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ERIC Number: EJ912850
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 7
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 4
ISSN: ISSN-0271-0633
Demystifying Experiential Learning in the Performing Arts
Kindelan, Nancy
New Directions for Teaching and Learning, n124 p31-37 Win 2010
The pedagogy of performing arts courses in theatre, film, music, and dance programs found in most liberal arts curricula is clearly experiential insofar as the making of art involves active engagement in classroom activities or events that are staged or filmed. But because many educators outside the arts perceive performing arts programs as solely providing a platform for students to showcase their talents, they believe that the goals and objectives of performing arts curricula focus on developing technical skills over what educators call "operational" and "value-focused" skills. This view fails to recognize that performing arts courses and projects include cognitively challenging endeavors that help to advance the intellectual skills necessary for managing lifelong career goals and for contributing to the social well-being of the nation. Therefore, the curricula of many performing arts programs support interdisciplinary and independent research projects, encourage reflective pedagogies of civic engagement, include service-learning activities and study abroad programs, and offer distinctive experiential ways of learning. Well-planned experiential activities help performing arts students develop the critical thinking and leadership skills necessary in building and sustaining successful professional careers; navigate career choices throughout their lives; and become contributing members of society engaged in thinking about complex social issues and taking responsible civic action. When performance courses and projects do more than develop technical skills, they engage students in active learning experiences that address many of the goals and skills of a contemporary liberal education, especially those that strive to develop a twenty-first century workforce that is socially responsible. In this article, the author presents an example illustrating how the preparation of a theater student's undergraduate honors thesis on dramaturgy and "The Laramie Project" (a play by Moises Kaufman and the Tectonic Theatre Company) promotes intentional learning through emphasizing critical thinking and analytical skills as well as developing leadership and citizenship skills. The production of "The Laramie Project" is an example of how theatre departments enhance the understanding of multiculturalism and social responsibility on the college campus through active and experiential learning strategies.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Massachusetts