The Future of Education

Edition 14

Accepted Abstracts

Role of Performing Arts in Initial Teacher Preparation

Smriti Sharma, Department of Elementary Education, Lady Shri Ram College, University of Delhi (India)


The paper aims at presenting the authors’ experiences of being involved in performing arts in a four year professional degree program (Bachelor of Elementary Education- B.EL.Ed.) offered by the University of Delhi, India. B.El.Ed. is a teacher preparation program designed to integrate human development, pedagogical input, subject knowledge and communication skills. Performing arts, as practicum paper, is compulsory and essential (and is assessed) for the first and the third year  students. The objectives of performing arts are twofold – in the first year the thrust is on using performing arts especially theatre as a means to exploring self and the world around; and in the third year the focus shifts to using performing arts for pedagogical purposes. The paper would present a perspective in using theatre arts for teacher preparation. Process and nuances of the same would be put forth. An example is using transformation which takes place at three levels – transforming self and others; objects and the world around; and transformations related to space and time. Besides, helping realize one’s own potential for self-enhancement and giving a lens to the student-teachers to look at the world more sensitively and critically, the course in the third year aims at enabling the students explore possibilities of using theatre as a pedagogic tool. The paper discusses these as well as the challenges of doing this during the school internship of student-teachers. Various examples of using theatre in classrooms include - looking at stereotypes and breaking stereotypes (critically looking at gender issues); Environmental Science concepts such as journey in space and exploring forts (transformation of space and time). It is often argued that theatre has a lot of potential in the school curricula as a co-curricular subject. The paper argues that time has come to explore the possibilities of looking at theatre not as an insular subject but to venture into the domain of its integration with other arts and subjects. Given this premise, it is imperative to include performing arts as an integral aspect of elementary teacher education programs. Moreover, there is a need to challenge the instrumentality of using performing arts; the emphasis should be shift from it giving value to a teacher’s ‘performance in the class by virtue of imparting skills such as voice modulation and gestures’ to exploring use of performing arts as a pedagogic tool and a tool for self-exploration. Given the emphasis on education as transformative and for social justice worldwide, performing arts is an apt medium to get the prospective teachers to challenge their stereotypes and long held beliefs by virtue of their socialization. While taking real examples of work with student-teachers as well as their responses the paper would argue how performing arts are a non-intimidating medium as well as an empowering one to do so. 

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