‘Drama education is education conducted through drama. Learning is deepened as students step into different roles and experience their situations. It is very effective in exploring human emotions and thoughts.’
Drama education was introduced to the OUHK by Dr Jack Shu Chiyee, Associate Professor of the School of Education and Languages.
During the 2000 Education Reform, a pilot scheme was launched to bring drama into local school classrooms, and Dr Shu was one of the experts involved in curriculum design and teacher training. He joined the OUHK in 2007 and later proposed new courses on drama education, which he has been teaching ever since.
As the name suggests, drama education is education conducted through drama. Learning is deepened as students step into different roles and experience their situations. ‘Drama education is an applied art,’ explains Dr Shu. ‘It is very effective in exploring human emotions and thoughts, so it suits lessons on the humanities, languages and life education best.’ The OUHK programme includes two assignments, namely forum theatre and curriculum design, to ensure that students put theory into practice.
Dr Shu’s interest in performing arts was sparked off by his first experience with the stage during his secondary school years. Back then he was a science student, but at university he studied English literature and became fascinated by the world of fiction. Upon graduation, he started out as a magazine editor and soon set his heart on being a teacher. This didn’t work out immediately, yet as if by destiny, around that time he met his MPhil supervisor who was active in the theatre. Under his influence, he went on to study drama education in England and found his vocation. ‘Drama is a vector for all sorts of human emotions,’ he explains. It is this emotional appeal that draws people of different age groups and backgrounds to drama equally. Drama can even be used for therapy, as his ethnodrama project on ex-gambling addicts last year demonstrates.
Kenneth Lau was one of Dr Shu’s first students in drama education at the OUHK. Both teacher and student have made use of the power of drama to provoke thoughts about life and death this year, one on the theatre stage and the other on the silver screen. Dr Shu sees his recent President’s Award for Teaching Excellence as a great honour as well as a sign that the University recognizes the interactive teaching value of drama education. He hopes that support for programme and facility development will be further enhanced in future.