Stage as a Classroom: Unleashing Potential Through Theatre

In education, where innovation and effectiveness are constantly pursued, live performance emerges as a transformative tool. Its impact goes beyond entertainment, offering various developmental benefits crucial in shaping young minds. Drawing from insights in "The Benefits of Attending Live Performance for Children and Adolescents" by Dr. Kirkham, let's explore the multifaceted advantages of integrating theatre into education.


Theatre: A Portal to Learning and Growth

  1. First Encounters with Theatre: The initial experience of live theatre is often a landmark moment in a child's life. Whether it's a festive panto, a family-friendly musical, or a beloved book brought to life, theatre can captivate and inspire young audiences. However, perceived barriers such as cost or perceived elitism can limit access. Recognizing and advocating for the psychological benefits of live performances is essential in making theatre an inclusive educational tool.

  2. The Art of Belief Suspension: Engaging with theatre requires an imaginative leap, especially for children who are typically more literal in their thinking. This act of suspending disbelief and embracing the fictional world on stage is a profound cognitive exercise, fostering imagination and empathy.


The Psychological Landscape of Live Performance

  1. Synchronized Learning and Bonding: Studies, such as those conducted by UCL's experimental psychologists, reveal that watching live performances can synchronize viewers' heart rates, fostering a sense of social connection and belonging. This phenomenon is particularly significant in childhood and adolescence, a critical period for social development and group bonding.

  2. The Educational Power of Drama: Participation in drama activities has been linked to substantial benefits in academic achievement and psychological well-being. For instance, integrating performing arts into the curriculum can boost academic performance by up to 4%. This highlights the role of drama in enhancing cognitive skills and emotional intelligence.

  3. Cognitive and Social Advancements through Theatre: Research shows that students who experience live performances exhibit improvements in knowledge retention, vocabulary, social tolerance, and perspective-taking skills. These benefits, interestingly, are not replicated when the same stories are presented as movies, underscoring the unique impact of live theatrical experiences.


Theatre as a Catalyst for Personal and Social Change

  1. Enhancing Self-Efficacy and Motivation: Theatre has been recognized as an influential medium in boosting self-efficacy, especially among children and teenagers. By participating in theatre, young individuals develop a stronger belief in their capabilities, which can motivate them to pursue positive social changes and make healthier life choices.

  2. Emotional Exploration and Expression: Theatre creates a safe and nurturing space for children to explore and express complex emotions. It enables them to develop the emotional and cognitive skills needed to navigate a complicated world, fostering emotional maturity and resilience.


Practical Steps for Educators: Making Every Lesson Theatrical

  1. Integrate Varied Theatrical Forms: Educators can enrich their teaching by incorporating different forms of theatre into their lessons. This could range from traditional plays to interactive storytelling sessions, musicals, puppet shows, and improvisational theatre.

  2. Encourage Student Participation: Provide opportunities for students to witness and participate in live performances. This could be through school plays, drama clubs, or collaborative projects with local theatre groups.

  3. Field Trips to Local Theatres: Organizing trips to regional theatres can expose students to professional productions, broadening their cultural and artistic horizons. This also helps in building connections between classroom learning and real-world experiences.

  4. Utilise Technology in Theatre Education: Leverage digital tools to make theatre more accessible. This could include virtual reality experiences of live performances, digital storytelling, or online workshops conducted by theatre professionals.

  5. Promote Reflective and Critical Thinking: Encourage students to critically engage with the performances they witness. Discussions, written reflections, or creative projects based on their theatre experiences can deepen their understanding and appreciation of the arts.


Conclusion: A Standing Ovation for Educational Theatre

Incorporating live performance into the fabric of education is not just about fostering artistic talents; it's about nurturing well-rounded, emotionally intelligent, and socially conscious individuals. As educators, we can harness the power of theatre to ignite curiosity, empathy, and a love for learning in our students. The stage is more than a platform for entertainment; it's a catalyst for holistic development and a bridge to a world of endless educational possibilities.



References 

Kirkham, N (2019) The Benefits of Attending Live Performance for Children and Adolescents. London: ACN.

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