Live Theater—Not Just for Entertainment!

Each year, the sixth graders attend The Ford Theater’s performance of A Christmas Carol.  It’s a tradition that the students love, and after they have read the classic tale, the performance brings the story to life.  Upper school students often see Shakespeare productions as well as other local live performances in the Washington, D.C. area as these field trips are an essential part of the curriculum at Westminster School.  Each grade actually performs a play each year with every student given a speaking part.  By the time a student graduates, he or she will have participated in or seen almost 100 live performances including outside field trips.

These performances are entertaining, of course!  However, with each performance, the students are learning and growing in many different ways.  A recent study published in Education Next has determined that attending live theater can actually lead to “enhanced knowledge of the plot, increased vocabulary, greater tolerance and improved ability to read the emotions of others.”  These are skills that cannot be replicated by watching a movie.  The entire experience of seeing the performance live contributes to the overall benefits to the students. 

According to the study results, students who attended live performance of the play “also scored higher on the study’s tolerance measure than the control group by a moderately large margin and were better able to recognize and appreciate what other people think and feel.”  What a great benefit to seeing live theater! 

More information can be found online at http://educationnext.org/learning-live-theater/

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