Playing with plays

Ajitha Paladugu

the-canterville-ghost To all those teachers who struggle to “teach” a play to the present generation of students who have grown up on an overdose of visual stimulation and interactive modules of learning and are hooked to virtual reality, you can take comfort in the fact that no matter how advanced (read tech-savvy) our students may be, we can still lure them to the magic of drama. Our challenge is to make it appealing for them by funneling their interest and involving them through what Coleridge called “willing suspension of disbelief” and providing a vicarious experience for their complete attention. This works well on the premise that everyone loves a good story. A well-planned structured learning activity designed around a literary text can help fulfill the learning objectives without the learner even being conscious of “learning”. They can gently be goaded to appreciate timeless classics, engage in meaningful discourses, take up nuanced study of various themes and in addition to all this, even provide a fresh perspective and contemporary twists to a literary text written centuries ago.

The daunting task of taking up a play with these objectives left me with a lot of misgivings until I stumbled upon a simple and yet effective method of extracting the desired outcome by channelizing the students’ areas of interest and expertise into reading, understanding, and interpreting a play. And thus project-based learning proved very resourceful and effective in transforming a “boring” component of the syllabus into an enjoyable learning medium, not in terms of language acquisition goals alone, but also for forging good group dynamics and self-discovery.

Though project-based learning is being used by educational practitioners worldwide, is a popular choice for self-directed and customized pace of learning, is advocated by curriculum designers, and vouchsafed by teachers as an effective learning strategy, it wasn’t until recently that I discovered the efficacy of this method.

The author is a reflective teaching practitioner who believes in the transformational nature of education imparted with true commitment to the larger objectives of this noble endeavour. She teaches at Delhi Public School, Coimbatore. She can be reached at ajithapaladugu@gmail.com.

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