By Felipe Amado Quintana. Adjunct Professor in the area of Operations at IE Business School
I recently attended Courses Theater. This activity aroused my curiosity and I have perceived it as a source of learning. I have found many synergies between theatre and teaching in a Business School like IE, where students are not only a demanding audience but also active participants in their own learning process and professor takes a leading role in his work as a guide and motivator. I will explain the synergies I have found in this article.
Preparation: Previous preparation is very important for actors, and they normally use relaxation techniques and exercises to do so, like breathing exercises, suitable music, body relaxing movements, voice warm-up, etc. Each player decides how they relax before starting the performance. In the same way the teacher has to be prepared to teach their classes, rested and refreshed with mental clarity and ready to moderate a debate far away from stress and any distraction. The way to be prepared is up to each professor, each one feels that technique works best.
Script/Guideline: When acting, an actor needs to prepare a script and play a role. In the same way, a professor needs to follow a session guideline and try to communicate the principle learning topics of the session through an enriched debate.
Improvisation and participation: In the business cases methodology used in the business schools there is an added difficulty when comparing to theatre: “interaction with students”. The more similar theatre techniques are “improvisational theatre” and “participatory theatre”. Professor does not know in advance students’ answers, opinions or questions, even when the professor has experience. So professor has to improvise his answer to transform the student’s opinions into new questions to enrich the debate and reject participations out of place in order to deepen learning and focus the debate.
Listening capacity: In theatre academies and schools they teach the importance of active listening required by a good performance for creating emotive and real scenes and good links between actors. This capacity is also very important when talking about business case methodology where students participate constantly and their comments must be taken into consideration to build a cooperative knowledge and to create a customize, unique and different session each time.
Role-plays: Another possible synergy is the use of role plays during the session (not only face to face session but on line sessions too: videoconference or discussion board) to show real business situations between business men of the same areas of the organisation or different ones. Normally is very useful to illustrate different point of views and defending argumentations during the taking decision process. Another advantage of using role-plays is to gain dynamism and realism in the business case study. So it is very recommendable to encourage students to use role-plays for their presentations as well.
Diction and ability to speak in public: There are some more interesting abilities developed in theatre to apply in education like: ability to speak in public and being able to communicate clearly and with a perfect diction in order to be well understood by students.
Motivation, capturing attention and creating connecting themes: In theatre is very important to create attractive stories and to capture the full attention of the spectators with connecting themes. In the same way in education we need to motivate students in the learning process so they do not distract with the “technological noise” (whatsapp, social networks, internet and so on). At the same time, the professor has to establish appropriated connecting themes to add value and to communicate the most important topics at the end of the session.
Non-verbal communication: Another possible synergy is to learn how to use the non-verbal communication, which means to use all the possibilities to communicate your message: hands, body, facial expressions, so on. This is well taught and developed in theatre academies where they explore all the wide possibilities of non-verbal communication.
Teaching with a human touch and sensibility. Kinesthetic learning: In theatre performances the emotions are very important and actors want to convey feelings (sadness, illusion, frustration, happiness, anger, etc.). In adult education in business schools professor should teach not only specific knowledge and the newest tools of his area, but also should wrap each session with a human touch, values and skills to develop for example: social corporative responsibility, environment respect, team work, leading by example, respect for others, etc. This line of educating is called: kinaesthetic learning because it involves feelings and experiences in the learning process. These values will last and guide students during their professional career.
IE Business School was pioneer incorporating the humanities point of view in its programs to deal with the new approach of using creativity, so theatre suits perfectly with this approach and can definitely help in the learning process and the training of businessmen students to be the best executives in the immediate future.
Without any doubt there are plenty of synergies between teaching and theatre, so we can state the message of the famous song by the Cuban singer La Lupe: “Theatre, life is pure theatre”.