At YAT, we use cutting-edge theatre techniques, but we are also on top of the best practices in education. For us, theatre is a tool to get students on the path to being proactive learners who feel empowered to take a hold of their own education.
Recently, we got our hands on a book called Becoming Brilliant: What Science Tells Us About Raising Successful Children by Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, PhD, and Roberta Michnick Golinkoff, PhD. The gist of the book is to examine education practices and connect that to the science of the developing brain. They’re asking, “What are we doing that works and is supported by what we know of how children grow?” and, arguably more importantly, “What are we doing that really doesn’t make sense when you look at how children grow?”
In light of that, the authors created a “21st century report card.” Instead of grading on the regurgitation of information in different subject areas, they grade students on the 6 C’s: collaboration, communication, content, critical thinking, creative innovation and confidence.
Basically, it’s about creating an environment where students are constantly challenged and called upon to figure things out themselves. Although, really, why restrict this grading system to youth? Everyone should be thinking about incorporating these things into their lives.
An integral part of creating that kind of environment is having teachers who know how to incorporate and foster those 6 C’s no matter what they’re actually teaching.
"Teachers who find their kids' ideas fascinating are just better teachers than teachers who find the subject matter fascinating," Philip Sadler, a professor of astronomy and the director of the science education department at Harvard University, says. So, for example, if a student gives a wrong answer, the important thing is to be interested in why that student thought that way, and to give them the experience to find their own way to the right answer.
We could tell you about how all of this connects to YAT’s core values, we could pull out quotes from our student manual or from the language we use to train our teachers. But instead, we’ll let our students tell you how they have grown after a session at YAT.
“When I started YAT, I was really shy and scared to talk to all of the other kids, but now after being here for only one session, I'm able to start new conversations with people I've never even seen before. And that alone makes me feel better about myself.”
“I've learned a lot about being okay with making mistakes. I've learned to be brave through the moments when things don't work out the first time (and I'm a lot happier because of it).”
“I feel like I have more confidence in myself and have stopped comparing myself to others in a bad way.”
“I have grown exponentially in my confidence since the beginning of this session. I'm not afraid to share my ideas with my cast, I'm not afraid to fail in front of others, and I'm learning how to be comfortable with movement, even though it's scary.”
“I have grown by being able to make mistakes in front of other people and knowing how to learn from them.”
One of the authors of Becoming Brilliant says, “E.O. Wilson, one of my heroes, the biologist, says we're drowning in information and starved for wisdom.” Students lack a deep dive into content, don’t get multiple points of view, don’t get to see information come together and synthesize. That’s exactly what we do in devising a show. They are an integral part of that process and at the end, they understand that the important thing they gained was not learning how to memorize lines or successfully performing a movement sequence, although those are accomplishments in their own right. Our students know that what they learn are skills they can apply in other areas of their life.