Theatre is the ultimate immersive art form, targeting every sense simultaneously. Children, like adults, generally have different learning strengths. There are four commonly identified learning styles:
Visual (spatial): a preference for images, gestures and spatial learningAural (auditory-musical): a preference for learning through music and songVerbal (linguistic): a preference for learning through words and voicePhysical (kinesthetic): a preference for learning through body movement and touch
Although we may use all learning styles in combination, most of us have a preference for one style over others. Theatre in education, then, can carry a message and leave a strong imprint on such vast audiences simply because it does utilise all four learning styles. In this way, educational theatre can have a profound effect when a familiar bullying scenario is being played out on stage, with clear solutions, which students can use in their own lives.
Why Drama is Important in Education
Students can safely watch an actor being bullied and experience how that makes them feel alone, unsafe, afraid, stressed, ashamed and rejected; and how this can lead to depression, anxiety and mental health issues. This is incredibly effective, not only for the victims but, also, for the bullies themselves who can see and feel how their behaviour affects others and learn alternative behaviours or seek help. Students are also provided with insights into why bullies behave the way they do, such as negative home lives, with the aim of increasing caring behaviour amongst students and creating a more positive school climate.
Theatre in Education helps teach emotional intelligence, and research has revealed that the "overwhelming majority of students demonstrate enjoyment and enthusiasm through watching educational theatre, are receptive and listen attentively, and can correctly identify the educational messages being portrayed". In this way, Brainstorm Productions facilitators present carefully composed scenes that provide clear lessons, whilst engaging the audience using emotive stories and humour.
Brainstorm Productions Theatre in Education Methodology
Brainstorm Productions co-founder, Jenny Johnson, has more than 35 years’ experience delivering educational theatre and has a background in both school and University teaching. Jenny developed Brainstorm Productions educational theatre methodology and uses professional actors to deliver the programs. All programs are written in consultation with psychologists and all actors are trained and supervised by qualified teachers and theatre specialists, to ensure that the complex issues of bullying are approached sensitively.
The power of Theatre in Education and Brainstorm Productions programs, as an innovative approach to bullying, cyber safety and student wellbeing education, can be gauged by the enthusiastic participation of schools. In 2018, Brainstorm Productions performed to over 360,000 Australian students.