Promoting interculturalism, tolerance and diversity in the learning process

Teaching techniques: Drama and theatre exercises (Discouraging factor #2)

  • Factor #2: Discrimination on the basis of ethnicity or religion

Drama and theatre can be seen as an effective and accessible tool for addressing issues around equality, tolerance and inclusion and they are a creative approach towards provoking learners to participate and to express themselves with or without using their words.

Drama is an ideal way for promoting social change and the inclusion of marginalized groups within society. There is a wide range of participatory drama techniques, which can be used as a learning method even in such situations, which seem to be very difficult for promoting learning. Drama and theatre exercises can be used as a motivating factor for people with learning difficulties or low motivation for learning. They can unlock and bring to the surface many different life experiences through the use of imagination, dreaming, body work, symbol, imagery, visual arts, etc. and help to use them in an individual learning process. Drama and theatre can be also introduced in a group process which develops social learning, emotional intelligence, argument on values, spiritual thinking, intuition and other learning skills that have been recognized as essential elements in the learning process. Participatory drama is considered a democratic and critical device for learning, where both the “educators” and ”pupils” learn from each other, and more precisely learn and work together. (“Drama: A Way to Social Inclusion”, University of Turku, Centre for Extension Studies, Finland)

Educators using drama and theatre exercises have to encourage the creation of an environment where everyone feels safe and key principles of human rights are encouraged including fairness, respect for human dignity, respect for difference, tolerance and equality.  This is particularly important when working with a new group – the educator has to explain and identify guidelines for working together in order to create a creative and safe space.

Some principles that need to be respected by the whole group and the educator include:

  • Speaking without interrupting each other
  • Listening to each other which suggests willingness to understand and move on
  • Having respect for each other and for the educator, including valuing different opinions and differences
  • Do not judge others
  • Encouraging everyone to participate actively
  • Positive work environment and support for each other
  • Punctuality and respect for time management

Guidelines to educators using drama and theatre exercises:

  • Always be well prepared
  • Promote transparency and make sure that the aims and processes are clearly explained to the participants
  • Make sure that all voices are equally heard when you have a diversity of participation with representation from a broad range of traditions and geographical areas present
  • Ensure a workspace that is private, comfortable and large enough to accommodate the group
  • Try to encourage debate on difficult issues, which is an opportunity for dialogue and learning and can focus the group in terms of clarity of thinking and working towards an understanding of different perspectives. However, always be prepared for conflict management and ensure that all views are heard and explored.
  • Ensure that the discussion focuses on ideas and not people and that it is ok for people to have different views and opinions. Try to conclude by summing up all arguments presented.
  • Show attentive and empathic listening skills
  • Place an emphasis on openness, experimentation, risk taking and creativity

Below are some examples of using drama and theatre exercises: