Curriculum connections at in-house festivals

by Simon Bell | 2 April 2020 | Posted in: Curriculum

We all understand the immense impact that an ISTA festival has on everyone involved – artists, teachers and of course most significantly, students. This impact is personal, social, cerebral, theatrical. One impact that we consider less is the curricular impact. The potential for curricular impact is perhaps greatest at ISTA’s In-house events. in-house festivals are by their very nature defined by the host school – sometimes one day, sometimes a whole week, sometimes with a specific group of selected students, sometimes with an entire year group.

The learning that takes place at an in-house festival is just as dynamic, creative and life changing as at a regular festival. Students are able to really dig into big ideas and discover, through the skills of the amazing artists who work with them, how to express their thinking in theatrical form. In some cases this is for the first time, which is always special to witness. In Vancouver I worked with primary school students, who had never taken Drama as a subject but clearly had a passion for creative approaches. It was wonderful to see them start to learn skills inherent to our discipline, even in the space of just a few days. One of the most exciting opportunities that an in-house festival offers is to reach students who we wouldn’t normally see at an ISTA festival through whole year group events, such as recent festivals in Zurich and Hong Kong. The learning that happens here is astonishing. At the end of the most recent Sha Tin CAS week festival, I used the Visible Thinking reflection prompt: ‘I used to think… I now think…’ and was bowled over by the answers that came back from the 200 plus 6th graders.

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