Science and Theatre Education: A Cross-disciplinary Approach of Scientific Ideas Addressed to Student Teachers of Early Childhood Education

Abstract

There is, in Greece, an ongoing attempt to breach the boundaries established between the different teaching-learning subjects of compulsory education. In this context, we are interested in exploring to what degree the teaching and learning of ideas from the sciences’ “internal life” (Hacking, in: Pickering (ed) Science as practice and culture, 1992) benefits from creatively coming into contact with theatrical education as part of the corresponding curriculum subject. To this end, 57 students of the Early Childhood Education Department of the University of Athens were called to study extracts from Galileo’s Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, Ptolemaic and Copernican, to focus on a subject that the Dialogue’s “interlocutors” forcefully disagree about and to theatrically represent (using shadow theatre techniques) what they considered as being the central idea of this clash of opinions. The results indicate that this attempt leads to a satisfactory understanding of ideas relating to the content and methodology of the natural sciences. At the same time, theatrical education avails itself of the representation of scientific ideas and avoids the clichés and hackneyed techniques that the (often) simplistic choices available in the educational context of early childhood education tend towards. The basic reasons for both facets of this success are: (a) Genuine scientific texts force the students to approach them with seriousness, and all the more so if these recount the manner in which scientific ideas are produced and are embedded in the historical and social context of the age that created them; (b) The theatrical framework, which essentially guides the students’ activities, allows (if not obliges) them to approach scientific issues creatively; in other words, it allows them to create something related to science and recognize it as theirs; and, (c) Both the narrative texts describing processes of “science making” (Bruner, J Sci Educ Technol 1:5–12, 1992) and theatrical expression constitute fields that are characterized by what, for the students, is a common and understandable manner of expression: the narrative.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Translated by Margarita Koulentianou for the project “Kapodistrias 2006–07”.

  2. 2.

    The title paraphrases a common Greek proverb: “Hold me and I’ll hold you and together we shall scale the mountain” of which no equivalent containing the word mountain could be found in English, which is, of course, a key word in the title.

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Correspondence to Vasilis Tselfes.

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Tselfes, V., Paroussi, A. Science and Theatre Education: A Cross-disciplinary Approach of Scientific Ideas Addressed to Student Teachers of Early Childhood Education. Sci & Educ 18, 1115–1134 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11191-008-9158-2

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Keywords

  • Science education
  • Theatre education
  • Teachers education
  • Early childhood education
  • Cross-disciplinarily