Telling Stories in School

There is lots to like about theatre in education.

Done well it engages pupils and allows them to explore complex subjects in a safe way.

Indeed one recently published paper concluded that the approach can have positive prevention outcomes.

Delivery of a youth-specific applied theatre prevention program employing a harm minimisation framework may be effective in reducing high-risk behaviours associated with alcohol consumption at celebratory events, even if young people expect to engage in excessive alcohol consumption.

But, evaluation of this sort is rare.  Rather more often we see this sort of justification:

By hearing Bill tell his story, the audience is taken through the whole disease and recovery process: they see how the illness begins insidiously, how it progresses, how it twists the mind and personality of the sufferer. They grapple with challenging questions: Why do some people have no will power after the first drink?, and Why can’t they drink normally after staying off it for a while? Finally, students will learn about the solutions to the problem and the responsible attitudes and actions that one has to take to recover from the addiction.

What is clear from the accompanying video is that the audience does engage with the story, but will that lead to healthier choices in their lives, we can’t know.

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