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This research paper highlights the importance of theatre arts in developing self confidence, improvement of reading and language skills and motivation of students in both Middle and High schools. Definition and scope of theater arts is important in understanding its importance in schools and are hence provided in the paper.
Theatre arts are a branch of performing arts which focuses on live performances. These include music, plays, or skits. The course is described as involving Public speaking, oral interpretation, fundamentals of acting, design and technology, costume techniques, stage craft, script analysis, broadcasting , stage management scenic and light management. The activities in performing acts include roles such as actors, critic, play writing, compositions of dances, music and drama, supervision and assignment of roles. According to the philosophy of multiple intelligence, theatre is important as it facilitates growth, learning and confidence in children hence should not be underestimated. Individuals are capable of performing multiple roles when motivated and given opportunities. Programs that focus on creativity and performance ability have gained popularity in schools in both formal and informal settings. To improve quality of education, appreciate the role of arts and creativity in school environment, there are movements advocating is integration in all school curricula.
A major campaigner for such programs is UNESCO. It carries out workshops and movements to encourage international integration of theatre arts in all school curricula. UNESCO aims at creating an international network for regional and national bodies they actively deal with arts education, especially theatre arts by launching appeals for art promotion in schools. Through acting, exploration and experiential learning students can express themselves and manage their talents to benefit all areas of their lives and the community. Theatre arts boost student's ability to recognize their talents in acting, creating characters, plots and control of emotions. This boosts confidence and enables them to realize that they have a range of abilities in creativity, leadership and public speaking.
Schools are institutions meant to develop student's skills in all aspects of life and enable them realize their talents and capabilities. The skills and knowledge gained from schools should help students change their economic prospects hence the curriculum should not exclude theatre arts. Students use arts as a medium to explore other areas of a curriculum, improving mastery in other areas like history, literature, linguistics, mathematics and geography. An example is that of students performing skits or plays about a historic figure or occurrence. They memorize the play thus making it easier for them to understand it in classroom application. This ensures better performances in such subjects. Because theatre arts integrate people from different cultures and involves topics from all over the world, it is used as a medium to make students appreciate other cultures by normalizing skills, knowledge and cultural intervention as well s learn about their own cultures (Motter, 1984).
Cultural appreciation promotes unity and understanding between people of different cultures. By learning about other people's cultures students are able to appreciate themselves and build their self confidence. Arts as an active process helps students make sense of their experiences by developing a range of critical frameworks. The frame works allow them to use concepts of anesthetic understanding and practice as well as making judgments on the effectiveness of arts. Children who appreciate art have a neutral view of the world that enables them form close interpersonal relationships with people around them, including teachers and neighbors.
As an interactive process, theatre art is conceived as an integrated element of the curriculum focusing on the individual's entire education. This is more so in situations where student engage in the artistic, cultural and intellectual work of others while participating in their own creativity. As an experiential process, theatre arts aid students to learn through sensory perceptions and observations. Theatre arts allow students to use their sense, perceptions, feelings, values and knowledge to communicate. This helps in making awareness of their physical worlds that in turn helps in making choices concerning careers and life. The following developmental areas and view points illustrate major importance of theatre arts in children and high school students.
It has been proven through research that theatre arts improve student's aesthetic development and visual thinking. Students are required to develop critical and visual thinking abilities in order to come up with effective pieces of performances. The visual thinking is helpful in being creative whose benefits extend from management, planning and performance. Studies show that making forms of art like music composition through computers increases their compositional strategies and stimulates student's artistic skills. These activities also enhance students' appreciation of arts as well as assist in artistic development. They understand disciplines of dramatic expressions better and also learn the nature of theatrical interpretation through their involvements in performing arts, i.e. playing roles of acting, criticizing or character. When children are able to correctly interpret art, their capabilities in other areas is also improved as arts are used as a communication tool.
When students are involved in active plays of literature books or drama, they obtain knowledge for better comprehension of the play or book and develop a positive attitude towards theatre arts and appreciate its values.
This refers to improvements through social and economic spheres of both an individual and the society. As discussed before, theatre arts enhance student's self awareness, self confidence and appreciation of others. Through drama, children develop better attitudes to express themselves, trust others and develop acceptance and awareness. With this mastery, students feel confident in their skills and in life as a whole. They develop a strong self esteem and appreciation of other peoples' talents and capabilities (Motter, 1984).
