This semester I am helping at the high school again in the World Theatre class. We have completed the unit on Indonesian shadow puppet were the students created puppets and a scripted based on creations stories from around the world.
This past week we started the unit on telling stories through dance from around the world. This year I decided to start with Polynesian dance. I learned how to dance with poi balls when I was a kid from my aunt Marara. I loved it! So I decided to teach these kids about the Polynesian culture and how they shared their stories through dance.
It took us a week, but we made the poi balls in class.
Then we spent a week learning how to control the poi ball. Some students caught on and some students struggled. My co-worker is learning along side with the kids.
There are several reasons why I think teaching students about other cultures in a hands on way, such as through a study in world theatre, is good for education. Learning how culrures from around the world share their stories can help these students to appreciate the reality of human diversity and to develop empathy for people in all cultures. I am finding that a study in world theatre is helping these students to develop global awareness. It is encouraging these students to see things from a different perspective. My hope is that a study in world theatre will help them in the future to make informed decisions.
Sure, it’s entertaining. However, our study of world theatre is helping these students to understand customs, attitudes, values and even philosophies of life. These students are learning from the rich heritage other cultures have to offer. What they are learning has become both a window to understand others and a mirror that allows them to reflect more clearly on aspects of their own cultures.