Theatre Builds Character

 A Method of Incorporating Character Education and Critical Thinking Skills Into the Art of the Theatre

By A.F. Winter

List Price: $19.95
8" x 10" (20.32 x 25.4 cm)
Black & White on White paper
288 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1478285915
ISBN-10: 1478285915
BISAC: Education / Curricula.

Theatre Builds Character shows how a teacher could use theatre to teach character education and critical thinking skills or can use character education and critical thinking skills to teach theatre. It is a step by step guide with lesson plans, theatre games, and stories from the author's life as he worked with at-risk and under-served populations.

How to Use This Book

This is a guide.  The ideas in this book have been around for years.  There is very little that is new except the way the ideas are used.  It is set up as if this was a nine week class where you see the participants five times a week.  Day One, there is discussion on an idea for the week.  Day Two reviews the idea for the week and then moves on to a theatrical technique.  The students break up into groups and create a scene.  At this point, the scene is very rough.  Day Three  and Day Four  clarify the scene’s main ideas and incorporate the theatrical technique into the scene.  Day Five is the final showing and theatre games.  Party!  There are additional exercises and theatre games to lengthen the time you spend on each subject if needed.

The scenes will always be unpolished or as Peter Brook says “rough and holy.”  The teacher should not sit in judgment over the scenes but should always be positive.  She should not try to influence the ideas expressed by the participants but should give notes on how to strengthen their message.  We do not want the participants to say what we want to hear.  We want them to express their own ideas as a way to open up discussion on these sensitive issues.

I have used these techniques with children as young as three years old.  I have also used them with students in grad-school and everyone in between.  With a little adjustment, they work with everyone.  At the back of the book, I have included the National Teaching Standards for Theatre grades k-12.  Standard One always describes scriptwriting.  Standard Two describes the acting process.  Whatever grade you teach, these standards could easily be incorporated into your lesson plans. 

Once again, this is a guide.  If you see your students less than five times a week, then cut some things out or combine them in new and interesting ways.  For instance, I am also using this method in a class I meet with twice a week.  For this class, we cover each topic in three weeks.  In an after-school program,  each topic is covered in a month’s time.   Add your own exercises if you have something that works with your students.  You know your students better than I do and that is your strength.  A friend once said to me, there are only two things you need to know in order to be a great teacher - your subject and your students.

A note on questions.  Many questions that I ask my students are higher order thinking questions.  They are questions without easy answers.  When you ask this type of question, you have to give your students time to think about the answer.  Sometimes I will tell my class to put their hands down for a minute and then I will call on someone who wasn’t raising their hand.  That accomplishes two things.  They have to actually think before they speak.  It also puts the entire class on notice that I may call on anyone at any time, so they all pay attention.