How theater can teach our kids to be empathetic
A Washington Post Persepectives article by Alexandra Moe called How theater can teach our kids to be empathetic caught our eye recently.
"Several studies show communication skills are the most essential skills for navigating American adult life — better communicators are hired more often, enjoy happier relationships and marriages, ascend to leadership positions, and possess higher self-esteem. The ability to manage personal emotions and to recognize them in others — also known as emotional intelligence — is a predictor of academic and professional success. These skills are often taught through Social Emotional Learning programs, offered in K-12 schools in 27 states.
But they are also a by-product of theater class, according to a recent study from George Mason University and the Commonwealth Theatre Center. The study follows children aged 5 to 18 over six years — the longest look at theater’s impact in kids to date — and finds increases in communication skills across age, gender and race. “The longer the kids spent in the theater classes, the more they gained in 21st century skills, like communication, creativity, imagination, problem solving, and collaboration,” says Thalia Goldstein, the study’s co-author and an associate professor of applied developmental psychology at George Mason University.
Theater involves “active learning” — getting up on your feet to take in information, rather than merely sitting at a desk. “When you put something in your body, it’s more durable, it lasts longer, and you remember it longer,” says Kathryn Dawson, associate professor of theater at the University of Texas at Austin. And theater involves more than one “mode”: verbalizing, while making a gesture or expression, which research shows boosts brain activity."
Keep reading the full article at the Washington Post. It is fascinating.