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According to Nellie McCaslin, an accomplished researcher, teacher and author, the dramatic arts present at least a dozen educational values. For example, participating in drama:

n Develops imagination

n Offers opportunity for independent thinking and planning n Fosters cooperation and team building skills n Builds social awareness

n Increases problem-solving skills n Allows for healthy release of emotion n Improves habits of speech n Increases communication skills n Enhances listening skills

n Provides experience with literature n Improves memory n Increases sensitivity

As a drama teacher with twenty-nine years of experience, I can vouch for each of these values, and can add a few more of my own! There is a thrill in watching drama students develop their abilities to sequence time and events, organize and synthesize ideas, understand symbols, develop self-esteem, persevere in a task, collaborate and negotiate with others, and give and receive constructive feedback. More importantly, students involved in drama become more knowledgeable about themselves. And at the same time that they are growing as individuals, they are also fostering a sense of belonging and community!

One of the wonderful opportunities of Arabian Nights was the diversity on stage. Regardless of differences in learning style, language and culture, students had to find ways of working together. One of our maxims, borrowed from ISTA (International Schools Theatre Association), was HOLA: Help Others Look Amazing. Students took that to heart, helped each other run lines, make quick costume changes or sharpen a cue. Teachers commented on how amazing it was to see certain students shine in ways that do not necessarily happen in the classroom. Naturally it was our goal to produce an entertaining cohesive show for our audiences, but behind the scenes, the learning and community building was phenomenal.


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