Because theatre arts involve speaking and acting, students are able to polish their speech in an attempt to offer excellence to their audiences. This motivation and engagements keeps students busy from unrewarding activities that would hinder them from attending schools. Attendance of school is promoted through change of attitude and motivation. Research show that students who combined theatre arts with other subjects have low tendencies to drop out of school, compared to those who did not interpret performing arts in their studies. The hypothesis behind this could be that performing arts enhances the learning environment as friendly and favorable, motivating learners to and providing fun evens to look up for. It could also be because theatre arts help mastery in other subjects like linguistic, making them simpler to comprehend.
When interdisciplinary teaching is implemented through theater arts in an interactive and students initiated atmospheres, they are better appreciated and students show more enthusiasm and motivation in learning. This is because they recognize the value of making efforts and willingness to achieve. Students rarely become defensive when discipline is administered in a friendly and non condemning environment. Through student initiated interdisciplinary teaching teachers are able to offer discipline that match the student's capabilities. Students on the other hand do not feel victimized by being disciplined as it is implemented in a friendly environment. "SPECTRA + program illustrate that students in its interdisciplinary program have positive outlooks towards their parents. Their expectations of parental appraisal are different from those that are not in the program. With these, students can focus on their economic developments with confidence.
Socio cultural development
Socio cultural development refers to improvements realized within cultural hemispheres in relation to human social activities. It encompasses social structures, relationships and values of the society. Communication skills acquired through arts enhances children's attitudes towards communities and societies, as well as individuals in it. Performing arts can help students improve interpersonal skills like team work, tolerance and bio diversity appreciation as well as effective communication. Through integrations with other students and teachers, they learn to coordinate and work in groups, plan and communicate with others, as well as appreciate talents and unique abilities from other students. Studies indicate that theatre arts improve children perceptions of their cultural and social environments improving their interpersonal relationships. Performing arts such as music could reduce stereotypical attitudes and aid in developing sensitivity towards other cultures by learning historical backgrounds.
Cognitive development refers to memory and mind development. The stimulation of the mind involved in music and emotive plays promotes cognitive development and enhances memory functioning. Studies such as the Reviewing "Education and the arts project" of Harvard has demonstrated that there is a correlation between listening to music and reasoning; playing music and spatial reasoning; drama and verbal skills; dance and non verbal reasoning; visual arts and reading; Therefore arts supports spatial reasoning and should not be isolated from other subjects. Music and drama have positive effects on cognitive competence on children and young adults through the enhancements of mental and physical development. Theater arts also have a positive influence on creativity through fluency, imagination and originality.
Theatre arts enhance better achievement through change of attitudes and aspirations. A major influenced area is the linguistic. Arts improve language mechanics, expression and reference skills. Drama and music specifically improves children vocabulary and reading comprehension through memorization of words and ways of speech. Theater arts also contribute greatly to reading skills, writing and mathematics.
Theater provides a modality for extensive learning and provides opportunities through which children can grow academically, socially, and emotionally. As children develop, self expression and confidence are important elements to be considered as they offer exposure to different kinds of intelligence like theater. This in turn benefits the child in leadership opportunities and moulds them into well adjusted individuals.
Theatre arts are an element of performing arts that enables students and children to be interactive, explorative and experimental with their skills. Its benefits are manifold as it touches every aspect of a human person that includes thinking, memory, activity and personal relationships. With theatre arts, children are able to develop socio economically, culturally, cognitive wise and academically. These developments take place through interactions, communications, self confidence building and integration of a friendly interdisciplinary mechanism that is student initiated (Epskamp & Empskamp, 2006).
Studies and research illustrate that children learn better through arts leading to higher performances. These studies also illustrate a strong correlation between performing arts and different subjects including mathematics, linguistics, history and language arts. Through memorization, children learn vocabulary and speech skills like public speaking. This helps in expression, fluency, imagination and creativity. Theatre arts also build self confidence, self awareness and reading abilities. A major advantage of theatre arts in schools is the proven fact that it helps students stay in schools. Because of this interactive nature, children are motivated and encouraged to stay in school as they learn in fun environment. This theory is evidenced by several research carried out on students who integrate arts with other school subjects. They are motivated to perform well in other subjects and attend schools regularly. With the above, it is safe to conclude that theatre arts important in school curricula and should not be isolated.