A participatory theater training strengthens our pedagogy
Walk into one of our classes and you will hear animated discussions, thoughtful questions, and copious laughter. We pride ourselves in the participatory nature of Projet Jeune Leader’s comprehensive sexuality classes, especially because we know that students learn best when they are actively engaged. A favorite teaching tool amongst our educators are role plays and skits. Students love them, meaning we get a higher rate of attention and information retention. More importantly, they are an effective and creative approach to engaging students in potentially-sensitive gender and sexual health topics.
But much as we understand the power of theater in the classroom, we have never had the opportunity to formally reinforce our educators’ capacity in this skillset. To solve this, Renata Thakurdyal, a Peace Corps Volunteer who extended her service with Projet Jeune Leader in Fianarantsoa, reached out to Zara Aina, a nonprofit that helps at-risk children in Madagascar harness the transformative power of theatrical storytelling and performance to expand their capacity for achievement, invest in their sense of possibility, and recognize their potential.
Renata and Edgar Rodríguez, Zara Aina’s Director of Community Engagement & Project Partnership, designed and led an inspiring training on participatory theater with our educators and supervisors on June 20th and 21st, 2019.
Over the course of two days, our team practiced writing scripts that more impactfully transmit key educational or social messages. We learned how to actively involve audiences by letting them identify solutions to a given scenario. As our Ambositra supervisor Vero Rasoamalala reflected after the training, “I now know how to motivate audience participation and better use skits to achieve a lesson’s objectives.” The team shared ideas for how to apply the technique to encourage more personal reflection amongst students on a topic, including showing them how they can be change agents to resolve a difficult situation.
“This training was fascinating because it will help improve how educators lead theater-based lessons. I think it could be incorporated in other trainings we do, like our trainings with parents and other community workshops,” Vero noted. We share her excitement about improving our pedagogical approaches with this new skill set on staff. Thank you, Zara Aina and Renata, for sharing your creativity, enthusiasm, and expertise!