How a school-wide drama for learning initiative is changing Heritage School, Vasant Kunj

Q & A with Ms Sunita Swaraj, Principal, Heritage School, Vasant Kunj Delhi.

What motivated you to  use drama  as a pedagogical tool in your school?

Pedagogy means a process through which requisite Knowledge can be shared with the learner. When we look at a Class, we have learners coming from various backgrounds and varied experiences. Thus, I feel that Teachers job is the toughest job to get through all the learners by connecting to them and making sure that the learner acquires the Knowledge. At the same time, it is not enough for a School to be contented by teaching only Subjects to a 21st Century learner. It is inevitable for a School to make sure that the learners build, Emotional Intelligence, there is Integral development of personality which includes Self-control, Collaboration, Negotiation, Sharing, Empathy; there is generation of sociability or social awareness; People management Skills, Originality, Critical Thinking, Design and System Thinking, are a part of our learners, which I feel can easily come through if it becomes a conscious part of the pedagogy and Drama for Learning is tool which completes this objective alongside making learning fun.

What has been the impact of linking drama with the curriculum on the learning and teaching culture of your school ?

Cognitive, emotional, and environmental influences, as well as prior experience, all play a part in how understanding, or a worldview, is acquired or changed and knowledge and skills are retained. Drama for Learning aligns to the philosophy of our school that learners must be exposed to all such influences, which help them gain complete and comprehensive of the World and its affairs. The tool provides enough freedom to the learners to express themselves, research and teach their peer group. Here, role of the teacher only becomes that of the Facilitator. If every teacher is empowered with drama skills , the entire pedagogy in India can change  and our children who are the leaders of tomorrow will be empowered to bring about a radical change in our system.

Has the drama training helped the teaching body in their collective collaborative practices?  In what ways?

Drama  has  helped  our  teachers  both  professionally and  personally. As it takes time to acquire  Drama for Learning  Skills, to lay the foundation , we began with Junior School Teachers. Into  their  fourth training  module, I see a shift  in the way they interact both  inside  and outside  the classroom with  different stakeholders, including management and parents . 

 We  therefore decided to train  middle  and senior school teachers , who  initially resisted  saying this was not for older children. But as adults they enjoyed the sessions and themselves suggested using drama  for senior classes. Drama for Learning is slowly getting into our system and  I am sure we will  be a Drama for Learning empowered school within 2-3 years. Theatre Professionals are supporting us by customizing Drama for Learning Curriculum for each Program ie Junior, Middle and Senior School learners.

How does drama fit into your future school development plans?​

As a school we are aiming at 21st Century Skills in our learners, which will definitely be enhanced through Drama for Learning as a Pedagogical Tool. I envision Heritage to be a student-driven School, with the  Teachers and  Principal in a  Consultative Role.  Children can lead  only  if  empowered  with Skills like Creativity and Innovation, Critical Thinking and Problem Solving, Communication, Flexibility and Adaptability, Initiative and Self Direction, Social and Cross Cultural Skills, Leadership and Responsibility, Collaboration and many more. Drama for Learning is a tool that helps consolidate these Skills and make our learners learn the same in fun way.