We aim to contribute to the development of Chilean children and young people’s comprehensive education by making theater and the performing arts compulsory in public schools.
WHAT DOES IT INVOLVE?
Theater in Education is a program that aims to turn the performing arts into something relevant in the comprehensive development of children and young people in public education in Chile by using theatrical teaching methodologies.
By incorporating the performing arts as an compulsory subject during the second half of primary school (fifth to eighth grades), the program aims to encourage the development of students’ socio-emotional abilities, as well as their interest in the performing arts. In addition, it supports teacher training by imparting both active and technical methodologies for teaching drama.
Designed and implemented by the Teatro a Mil Foundation, Verónica García-Huidobro - an expert and pioneer in developing drama teaching - is the consultant for the program and is involved both in incorporating this methodology into the schools and working with the drama teachers.
SCHOOLS IN LA GRANJA
We’ve been running this program in public schools in La Granja since 2016, because of our close collaborative relationship with the municipality through its Cultural Corporation and the Espacio Matta Cultural Center. In the first year, we worked with the Tecnosur and Sanitas schools and, in 2017, because of a grant we were awarded by the former Council (now Ministry) of Culture and the Arts to encourage the arts, we ran the program in the Sanitas (sixth and seventh grades) and Poeta Neruda (fifth and sixth grades) schools.
From 2018 onwards, thanks to financing from the Department of Crime Prevention’s National Fund for Public Safety, we were able to run the program in three educational establishments for around 254 students.
In 2019, the Poeta Óscar Castro Zúñiga primary school joined the program, with fifth and sixth graders participating.
SCHOOLS IN BARRANCAS
As part of the Educational Reform, based on the concept of a new kind of public education that aims to improve educational quality, access, equity and inclusion, a collaborative agreement has been in place with the Barrancas Local School Service in 2018 to implement Theater in Education in 32 fifth and sixth grade classes at 11 schools in the Pudahuel, Cerro Navia and Lo Prado neighborhoods, involving 954 students.
Performing arts classes are fundamental to developing basic relationship abilities, self-awareness, multisensorial perception and team work, using exercises involving drama.
These are an opportunity to reinforce what is learnt in the classroom, related to esthetic appreciation, bodily expression and communication. Before and after the performance, an activity is held to encourage critiques of the artistic performance.
Some of the plays watched included Historia de una gaviota y el gato que le enseño a volar (María Izquierdo and Elvira López), Gulliver (Viaje Inmóvil) and El Capote (Teatro y su doble).
The program has become part of this initiative that promotes activities that go beyond the limits of the classroom, using different performing arts activities to encourage meeting up with other members of the community.
The aim is to use the performing arts to promote links with the area and students’ local culture, holding activities that recover and value what is typical about the neighborhood.
Aimed at teachers at the schools where the program is implemented, this seminar is made up of five sessions whose aim is to support teaching methodologies with drama teaching tools. In the seminar, the teachers are able to improve their knowledge and deal with, plan and develop their work.
Once a year, students take part in a master class with renowned actors from the world of Chilean theater. This opportunity aims to be a significant event in both their daily and school lives.
The classes involved put on a show at the end of the year in front of the rest of the school. A second performance is also held in their neighborhood cultural center, involving a selection of performances.
The aim is to evaluate school life and the socio-emotional learning level of the children and young people involved in the program through student surveys, interviews with teachers and document revision (Institutional Education Projects or PEI, as well as the school rulebook).
METHODOLOGY | THEATER APPLIED TO EDUCATION
Theater isn’t limited solely to producing talent and shows, but can also define itself as an artistic style that makes an important contribution to educational processes by developing the ability to express oneself, sensitivity and a community’s sense of society. As part of theater’s social and critical role, drama teaching has the capacity to create and put into practice a work strategy that understands the theater as an important resource for both integration and learning. It motivates learning, makes it easier to express oneself, is an emotional healing tool and provides a creative experience, allowing the creative field to support the educational one. More information here.
In the framework of the Educational Reform, a series of discussions arose in 2015 about how we understand public education and its role and scope, as well as educational models, curricular priorities and, therefore, the role of the arts in education. In this context, we joined the debate, encouraging a citizen movement that in January 2016 saw its first results, when the National Congress’s Chamber of Deputies approved the project that requested the President of the Republic, Michelle Bachelet, to incorporate theater as a compulsory subject in Chilean public education. Driven by the Teatro a Mil Foundation, the Chilean Syndicate of Actors and Actresses (SIDARTE) and academics from the drama teaching diploma at the Catholic University, the reform was presented to Congress by Pepe Auth, Gabriel Boric, Giorgio Jackson, Maya Fernández, Roberto Poblete, Ramón Farías, Mario Venegas, Pedro Brown, Issa Kort, Guillermo Teiller and Felipe Kast.
We created Theater in Education due to our conviction that school education is an essential platform for developing the arts in the country and that theater and the performing arts can contribute to a comprehensive education. Run for the first time as a pilot project in 2016 at the Tecnosur and Sanitas schools in the La Granja neighborhood, we have created an opportunity to integrate drama as a subject into the full-time school day.
The program has gradually grown, thanks to a grant to encourage the arts in education from the Ministry of Culture, the Arts and Heritage (2017), the Department of Crime Prevention’s National Fund for Public Safety (2018) and our collaboration with the Barrancas Local Education School Service, which has allowed us to extend the program to 11 schools in the Pudahuel, Cerro Navia and Lo Prado neighborhoods.