What is Drama in Education?

DIE is a teaching method that uses the art form of theatre facilitate students’ access to literature and lingistic structures.

In DIE-lessons, students take on the role of actor/actress as well as sepctator. They take turns working on and presenting specific drama techniques and subsequently giving feedback to and critically analysing their classmates’ presentations. This means:

  • Verbalising their observations
  • Giving an interpretation of what has been shown
  • Judging the aethetic quality of the presentation, which includes observing body language, facial expression, spacial harmony of a still image or short scene.

Drama work consists of the following three steps:

  • developing
  • presenting
  • evaluating

Drama work in DIE is shown exclusively to the members of the class and not to an external audience.

Personal gain

for students

  • physical movement
  • working in different settings with new group members
  • decision-taking in smaller and larger groups
  • being listened to, accepting suggestions from classmates, testing out different options, finding a solution
  • stepping beyond one’s personal comfort zone within the safe environment of the drama setting
  • use of body language, facial expression and voice in a meaningful context
  • experiencing a variety of emotions and experimenting with different moods
  • using creativity and imagination – thinking outside the box
  • intellectual and emotional focus on the here and now

for teachers

  • stepping out of teacher-centred instruction
  • offering access to literature and language through visual and aesthetic means
  • fostering students’ creativity
  • channelling students’ creativity by giving a clearly defined frame-work
  • helping break up patterns of interaction within a class or group
  • supporting and challenging individual students according to their personal talents

Cognitive gain from DIE

  • Drama students develop personally, emotionally and mentally, because
  • Learning is visual, kinaesthetic, creative and emotional
  • The content of a lesson is anchored in the students’ memory through movement, action and emotion
  • Students work towards their learning goals by considering subject matter from different points of view – on an intellectual level but also very literally in their drama tasks.

Drama in education and presentation skills

While being engaged in drama work, students gain further understanding about

  • themselves
  • the group and their position within the group
  • their voice
  • non-verbal means of communication
  • connectedness with the actors and actresses in their group
  • connectedness with the audience through visual contact and emotional presence

All of this is necessary for a successful appearance in front of an audience, be that in a drama or a non-drama context at the occasion of

  • giving presentations
  • participating in meetings
  • job interviews etc.

Based on Hornbrook, David (1998). Education and Dramatic Art, 2nd Ed. London and New York: Routledge.