Drama, Narrative, and Moral Education: Exploring Traditional Tales in the Primary Years

Drama, Narrative, and Moral Education: Exploring Traditional Tales in the Primary Years

Drama, Narrative, and Moral Education: Exploring Traditional Tales in the Primary Years

Drama, Narrative, and Moral Education: Exploring Traditional Tales in the Primary Years

Synopsis

Drama gives children an opportunity to work through moral problems, make decisions and take up moral positions. The author of this book explores a classroom approach which uses both drama and narrative to explore moral issues.

Excerpt

Early in 1992, I was asked to do some drama work with a class of 8-9-year-old children in a primary school local to the university where I work. The teacher wanted the drama to be centred around The Pied Piper and to stretch over four one-hour sessions. Looking again at Browning's (1993) version of the traditional tale, I was amused by the witty and ironic moralizing at the end of the poem but was also impressed by the ambivalent moral tensions created by the story. It managed to strike chords within me which could both celebrate the Piper's vengeance and yet feel sympathy for those who suffer such dire punishment, appealing at once to my rational sense of justice and my natural human sympathies.

I wondered if our drama might explore these conflicting moral tensions and, after some deliberation, decided to start the drama where the story ends, in the country to where the children are led beyond the mountain. Using freeze-frame, the children created images of a paradise in which they had everything they could possibly want, and chose to depict a land of ice-cream trees, computer games, funfairs and seemingly infinite leisure facilities. I decided to work against these images which represented happiness in purely materialistic terms. Casting myself in role as a small boy, I created my own image of an unhappy child, gazing broodingly into the distance and clutching a small, sponge ball in my hand. When asked to speculate, the children quickly agreed that this had been a gift from my parents, that I was home-sick and, after some questioning of the boy, they decided that they, too, would like to return home and see their families again. But how could they do this? In the ensuing drama, the children 'borrowed' the Piper's flute as he lay asleep, only to discover that its magic would not work for them. When confronted by myself in role as the angry and indignant Piper, they listened to his complaints against their parents and, in particular, the Mayor and agreed that the people of Hamelin had been wrong to break their promise but insisted that it was equally wrong for him to make them, the children, suffer for it. If they would agree to bring the Mayor back to face justice, would the Piper be prepared to let them go? The Piper was unsure as to whether he could trust them to return; and they were unsure whether he would release them if they did. Eventually both parties agreed to trust one another-but back in Hamelin the children found the Mayor to be a broken man, worn out and sick with worry and guilt over the catastrophe he had caused. Furthermore, he no longer had any money to pay

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