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Participatory Eco-Drama

Levy IMG_1724

Originally appears in the Winter 2010-2011 issue

The children sit in a circle and stare intently at the felt vegetable puppets. “Go ahead”, I say, “pick one up with your partner.” A few groups approach the puppets, then a few more, until the entire class is interacting around the puppets. Some are making the puppets talk to one another, others are coming up with funny names for their new found friends or hiding behind the puppet stage improvising a new veggie puppet show. “Hey there Broco, guess what! We gotta hide from the sprayers coming tomorrow!! I just found out. Ahhh! Arghhh!” The students clamber away loudly. It is the conclusion of a social studies workshop for Grade 4’s. We’ve had lots of fun learning about our food system and the importance of biodiversity and local agriculture.

How was it done?  The workshop employed performance as a tool to explore and learn about complex issues. It empowers students to think critically and creatively, to be vulnerable and engaged, to be active about their learning about the earth. I call it eco-drama. It can take a host of forms and is a consistently inclusive forum in which everyone can participate.  That’s why it works.

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Dalia Levy, B.A. is a self-employed, eco-drama/art practitioner, artisan and urban farmer who lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, and blogs at www.eartharts.wordpress.com.