Quality Education and Reconciliation through Drama and Storytelling

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A team of Drama experts led by Professor Drew Kahn from Buffalo State University has been facilitating two days experience-sharing activities along with Wellspring Foundation Trainers about the integration of Drama performance and Storytelling in Education to enhance Quality in Education and to facilitate the Community reconciliation.

Professor Kahn (lef) explaining a drama technique to a group of Trainers

Professor Kahn (lef) explaining a drama technique to a group of Trainers

“Drama-based Education, said Professor Kahn, is using the concepts in the fundamental elements of what it takes to build stories in Drama and apply those to interactive classroom environment. So at the moment, when the students are learning from the lecture and their brains are filled and they are potentially getting bored because their brains are filled, they are wondering what to do with it. That’s when we get them on their feet and we teach them to build stories, to enliven, own and physically engage the lesson”.

“We know from contemporary research that the capacity of the brain and knowledge is finite, the capacity of the body is infinite”, insisted Professor Kahn who quoted Benjamin Franklin (“tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Show me and I learn”) to underline the importance of involving the students actively in order to help them build their stories and prepare them more realistically for the future.

“In many ways Rwanda is the perfect place for this kind of Work. We know from Genocide histories like the Holocaust, the Armenian Genocide, the Cambodian Genocide, the Bosnian Genocide, that if we don’t tell stories, the story will be told for us by the people who would like to believe that it never happened”, stressed Professor Kahn, who emphasized the importance of the concept in the Reconciliation process. “If we don’t tell our stories, we become the most dangerous part of any conflict, the bystanders.”

While Kahn believes that “Rwanda is a model of reconciliation, forgiveness and second chance”, and as the Country has been going through its major review of the National Education Curriculum to make it become more child-centered and innovation-oriented, he encouraged Rwandan Educators to help the students learn to integrate their own stories in the learning process to “explain the unexplainable and to unpack the unimaginable”.

 

“Drama and storytelling, as tools in Education, are very helpful in that they encourage both introvert and extrovert students to engage in the learning process just as they are. And this is very crucial when we build confidence in students and when we encourage active participation in classrooms”, Said Theogene Kayiranga, Wellspring Foundation Quality Education Program Manager.

“On top of being child-centered, the Drama-based education concept is very efficient since it allows the child to learn as he or she is doing. Indeed, when you are dramatizing, you live what you are learning. Learning through Drama can make the lesson be unforgettable to the child since it becomes part of the child’s life”, stated Wellspring Foundation Education Program Manager, Rachel Mahuku who has been deeply and actively involved in the National Curriculum Review along with other Key Government stakeholders and Education Development Partners.

“This concept comes as a competing alternative to the formal learning model, She said, whereby the teacher is all-knowing  and pours all his/her knowledge in the child. And yet, the child discovers and learns by doing. So I find this approach very crucial especially as our Country is moving from a knowledge-based Curriculum to a Competence-based Curriculum”.

“Through drama-based education we can learn the same contents and concepts but in a way that is more memorable by being active and engaged in our learning” said Richard Taylor, Wellspring Rwanda Country Director.

“This is something, as Wellspring, that we have been teaching and that we have been involved in. But I think this can bring us a few new tools, a few things that can complement what we have already been working on in schools and classrooms” he added.

Since 2008, Wellspring Foundation Rwanda has been using drama, among many other tools, in its effort to support Gasabo District Public Schools by empowering Teachers and Head Teachers through various modules to help enhance the Quality Education is classrooms.

Professor Drew Kahn is a full time professor of Theater at Buffalo State College where he teaches acting, voice, movement (President's Award for Excellence in Teaching/SUNY) and directs mainstage productions (Kennedy Center Award). He is the Founding Director of "The Anne Frank Project", a multi-layered social justice initiative at Buffalo State College that utilizes the wisdom of Anne Frank as a springboard for the intense examination of genocide, bias and conflict resolution through the lens of storytelling and performance. He presents internationally on the universal language of theater and the intersection of storytelling and genocides as a means towards meaningful social change- most recently in Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, New Zealand, Greece, Croatia, Morocco and Turkey (Toby Ticktin Back Award for Holocaust Education, Community Leader Award, and National Federation for Just Communities).

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