The Benefits of Using Theatre to Teach Core Subjects in Academia are Significant, Substantial, and Inimitable.
Litanies of experimental studies have provided evidence that the consistent integration of theatre into the educational curriculum is an incredibly effective method for the development of the desirable, higher-order thinking processes encapsulated by the cognitive domain of Bloom’s Taxonomy. In addition, according to Howard Gardner’s “Theory of Multiple Intelligences,” all people possess varying levels of intelligence in eight different categories; ergo, equitable, and effective classroom instruction and its associated assessment must approach all eight of these subdivisions. Unfortunately, the overwhelming majority of instructional and assessment methods prevalent in today’s classroom environment address only two of these eight intelligences, placing many students at an unfair disadvantage. One of theatre’s greatest strengths is that it addresses the remaining six intelligences that are conspicuously neglected by traditional instructional and assessment procedures, resulting in a classroom that is far more receptive to the needs of all students.
Upon engaging in theatre, students are provided with an environment ripe for facilitating the usage of their reasoning abilities to arrive at logical conclusions and to synthesize new ideas (Gullat 211). In addition, these dramatic reenactments foster creativity and enhance the learning process (Gullat 211). When students participate in theatre, they assume an active role in their education through the construction of their own unique meanings from the text; the creation of such significance is the essence of learning. However, in theatre, this process of constructing meaning becomes visual, and these visual images are communicated to the audience via movements, ideas, and vocalizations and serve as evidence of successful learning outcomes (Vacca et al. 375). This combination of reading and theatrical drama enactment has been proven to improve verbal skills and said improvement in verbal skills is transferable to new texts as well, and not merely the wording used in the classroom theatre (Gullat 217).
Theatre also enables increased comprehension of the dense, subject-specific texts that are encountered in other core subjects such as math and science. This property of theatre manifests itself by permitting unique alterations in a student’s perspective, rendering it uniquely suitable for increasing concept comprehension across all disciplines. For instance, many students have difficulty understanding rudimentary chemistry concepts such as “Atomic Structure.” One of the benefits of using theatre to teach this concept becomes evident upon the creation of a “human” atom, an atom in which individual students assume the roles of the components of an atom. Through classroom theatre, the students have now visualized an atom from the perspective of a subatomic particle! This unique and active, as opposed to passive, experience possesses a significant probability of creating knowledge that might be unattainable through any other means (Vacca et al. 376).
This paper has elucidated the most pertinent and prescient benefits of using theatre to teach core subjects in academia. All benefits concerning theatre’s aforementioned usage have been substantiated via valid, reproducible, and standardized research experiments. In addition, there exists significant anecdotal evidence from school instructors and administrators who have witnessed the enormous benefits that a theatre-inclusive curriculum is capable of producing. Lastly, theatre’s ability to develop the higher-order thinking skills as specified in the cognitive domain of Bloom’s Taxonomy may be the most valuable benefit conferred via its usage in teaching core academic subjects.
Gullatt, David E. “Research Links the Arts with Student Academic Gains.” The Educational Forum, vol. 71, no. 3, spring 2007, pp. 211-220.
Vacca, Richard T., et al. Content Area Reading: Literacy and Learning Across the Curriculum. Pearson, 2014.