Co-operative learning through drama
Febronia Maria Volatile tells of her experience as a primary school teacher in Sicily
My school is situated in a suburban area in Catania on the island of Sicily. Here many children come from a poor social and cultural environment, and in the majority of cases at least one member of the family, usually the father, is in prison. As a consequence they live in a non-supportive and threatening atmosphere.
When I was told to teach two classes where there were discipline problems and the children did not seem to be really interested in school I felt confused and powerless. These children refused school in ‘toto’. I did not know how to relate to them or their families.
I learnt how to deal with the problem with the help of UNESCO’s ‘Special Needs in the Classroom’ training pack We learnt that teachers must think of children as active participants in the learning process when planning curricular activities. In order to help children to develop positive attitudes towards school activities we helped them to develop their creative skills. A ‘theatrical laboratory’ was set up to give children a useful tool in linking fantasy and imagination with the real world and in making sense of everyday life.
In Catania, a city that deals with the problems of the Mafia everyday, it is important to make children aware of how beautiful life can be when we co-operate to make a better world. Teachers who understand their role in society as helping children to be students of life are much more likely to be able to change the negative aspects of society. The concept of sharing, of accepting rules governing the relationships between teacher and pupil, school and family, government and citizen, rebuild in children the concept of belonging.