Productions are a great way for the school community to come together to sing, dance and share stories. It gives time to the often neglected parts of the school curriculum, performing arts as well as the verbal language aspect of the English curriculum. Kids get to dress up, done costumes and enjoy performing in front of an authentic on stage. There’s nothing like the raw energy the night before a performance,
But there is a downside.
Each year teachers put pressure on themselves and the kids to ensure that the production is at least as good or even better than previous efforts. Some teachers even get competitive trying to out do eachother.
Lessons give way to rehearsals, props and costumes get more elaborate and there is a greater need for high-end tech support.
The focus comes off the learning.
Of course production is the learning and in primary schools everyone gets a part. In reality, this often means a few kids really getting a chance to shine on stage with a lot of kids cast as extras. Production for many children involves spending a lot of time waiting and watching, the antithesis of inquiry learning.
After rethinking assembly, my phase decided to think more about the traditional school production. We opted for a Festival of the Arts where each class explored the idea ‘Cultures express themselves through the Arts’ from a different discipline. We didn’t do the same thing.
Building on our day out exploring Singapore, my class put on a photography exhibition to showcase the photos that will be displayed at a children’s photography exhibition in New Zealand. They also decided to create a kids’ travel guide to Singapore iBook to share their photos and to inspire other children to explore the city.
The class and a visitor to the exhibition from the New Zealand High Commission. In accordance with New Zealand tradition, the class prepared an action song of welcome in Maori for the visitor.
The best part?
Instead of politely clapping, the rest of the classes and the parents in the audience responded with the custom of returning the song to acknowledge the children.
As a result of this festival the children in my class:
- Expressed themselves through song, dance and photography.
- Connected with the community beyond school.
- Showed tolerance and curiosity through learning to sing in another language and participating in new cultural traditions.
- Gained a new appreciation of Singaporean culture, their home culture and New Zealand’s Maori culture.
- Learned about different forms of arts by viewing other children’s learning.
- Took action as a result of a learning experience.
Productions still have their place in our highly crowded school calendars. But maybe more frequent, smaller scale events that have a purpose are preferable to one-off extravaganzas to tick the performing arts box for the year.
It all comes down to purpose.
How many school events exist because ‘it has always been done that way?’