Process Drama for 21st Century Learning: Building Multiliteracies and Creative-Adaptive Capacity

By Shamini Dias.

Published by The International Journal of Literacies

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Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper builds a case for the serious consideration of process drama as an effective and relevant pedagogy for the twenty-first century. Today, we witness the outcomes of a paradigm shift from an industrial economy to a post-industrial, postmodern, creative and knowledge economy. Our world is marked by accelerating change and multiplicity that are paradoxically inter-connected into a global economy through rapidly developing technological communication and information networks. We, therefore, live in an organic, dynamically evolving knowledge space that constantly shapes and re-shapes our lives and identities. As educators, we are charged to prepare students to be effective knowledge makers. This means focusing on multiliteracies, which enable students to access, sense-make, query, deconstruct, and re-construct knowledge using multiple modes beyond reading and writing. These include audio, visual, gestural, physical communication in both traditional and digital forms. However, these skills cannot be effectively nurtured without also building the adaptive capacities of flexibility and resilience that enable us to deal with unpredictable and rapidly shifting information and knowledge. These skills also demand creative capacities of openness and precision that support collaborative and divergent ways of working to find new pathways for thinking and building knowledge. This paper synthesizes these creative-adaptive capacities with the New London Group’s (1996, 2000) four-part design pedagogy for multiliteracies (overt instruction, situated practice, critical framing, and transformed practice). This synthesis demonstrates how process drama, or unscripted and facilitated role-play drama, offers us pathways for helping students develop multiliteracies and learning skills for the twenty-first century. The paper shows how process drama engages students in situated learning, using overt instruction as a facilitation process in collaborative, improvisational role-playing through critical framing and transformed practice. Process drama is, thus, shown to be a viable approach for multiliteracies development. Implications for action and further research are suggested.

Keywords: Process Drama, Literacy Development, Literacy Pedagogy, 21st Century Skills, Multiliteracies, Creative-Adaptive Capacities

The International Journal of Literacies, Volume 19, Issue 4, pp.27-40. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 554.241KB).

Dr. Shamini Dias

Doctoral Candidate, School of Education, Claremont Graduate University, Claremont, California, USA

Shamini is a researcher and Director of the Preparing Future Faculty program at Claremont Graduate University, Claremont, California. Her research focuses on imagination and adaptive capacity as a core skill for learning in the 21st century, specifically in the development of literacy and information literacy skills in a knowledge economy. She has a transdisciplinary research interest in exploring meaning-making processes integrating research in art, mindfulness, positive psychology, and literature. Shamini has also been an education consultant in Singapore, working with schools and businesses to advocate and develop creative approaches to literacy, communication, thinking, and leadership development. Between 1997 and 2001, she was the Director of the Written Language Arts programme, and Director for Curriculum and Publishing at the Julia Gabriel Speech & Drama Centre, Singapore. Shamini has presented workshops on creative approaches to literacy, leadership, and life skills at regional conferences for the International Reading Association, Singapore and LitCon, Malaysia, as well as at international conferences for NAEYC (National Association of the Education of Young Children), ACEI (Association for Childhood Education International), the American Educational Research Association (AERA), and the Imaginative Education Research Group (IERG).