Process & Content Evaluated

In the world of early childhood, science is presented to children as both process and content.*  Process skills are seen as how children learn, while content is what children learn.  Through experiences presented via a process methodology, children learn concrete information.  Remember, for example, the celery stalk in the glass of red food coloring experiment?  PictureBook Plays is no different.  It presents drama through a process methodology, giving children a reinforcement of or introduction to concrete information.

Recently, I had the opportunity to watch a drama teacher work with five year olds in an after school drama class.  They took a picture book, Caps for Sale, and assigned each student a part.  I double checked: the teacher had chosen the children based on how well she judged their ability to remember lines, speak loudly, and follow her (the adult’s) directions.  The “extra” children, who now knew they weren’t capable of these skills, were assigned activities such as making hats, painting the tree and caring for other props.

Now, before you say, “What’s wrong with this scenario?” consider what PictureBook Plays presents as process:

  • After you read and become familiar with a particular story, children are asked what parts would they like to try out, what props will they use?
  • When they “act out” the story, they take charge of the story.  Perhaps there are three peddlers – perhaps a child is even a tree or a hat – the difference is in the choice.
  • Children take charge of the process and in that process gain content.

And the content?  Self-assuredness, learning how to make a choice, and maybe even discovering how to take the “risk” of speaking loudly enough to be proud of being a peddler.  All this packaged up nicely becomes a child saying, “I am capable.”

Now go back and look at the process I observed in the after school program and decide for yourself what sort of content is the result of that particular teacher-led dramatic programming.

*Dodge, Colker, & Heroman, 2000. Creative curriculum for early childhood:  connecting content, teaching and learning. (3rd ed). Washington, DC: Teaching Strategies.

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