Benefits of Theatre Based Learning
Many people enjoy the theatre but don’t realise how beneficial it can be as a method of teaching. Theatre based learning is using theatre for purposes other than entertainment. Actors are used to teach students new behaviours and skills in a practical way. There are several benefits to this approach; in this article, we take a look at the benefits of theatre based learning.
Cater for a range of learning styles
Every individual learns in different ways; there are four main learning styles; visual learners, auditory learners, kinesthetic learners and reading/writing learners. A classroom-style learning environment primarily caters for reading/writing learners; this can leave other students struggling to retain information and progress appropriately. This is not their fault; they simply learn in a different way that isn’t catered for in the main way that students are taught. Theatre based learning combines a range of different learning styles, making it more suitable for a mixed group of learners. Visual, kinesthetic and auditory learners will often see better results when the learning provider includes aspects of theatre based learning in their teaching methods. This can be done alongside classic learning approaches, so all students will benefit from being taught in their preferred learning style.
Tackling complex subjects
Complicated subjects such as human behaviour and emotions can be challenging for students to comprehend through reading alone. Learning the theory of human behaviour and soft skills through reading is useful for students. However, theatre based learning demonstrates these skills and behaviours using actors in a safe environment. This can help students to get their heads around complex topics such as emotions and human behaviour. Using actors, students can try different solutions to complicated problems and begin to understand how their actions impact others.
Retaining information is important to learning new skills and being able to use them in a practical way in everyday life. Simulating real-life situations increases students' ability to retain the information and new skills learnt during a lesson. Theatre based learning uses actors to simulate scenarios students may experience in their life. They can then reflect on their class and use the skills learnt when encountering a similar real-life situation.
Keeping students engaged is a key part of any teacher's role. Students can often switch off in a classroom environment, especially if the teaching sessions are long or they’re expected to read a large amount of written material. Theatre based learning is proven to be much more engaging for students. They can keep focus for longer periods when actors are demonstrating behaviours and skills, compared to when they’re expected to read the information from a textbook.
Motivation and enthusiasm
Having the motivation to learn and enthusiasm in a classroom or workshop environment can improve how much students take from a lesson. Doing something different, like theatre based learning, can improve students' motivation and enthusiasm. If they’re looking forward to the session, they’re more likely to stay engaged and learn more. Some students even change their general behaviour during education so they don’t miss out on the classes they enjoy.
Building social skills and confidence
Traditional education is based on teaching students skills such as maths, English, science and other subjects so they can get a job in a field they choose later in life. However, education is the stage where many students begin to build their confidence and learn new social skills such as communication, empathy, negotiation and leadership skills. Theatre based learning focuses more on developing these social skills. This is incredibly important; throughout life, these skills help students become successful and happy. Without good social skills, students may struggle to make friends, form relationships and even hold down a job later in life.
There are many benefits of theatre based learning throughout education and further into adult working life. This powerful method of learning should be utilised from an early age in schools and throughout mandatory education into adult life. Many leadership programmes utilise theatre based learning to teach new techniques and skills to people that want to progress their career into a leadership role. In addition, companies that offer this form of training and development are more attractive to potential candidates.