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Natural Learning Process

Natural Learning Process

Role modeling, improvisation and devising are the most natural, the first and most important form of learning.

Fifty years later I still remember the feelings of excitement, of engagement, of satisfaction and of anticipation as I remember my earliest learning experiences.

Our very first learning comes from role-play. We watch and we mimic the behaviour of those around us. We learn to express our emotions from those in our immediate environment.

This role modeling is foundational to learning. So why is drama and theatre or whatever name you want to give it, not given the credibility that it deserves in education? It is so clearly obvious that it offers the most credible, fundamental and accelerated learning that there is.

As we progress from babies into pre-school we play. The research around the significance of play needs to no introduction as there is so much out there. As we play we experiment we trial we anticipate, we imagine, investigate and explore.

These skills are all basic improvisation and devising skills taught in drama class.

Watch some young children at play; ‘Shops’, ‘ghosts’ or re-telling the current popular movie in their own words and actions.

“Say you are the pirate and I’m the good guy, so you go over there and then I’ll come up behind you in my ship …”

We’ve all done this. As a child role play was my personal favourite for learning and experimenting. Being fortunate enough to be brought up on a farm in my early years my siblings and friends had a huge playground. Trees and creeks and islands and bush, we played interactive theatre at its most raw and in hindsight it’s finest.

We made tee-pee tents out of toi tois which are a native bush to NZ. We had to figure out how to make these collapsible triangles and the cover the frames with blankets to protect ourselves from the elements. What fantastic learning! We had to co-operate and negotiate and collaborate to achieve our fabulous devised stories of cowboys and Indians and adventurers and explorers. The farm dogs and horses and even sheep were often incorporated into our games. Hours and hours of fun and oh the learning! We discovered what wouldn’t float, what wasn’t waterproof, what didn’t hold together as a trolley.

These experiences are pure theatre, pure joy and most importantly pure discovery. Improvising, devising and oh the development of language!

Along came school. Controlled learning, assessed learning, grading and classifying. We must get our diet of spelling and mathematics and whatever else we had to learn ‘instructed’ into us. Don’t get me wrong, there is definitely a place for instructional learning but equally important are the opportunities to improvise and devise as a means for meaningful learning.

To reiterate, drama is the most fundamental and successful and natural form of learning yet ironically it is the skill, the subject, the techniques that often get pushed to the side when budgets and timetabling and subjects are being decided upon. Drama should be incorporated into ALL subjects as a form of teaching and learning. More on that in my next article…

Monica Moore