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Montessori and Theatre?

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
Hi. Could someone tell me Montessori's stance on theatre and drama education? Is it in the schools at all? What ages? If they don't allow for pretend play does that mean no drama? I was a theater major and drama teacher for a public school so I really don't want to send my child somewhere that abhors or discourages it. Very confused here. I guess its been a long time since I learned about Montessori in college!
post #2 of 9
Montessori includes every subject area, Theatre not the least of them. In her writings, she discusses the elementary child putting on small plays every week, many of which are written by the children. Elem. is not my area of expertise, but it seems that many schools may fall a little short when it comes to drama. Montessori writes that it is the elem. aged child that is especially interested in fantasy and drama and this is accounted for in many of the presentations (esp. the "Great Stories"). There are mini presentations given spontaneously in the classroom all the time but as far as productions go, there should be more (IMO). Most schools do performances once or twice a year or drama is part of the after school program.
Here is one example of a well developed and exceptional Montessori theatre program:
http://youthoperaintl.com/ow_main.html
A new Montessori opera was written to commemorate the centenary,
check this out:
http://www.robertomolinelli.it/montessoriana.htm
For primary, performing before large groups is not expected at this age. We do "dramatic" things as part of the daily life of the Casa and there are plenty of opportunities to perform: storytelling, songs, dance, memorizing and reciting poems. The grace and courtesy lessons involve role-playing and the children also practice retelling stories with the "cultural stories". It's not that pretend play is "not allowed" in Montessori, it's just not presented. We find that when real life and purposeful activity is offered, the attention is engaged in a stronger state of concentration than when the child is pretending to do something. Of course, going along with the non-punitive and respectful nature of Montessori discipline, the child is never corrected/told not to play pretend. As a matter of fact, it doesn't come up that often, we're just too busy!
Also, try google (montessori and drama), some interesting sites come up.
post #3 of 9
I was working until last year in elementary II(well, Taller II, as I live in Mexico!), now I have a baby, so I'm staying home.
Drama is integrated in with the cultural areas. So for example, after a lesson about mexican history the kids deepen the subject, then write a play, do more research about the type of clothes they would wear in this particular time and make the scenography(it's that a word?is esenografia in spanish!). The kids are learning about history, language, art, math and geometry while putting up a play. We never know where a lesson is gonna end. I really like to work with 9 to 12 yo!
baby awakens
post #4 of 9
I think it would also depend on the individual school. I know of a M school in my area that, at the time of my tour, had an active theater group that performed regionally. This was either the upper elementary or middle school class.

My son's middle school puts on one or two plays a year.

It's very possible that you could be the parent who brings a stronger theater presence to a M school that your child attended!
post #5 of 9
Theater is a pretty big deal at our M school. It is the big cumulation of the year. The kids sometimes write the play themselves. They stage it, have lighting, scenery, etc. There is a smaller winter play as well.
post #6 of 9
We just had a long lecture about including theater and dramatic arts in our curriculum (I'm in my training program). My older dd, at her Montessori school, has just started rehearsing the spring musical which all the elementary students participate in!
post #7 of 9
The Montessori schools in our town and surrounding towns offer drama. My first grader often tells of "Experiences" that they do in class (like putting lotion on their hands then getting them sprinkled with glitter to see how germs are spread, then which mode of cleaning works best to remove them) There is a lot of open ended play.
post #8 of 9
Our elementary children put on an opera every year - are in the midst of costumes right now and very excited about it! Drama, singing, theater production in general are definitely emphasized....
post #9 of 9
Like many things in a Montessori school, it varies- that's the true answer

I taught drama in a M school for four years. This is my first year at a new school and I'm teaching music now. I can tell you that the use of theatre varies widely depending on the teachers and on the head of school. Ideally, I think that theatre would be integrated into the classroom just like visual art, music or any other type of "special" area should be. Practically, however, most teachers do not feel that they have strengths in all of these areas and some school as well feel that they would like to have "specialists" come in to teach these subjects.

When I was teaching, we had classes that the children came to in a classroom outside of their own and I created a curriculum that tied into things that the children were doing in the classroom as well as giving the children a lot of artistic license but exposing them to the basics of theatre studies, acting, improv, etc. I worked closely with the art and music teachers as well and it all seemed to be a great relationship.

Well, then we got a new head of school. One who wasn't Montessori trained but thought he knew more than those who were- that type - and he was "quietly" against having specialists in general, thought he finally came out and told us this. So, to make a long story short, I ended up teaching more music than drama, was told we shouldn't have any school-wide performance and was then left to tell the kids every day when they asked if we could do a musical like we did last year that we weren't allowed to. Ironically, the head of school eliminated these performances because he didn't want "adult run" performances- he wanted all things dramatic to be complete products from the kids which sounds great, but it doesn't happen. It's like hoping that a child will do long division one day without ever being taught math. They were aching for me to work on a play with them. Unfortunately, the children don't have any drama anymore, no more performances- though my classes were more focused on the process and not the product- and have very little time for fostering dramatic play in the classroom. They miss it terribly.

All in all, I'd say it totally depends on the school. I've seen schools that pride themselves on all the dramatic performances that they do and schools like the one I left where they've chosen to deemphasize it dramatically. Look for one that has a nice balance- I think it's important! And the kids love it. I feel really bad for my old students and I miss it myself.
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