Theatre in Education, or TiE for short, is the use of drama as a tool to educate and inform. We are all too familiar with cutbacks and the arts are being squeezed to their limits. But should we cut back on TiE? Schools are not always willing to sign up to TiE programmes due to budget restrictions, however as we know from research in Emotional Intelligence, by changing people's attitudes and thinking, we also change behaviour. Drama and theatre as an educational tool is therefore ideal for subjects that require people to challenge their own thinking and to connect with their emotions on core topics that impact on lives and society.
For 3 years, I worked on a TiE programme which toured schools, educating students about safe sex and talking about unplanned teenage pregnancies. The students didn’t just watch the show, they were in the show. The students took part through a three day residency with the director and myself, learning the script and later acting it out to their peers. This provided the students with a safe, guided environment where they could learn about something that is often seen as taboo. I witnessed each group of immature, hormonal teenagers walk through the door on day 1 and leave on day 3 as a group of mature, informed young men and women who were actively thinking about their decisions. The students gained confidence, they made new friends and they learned to trust one another as well as themselves. We asked a lot of the students in the short time we spent with them and they certainly gave what we asked for and more. What they learnt on a personal level can never be taught by sitting in a classroom watching a slideshow - they needed to be doing something that challenged them and got them thinking. Since the show started, the number of unplanned teenage pregnancies in the East of England has FALLEN…Obviously this project -and other interventions - are serving their purpose. The bottom line is, from my experience, you can’t put a price on education, you cannot cut corners. Something as important as safe sex should be taught correctly - young children are often taught road safety through the medium of TiE, so why not this? So the answer to my original question, do we need drama in schools? I think we most definitely do!
If you’d like to read more on how drama helps students personal development and imagination please click on this link;