The role of drama
Drama requires impersonation, personification and role-play involvement. It is an ideal methodology for the teaching of history, as
- the involvement of children in roleplaying means they will empathise with characters in the past and come to defend their actions against the arguments of others
- drama aims to re-create human experience. The pupil-actor is personally affected by the experience and this motivates him/her to know and understand more
- drama mitigates against a simplistic approach to a topic. All points of view are articulated so that situations are no longer viewed in ‘back or white’ terms.
Organising the drama lesson
Drama-based history lessons aim to enable the child to speak or act as their character would have done. Almost any topic, story or event can become the basis of a drama experience for children.
Two types of lesson structure are suited to the teaching of history:
- the talk-through method, which is most suitable for younger classes. The onus is on the teacher to provide and present all the motivation and information for the action
- the role-play method , in which pupils are furnished with information on their characters and they articulate this ‘in role’ to the rest of the classes
EXEMPLAR 16 - A 'talk-through' lesson: 18th-century emigration from Ulster (fourth to sixth classes)
EXEMPLAR 17 - The 'role-play' method: The Great Famine (fifth and sixth classes)