By KAY TIPPETT | Community columnist
When I was in Prattville High School, we didn’t have a theater department. We had a teacher, Mrs. Cox, who took on the responsibility of producing a high school play. We had no classes or workshops. We just got together and did it. I learned theater makeup and how to French braid my hair. I made friends with people who were not part of my usual social circle. It was a good experience, but that was the end. As a student, I was totally unaware of the impact this experience had on my life.
Now, as an educator, I know the truth. Most of us learn more by doing than by hearing or seeing. Knowing something does not mean that we have mastered something. We don’t have intimate knowledge of a concept until we apply it in a real situation. Now consider the arts. A student who learns to play an instrument not only enriches their life with music, but research shows that it improves their concentration and perseverance, which in turn improves their performance in school. Students who take art classes improve their language and motor skills. They learn to take risks in a safe environment and to be inventive. A student who does drama learns to express herself in a crowd and to control her emotions in difficult and stressful situations. These youngsters learn the power of memorization and practice to improve their skills. In “Creativity and Academics: The Power of an Arts Education”, says Neil Swapp, “Through the arts, students develop skills such as resilience, courage and a growth mindset to help them master their craft. , succeed in school, and succeed in life after high school.”
On February 28, the Chilton County High School Theater Arts Guild held its fifth Mime Day. The students dressed in Mime costumes, complete with makeup, and spent the whole day in silence, communicating with body movements and gestures. Some carried whiteboards. Some used the technology in their hands to use computerized voices, but they did not speak. They got a grade in drama class for this activity, and it surprised some people, but it shouldn’t. Going a whole day without speaking teaches them just how mutes exist in the world. This forces them to resort to other forms of communication. They become more aware of their own facial expressions and those of others. They listen more carefully. They exercise their ability to control themselves. Dressing in costume prepares them to wear uniforms or work clothes for jobs and careers. Creating a Mime face pushes them to be creative and bold. They get to know each other by pretending, just for a day, to be someone else.
This is important in the current climate we are experiencing. We’ve become so addicted to technology, and every man, woman, and child is glued to some kind of screen. There’s nothing wrong with using technology, but what are we giving up to spend so much time on screens? To ensure our continued growth as a society, we must encourage our children to venture into the unknown. We have to create, not just watch what is happening around us. Discovering cures for diseases and new ways to treat problems only happens when we are inventive and bold. Encourage your child to be bold. You can do this by simply visiting an art museum on a hot summer day. Visit the local music store and invest in a guitar or harmonica. When your kids choose classes, encourage them to try group or drama. Visit CCHS when we produce another play, so they can see other students trying something challenging. Take them to see a play at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival instead of a movie. (Ticket prices are a bit higher, but when you cut out the popcorn and snacks, your wallet won’t feel it.) You’ll also appreciate the investment you’re making in their future as they become more individual individuals. balanced and will find more success and happiness in life.