Now, before we get into the detail of each workshop, you might be wondering
Our ideas about improvisation in the classroom are currently the focus of research by academics at Kings College, London. The study involves measuring the impact of using improvisation skills as a teaching tool on young people’s attainment. Our research partner at KCL is Viv Ellis, Professor of Educational Leadership and Teacher Development. Some background and information about the pilot study is HERE
“Our teaching ethos and our performing style is rooted in the belief that the most interesting ideas arrive when you allow yourself to surprise yourself. Learning the skill of improvisation – which we believe anyone can learn – unlocks this potential in all of us.” John Nicholson, Peepolykus Co-Artistic Director
We don’t really have the time or the resources to encourage children to be more active learners. There isn’t anywhere in the curriculum where those skills are developed separate from the teaching of the subject but if there are games and exercises that can help activate that enquiring or ‘taking a risk quality’, then we are really interested to try that stuff out.
“I’d like to see exercises that encourage pupils to have a dialogue with their teacher, that leads to a more equal or balanced transaction where the teacher is more than just a vessel of facts who stands at the front of the classroom. Games that encourage you not to ‘block’ or ‘shutdown’ when you encounter something you think might be difficult will be very useful.”
Trying to plan a student’s behaviours and environment to be conducive to what you are about to teach can be really difficult because you as the teacher are in that mindset all the time but they aren’t, because they have just come from a very different environment.
“The challenge (is) making what you want them to learn interesting and relevant to them because you’re fighting against what they see as interesting and relevant to them as young people.”
The spectre of GSCE is right there from Year 7 so you as a teacher are having to counter that. Year 7 should be about the joy of learning about your subject. Year 7’s come in with great enthusiasm, and by year 8 they are disillusioned. Year 8 are also the lowest priority in terms of what you need to achieve with them because of the structure of the examination system as a whole. It would be great if we could find stuff that breaks some of ‘that’ within the accepted modes of what we’re doing. Are there strategies we can adopt through improvisation that start to increase engagement and resilience? Even if we can show a small incremental rise, it would be worth it.
“…it’s difficult to try something completely new. If we can break the fear of finding new ways to approach lesson plans, we might have a chance of changing the engagement of pupils and helping them to see the relevance of all of the subjects they are taught.”
Peepolykus has also run workshops and projects with a number of groups and organisations including:
West Yorkshire Playhouse, Pegasus Youth Theatre, Oxford, Lyric Hammersmith
Rose Bruford College, Deaf Stories Group, Bristol, Firebird Theatre, Bristol
Circomedia, 72Point PR, City Lit, Circus Space, Desperate Men, Inspector Sands
Tmesis Theatre, Bristol University Drama Department, Swindon Youth Theatre
The Mill Arts Centre, Banbury, Interaction, Liverpool Everyman, National Youth Music Theatre, British Council.
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