The Role of Drama in Classical Education at LCA

by Carolan Brown, Primary Program Drama Teacher

What is the role of Drama in Classical Education at LCA? At first, one might think it unnecessary, even a distraction.  Perhaps one might feel it is a waste of valuable time that might be better devoted to the acquisition of facts and formulas to deliver on a quantified exam.  Indeed, many view the role of Drama in our world today as limited to that of something extra, its sole purpose being the entertainment of an audience.

In nearly thirty years of working with students of all ages/levels in schools of all shapes and sizes in the U.S. and Canada, I have found students increasingly result-oriented.  They have become laser-focused on outcomes only, instead of being captivated by the practice and mastery of a process that leads to a given useful skill.  They want only the “right” answer or the “correct” analysis. And they find it devastating when what they have planned doesn’t happen, finding it impossible to accept any moment that differs from a perceived “perfect” outcome.  They are afraid of making mistakes, and they are increasingly unable to focus on a lesson unless its validity can be proven ahead of starting it.

I have also found one other thing to be true.  I can’t “teach” anyone anything. What I can do, however, is design experiences through which a student can figure something out for him or herself and then gain practice with the very connections that he or she has made.  Drama is a valuable and available resource for the very experiences through which students plant and grow the Habits of Mind and cultivate the practice of Shared Inquiry.   

I can think of no better laboratory to grasp and practice what is at the heart of LCA than that which Drama provides. Last year, inspired by LCA founders, faculty, and staff, I designed twice-weekly Drama experiences around all 16 habits.  I presented them to student groups as “themes”, and was thrilled when upon arrival in Collins Hall, they couldn’t wait to find out which one we would be working with that day.   

It is a joy to watch students spring to life with discovery and connect with one another while participating in what is on the surface only a drama game. In reality, the “game” is so much more: a carefully designed experience through which they can make their own true connections with a given habit of mind and feel what it is to own it.

We want to help our children acquire their own individualized tools that help them lead lives in which they are fully present and able to find purpose. Through Drama, the ancient Greeks found a platform for the exploration of feelings, knowledge, and ideas, leading to a greater understanding of the world.  At Woodbourne Campus, we continue this tradition.