There is Life After the Thesis

After chronicling my thoughts, feelings, ideas, and experiences throughout the thesis process on this blog (formerly entitled Rites of a Thesis), it seemed odd to me to simply let the blog go just because I had turned in my thesis and graduated. I don't want to merely "shelve" my thesis nor do I want all that I got from my time at Naropa to lie dormant. I want my thesis to continue to live and breathe and become, and I would like all the teachings and experiences I had during my time at Naropa to do the same. So I am keeping the blog (changing the title), and am commiting to myself to (w)rite on as I journey forward.

Monday, April 5, 2010

PLAYing Around

It's late. I can't think of a thing to post this evening that is thesis-oriented nor really awareness-oriented, or even political...except: Grrr...well, don't get me started.

Legislation was approved regarding a bill in Arizona that would require eighth graders to MEMORIZE questions from the U.S. citizenship exam, in order to pass eighth grade. The information wouldn't be taught in class. The questions and answers would be posted on school's websites so that students could MEMORIZE them. Hmmm...Lots of learning and understanding happening there. Here's the website, should you care to see how much farther downhill Arizona can go in terms of education:

Anyway - I am about to go to bed and I don't want to go there angry and have icky dreams.

I spent the past few hours working on revising two plays that my students are currently working on in drama. I wrote both plays quite awhile back for my fourth grade students when I taught in a private school just North of Chicago. Currently, I am revising them and adding eight more characters to one of the plays and ten more to the other, so that my students can rehearse them and perform them them as their Drama final in May.

The article above regarding the new education legislation has me angry. I don't want my students - any students - to simply memorize facts, or even lines for a play, simply to memorize them and then forget them. Learning by rote is just fine, if one is using that as a tool to get to the heart of something. For example: it's often quite good to learn your lines by rote, so that when you are in rehearsals, you aren't intoning the line with false emotion. It is so important to make character discoveries and relationship discoveries in the moment, during rehearsals (and, in live theatre - even during performance, albeit in much more subtle ways).

I am not against learning certain facts by rote either. But after the initial memorization, one must go deeper to understand exactly what one learned. What is the significance/meaning of what was memorized. How doe s this information connect with other information? Where does it fall into a bigger picture? If information is simply memorized with no real content behind it, as soon as the information is "spit" back out, it doesn't typically remain in the brain, in the psyche, or in the body. Poof - it goes away.

Though my students are asked to memorize their lines a week after they receive a section (I am giving my students the plays in piecemeal), they are encouraged to get their heads out of their scripts and relate to one another. They need to know what they are actually saying, not simply saying lines because they're there on the page. They need to know what their character's objective is (what the character wants) and stay focused on that. They need to be aware of their bodies on stage.

While I've been "play"ing around this evening, I don't find this new Bill to be anything near funny, and I think it has some very serious implications for Arizona's children and their education.

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