“Make learning and teaching fun through Drama. When teachers have fun, students have fun.”
Jeffrey Tan, a trained theatre director and drama educator, gave an hour and a half workshop at the Asian Primary & Preschool Teachers Congress. He was one of the many presenters at the Asian Festival of Children’s Content (AFCC) held at The Arts House. Jeffrey taught the participants how to use Drama in the curriculum and got all the participants riled up. Every teacher in the room enjoyed his session thoroughly and left the room learning something new.
Jeffrey emphasized on how to open up students in the classroom and he recognizes that in this day and age, it can be hard with the kids having tuition almost everyday and education seems to be the only thing in life. He encouraged the teachers to use Drama to get the students talking. He feels that by asking the students to ‘keep quiet and pay attention’, it won’t get them studying. Rather, by facilitating discussions, it will get them talking and excited about the subject.
Jeffrey started the session by getting the participants to warm up and stretch. He played traditional Indonesian music over the speakers and asked them to move about the whole room. He asked them to act out how they would walk in different characters, e.g. a king, a buffalo.
He then sat them together in a circle and they had to each pick an occupation in a village. Some of the participants were fishermen; some were fruit sellers while some were beauticians. They had to find someone relevant to their character and create a tableau. They had to access each other’s tableau and decide on ways to improve it.
Next, he got them sitting in a circle to read a folktale, The Water Buffalo That Saved The Nation. He taught the participants that different people reading a script could mean different things. The tone of the voice and the pauses in the sentence can affect the meaning. He also taught them thought tracking, which is simply thinking and feeling aloud.
At the end of his session, each participant brought home something new about Drama that they didn’t know and was happy to use them in their own teaching. His session was attended by teachers from Timor Leste, Myanmar, Indonesia. There were also some early childhood education teachers, primary school teachers and secondary school teachers.
Miss Joanna, 25, a librarian, attended Jeffrey’s session and felt that it was a very insightful and wonderful experience. She felt that it was engaging and fun. She plans to use his techniques in her library to help children to participate more.
Jeffrey Tan, is trained theatre director and drama educator. He is the founder President of the Singapore Drama Educators Association. Jeffrey holds a Masters (Drama and Theatre Education) from the University of Warwick. Jeffrey has developed and taught creative writing and provided applied drama consultancy work for both schools and corporations.