Six Reasons to Use Impro in Classrooms
Improv’s deceivingly simple game structures deliver complex educational benefits. Improv is not a fad. It is not going away. It is a pedagogical tool that supports learning and instruction in many ways.
- Classroom Friendly
- Skill Development
- Engages Learners
- Deepens Learning
- Increases Motivation
- Content Integration
Comedy in the classroom? How improv can promote literacy
"Humour is a tricky thing — what some find funny, others find distasteful. Nonetheless, the potential humour has always held — for both entertainment and social commentary — compels me to explore its possibilities for literacy instruction in the elementary school classroom."
As part of a recent research project, my team and I spoke with 10 professional comedians in Calgary, asking them how they might approach comedy in the classroom. Almost unanimously, they recommended improv as the best means for helping children find their funny selves, along with a number of benefits.
- Collaborative storytelling
- Flourishing creativity
- ‘You have to honour failure’
- Learning to take risks
Whose Classroom Is It, Anyway? Improvisation as a Teaching Tool
Ronald A. Berk The Johns Hopkins University Rosalind H. Trieber Towson University
There are four major instructional reasons for using improvisation in the classroom:
- It is consistent with the characteristics of the current generation of students, also known as the Net Generation (Carlson, 2005; Junco & Mastrodicasa, 2007; Oblinger & Oblinger, 2006a; Palfrey & Gasser, 2008; Tapscott, 1999, 2009) (aka Millennials [Howe & Strauss, 2000], born between 1982 and 2003), which has grown up with the technology— especially their desire to learn by inductive discovery, experientially, their need for social interaction and collaboration, their emotional openness, and their limited attention span;
- it taps into students’ multiple and emotional intelligences, particularly verbal/linguistic, visual/spatial, bodily/ kinesthetic, interpersonal, and intrapersonal;
- it fosters collaborative learning by helping to build trust, respect, and team spirit as well as listening, verbal and nonverbal communication, ad-libbing, role-playing, risk-taking, and storytelling skills; and
- it promotes deep learning through the active engagement with new ideas, concepts, or problems; linking the activities or tasks to prior learning; applying the content to real-life applications; and evaluating the logic and evidence presented.
Improv is especially beneficial for atypical kids, no matter their stripe. It helps children with learning and physical disabilities develop a sense of play, and enables the socially awkward intellectual to socialize more easily, Kulhan explains. Run-of-the-mill introverts, who might be reluctant to raise their hands or audition for the play, also gain from the experience, Criess says. When they know they’ll be supported no matter their answer, introspective kids thrive. “Introverts give improv its richness,” she says, adding that many improv instructors identify themselves as introverts.
And improv is liberating for those in fields like science, where emotional detachment is critical for success. The Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University offers a graduate course on improv to help emerging scientists convey their ideas without resorting to textbook speak or one-sided lectures. “Improv helps the scientist re-engage with their own passions in their work, get out of their head and connected to the needs of the listener, be able to respond more freely, spontaneously and flexibly,” says Valeri Lantz-Gefroh, the improvisation coordinator at Stony Brook.
10 reasons to use impro in the class room
by Second City
- Change the Vocabulary, Change the Behavior
- Free the Mind Now; Judge Later
- Build Public Speaking Skills
- Foster Collaboration in Groups
- Create Something That’s Truly Shared
- Use Multiple Intelligences
- Teach the Nitty-Gritty
- Present Multiple Points of View
- Discover New Stars
- Practice What You Preach