‘Transcending Education’, a festival on theatre arts integrated approach to learning, was held on October 27 & 28, 2017 at Sharanam, the green amphitheatre of Sri Aurobindo Society in Puducherry. This festival was the outcome of the Theatre Arts in Integral Education camp organized in July 2017, which was followed with two and a half months of implementation of the action oriented project-based learning approach explored by master resource facilitators during the camp.
The festival organized by Sri Aurobindo Society, was a part of its Rupantar project, in collaboration with the Directorate of School Education, Puducherry. More than 100 government school principals and teachers in Puducherry gathered to watch 18 master resource facilitators and 126 primary school children present dramatized versions of various topics from their syllabus, integrating several subjects. It was an inspiring and enriching experience to observe 16 performances where each presentation brought alive several topics weaved into a single narrative.
The process began in the July 2017 Theatre Arts in Integral Education camp. After attending the camp, all participant resource facilitators started experimenting with what their students felt strongly about – their surroundings and topics offered in their syllabus – through the process of theatre arts. This approach aroused the children’s interest in their subjects of study and sensitized them towards the living conditions they dwelled in. The resource facilitators recognized how this concerned and pragmatic approach helped children grow in their awareness and sensitivity. Noting such a positive impact, the resource facilitators then started an action oriented production-based project in their schools.
The project began with observations of inner responses of the children and facilitators involved, to the present conditions of school and home environment and their relations with the syllabus contents along with their pragmatic application in one’s life. Reflecting on the inner responses, they moved ahead taking the necessary actions in their day-to-day living. This constituted the raw materials of this festival in which they intended to share with everyone a plausible approach to integral learning and living through the medium of theatre arts. The process of consolidating the raw materials and weaving them into a narrative gave birth to a coherent whole in the form of a play. Whereas the process invoked the joy of learning, enthusiasm, sensitivity, creativity and change in the immediate environment, the final presentations in the festival unleashed the courage to stay on the progressive path of transformation.
The programme was facilitated by Ravi Shanker (Creative Director, Theatre Arts in Integral Education) and Kiran (Resource Facilitator, Art & Craft in Integral Education) – both practitioners in the field of Integral Education at Sri Aurobindo Society.
Enriched and inspired by the Theatre Arts in Integral Education camp July 2017, I was motivated to change my way of teaching.. . . After a brief discussion with the children, we picked up a chapter “Man & Nature” which was about growing pollution. Then we decided to observe and inspect our school premises. We were shocked to find out that in our school campus there was not only many traces of polluting factors but heaps of plastic bottles and wrappers as well. This observation made us ashamed. After a brief discussion we divided ourselves into groups and had a cleaning session in and around our school campus. Seeing the surrounding clean and beautiful we decided to sensitize everyone in our school so that this cleanliness is maintained. In order to do that we dramatized our chapter incorporating many ideas and devised a small play.. . . We also performed this play during the TAIIE Festival October 2017 which moved and inspired all the other participant-schools.. . .
B. Suresh, PST GHSS, Koodapakkam
The Theatre Arts in Integral Education camp, July 2017, made me realize that theatre is a tool for not only teaching the chapters given in the books but also the values . . .. As I tried to explore chapters through the medium of theatre arts bringing forth all the hidden values, I found many positive changes in our children.. . . Now I see my classroom so lively and a place to learn with joy which is not the case in a conventional classroom.
K. James, PST GPS, Aranganur
We came up with many topics from a lesson in EVS, and integrating many subjects we devised and performed a play. Besides realizing concepts our children could easily enrich the language unknowingly.
Lakshmi. P. PST, GPS, Moolakulam
I appreciate the performance of children and also of the teachers. This is an effective tool . . . learning outcomes can be achieved through this very easy (method).. . . Using this process, we can teach values as well.
R. Jaya, PST GPS, Reddiarpalayam