Conference 2008 – «Theatre & Education at Center Stage»
Society at the beginning of the 21st century is subject to groundbreaking changes.
Globalization and often commercialization of cultures and principles together with the weakening of the notion of community, which used to be a solid base for the formation of self-perception and belonging, have negative consequences in the life and development of many young people. The environmental problems, the violations of human rights and children's rights, social injustice, conflicts, conflagrations and forceful movement of people overshadow the impressive leaps of science and technology. What is the role theatre/drama can play in education in this context? What can it offer? What does research show happens when children and young adults participate in theatrical processes?
Even though the words theatre and drama was bequeathed to us by ancient Greek language and civilization, which considered theatre as education ("didaskalia"), we nowadays need to constantly struggle to remind this aspect of theatre. A struggle with obstacles, because while the pedagogical value and humanizing potential of theatre/drama in its various facets is recognized in theory, it seems to be underestimated in practice. For most planners of educational policy, the academic route in learning appears to be dominant and in many cases exclusive. Most of the formal educational systems, practically ignorant of old and new scientific theories on experiential learning, multiple intelligences and wholesome development of the person, are fixated on desk-based teaching and learning. Despite the rising disappointment and indifference of many students towards school, but also the increasing number of educators who are enthusiastic about the multiple benefits of theatre/drama in schools, most formal school curricula reflect the stance that knowledge is a bundle of information to be consumed principally for the acquisition of titles. However, practice proves that things are changing and that our role (of educators, academics, artists, facilitators, university and school students) as agents of change is definitive. We are aware that despite the positive developments in many countries we still have a long way to cover until we succeed in having theatre/drama play a central role in the young people's lives inside and outside school. Our love and passion for education and theatre have a lot to contribute towards this goal.
Since its founding in 1998, Hellenic Theatre/Drama & Education Network has constituted an open space of dialogue of many and different aspects of theatre/drama in education. Summarizing all the previous conferences, 2008 Conference is a celebration for the Network's ten years, focusing on old and new issues revolving around theatre in education. These issues regard formal education (planning and evaluation of analytical programmes, multidisciplinary projects, teachers' training, artists in schools, music and arts education), social and cultural changes (intercultural issues and social integration, conflict management and resolution, addictions, special needs, environmental issues, artistic creativity), politics (the role of education through art, design and implementation of education through art, priorities and moral issues, the role of universities, governmental and non-governmental institutions), new aspects of theatrical art, research and practice.
It is necessary to redefine the goals and aims of education in general and education through art in particular.
It is necessary to foster the nurturing of imagination, the dialectic-participatory learning and critical thinking, cooperation and solidarity.
It is necessary to connect the school with the community through creative bonds, beyond the demands of national and international markets.
It is necessary to pose questions, to question anything "given".
It is necessary to promote the results of research which show that theatre is a dynamic factor of positive change in the lives of children and youth.
It is necessary to celebrate and bring Theatre/Drama in Education... center stage.
2008 Conference encourages the approach to the above through: Theatre/Drama in education as an artform, as an educational medium and instructional tool, as a medium for social action Theatre in the Community, Theatre for Development, Drama pedagogical programmes, Theatrical Game, Dramatherapy and Psychodrama, musicokinetic therapy, object and shadow theatre, dance and theatrical dance, audiovisual education (photography, video, cinema, media) and other aspects of practice and research for theatre and performative arts in education.
Conference 2008 includes talks by invited speakers, special interest groups, workshops, artistic events, school visits (on Thursday morning 27/3/2008 and Friday morning), free entrance or discounts in plays in theatres around Athens, Master Workshops (24-27/3 and 31/3- 2/4/2008) and training events in Athens, Piraeus, Irakleio (Crete) and Thessaloniki (22/3 - 5/4/2008).
It also includes the 2nd International Meeting International Partnerships with the participation of the international networks IDEA-Europe, EuroMed & South East Europe Young Theatre Voices, as well as the Platform for Arts in Education. Conference 2008 celebrates the 10 years of the Hellenic Theatre/Drama & Education Network's operation.