Role Play – staging - theatre, game
The use of Role Play in teaching and learning contexts is a tried-and-tested, hugely powerful technique which consists of the playing out of individual roles in short, uncomplicated scenes known as 'communication situations'. Based on the experiences of practitioners in a Polish Junior High school, this is a reflection on the factors that make for effective 'role play' situations.
Purpose and process
The aim of role play is to enable students to develop appropriate ways of behaving in different everyday situations through first acting them out in simulated situations and having the opportunity to reflect on the outcomes of one's actions. Role play is like a game in which individuals not only engage in 'imitating life' but also enter the 'real' world of emotions and feelings. Common characteristics of role play:
- Players follow a lead actor who plays out the role of author of the script, as well as director and narrator; they have to improvise and react to situations they are put in by the lead actor.
- The whole game is almost entirely based on verbal descriptions, occasionally supported by music, with the lead actor describing the other players' surroundings and any actions being carried out by other characters; the players, however, describe the actions carried out by their own characters.
- The lead actor (usually supported by a set of rules) is responsible for deciding which of the actions carried out by the players will give a desired result, and which won’t.
- The degree to which players are allowed to identify with the characters they are playing – through speaking in the first person, using props or physical contact with other players – is usually negotiable and depends entirely on how deep the players get involved in the game.
- Explore their own emotions, feelings and behaviours/reactions in an imaginary context
- Build an understanding and appreciation of others' viewpoints and responses when faced with similar situations
- Learn to interpret situations, search for possible solutions, make decisions on what would be the most appropriate course of action and then act accordingly
- Develop teamwork and leadership skills, as well as skills of communication, improvisation and negotiation
Curricular or thematic relevance
Role play can effectively add value to learning in many subjects within the national curriculum as long as teachers are prepared to adopt 'non-standard' pedagogies
How to organise:
Can be used in timetabled lessons, suspended timetable time or as part of an extra-curricular activity
Assessment and evaluation approaches
Post-role play discussion and evaluation by the students themselves offers an excellent opportunity for teachers to assess learning gained or attitudes altered as a direct result of the experience; they may also observe changes in behaviour over time as a result of testing out a particular approach during role play
Making decisions In the company “Oil Waterfall”
(a fragment of a contest question “Teenage Entrepreneurial Battle” organized by Gdansk University – author: Secondary school no. 6 students in Koszalin – main prize)
Natalia Rokefelerska (boss): I am happy that everyone came to this meeting. As you all know we have a lot of issues, however the main reason why we have met is to make a decision concerning financing of our company – and most importantly it will hopefully be a fruitful start up. I have prepared three options: business partner, loan, and help from family. Nevertheless, this is quite important for our activity, that is why I would like for each person to give their so called “piece of mind”.
Jolanta Lecka (accountant): In the past I dealt with accounting and I’ve graduated from finance, thus I have some knowledge about loans. With all certainty, these are additional financing sources which allow us to finance investments with a small or even zero amount of private funding, which in the long run is a more beneficial solution. An additional attribute is that we have a long schedule for repayment and can choose what currency we would like to take the loan in. Nonetheless, I would suggest PLN zloty as the best currency.
Aldona Wibowicz (legal advisor): Jola my dear, you forgot about drawbacks. My friends husband opened a company and took out a loan, however the company did not bring in too much profit and he didn’t have enough money to pay off the loan, and as you all know, loans are encumbered with numerous legal sanctions, which can lead a company to bankruptcy when not paying borrowed money. This also happened, and the company stopped existing. That is the first drawback. The second is interest and obligatory security. It’s too high of a risk my friends. I won’t even mention how difficult it is to get a loan being a start-up company. We have to have a reliable business plan and have the obligation to designate funds for a specific purpose in compliance with the Loan agreement, which doesn’t always work out.
Jan Fęcław (manager): I agree with Aldona, however, Jola also convinces me. A loan is needed for getting started, and all signs in heaven point to the fact that our “Waterfall Oil” has a large chance to succeed. In regards to my family, my grandmother, may she rest in peace, used to say “Do you want to have friends and be in good relations with your family? Don’t lend them nor don’t borrow from them any money”. This is true because later on there are problems at home caused by money. Imagine Christmas Eve. Everything is beautiful, carols, carp, borsch, and the time comes to make wishes to one another. Your rich uncle comes up, who you borrowed money from…and I wish that you will be able to pay off your loan. Not a nice experience, trust me.
Waldemar Kadek (supervisor): Yes, however, there won’t be any interest and you can pay off a specific amount at any designated time, without having to give security!
Natalia Rokefelerska : To be honest, I am not in favor of that idea regarding family. Janek is right, additional tension at home is not necessary. Perhaps a business partner, huh Lew?
Lew Nutiew (engineer chemist): I am sorry, I was thinking about something. Business partner…let me think. A business partner would certainly be a positive solution. Aside from the fact that it would give additional financial means, it would also give additional experience and knowledge – know how. The risk of failing will be spread out among a couple of people. The partner will give us the comfort of sharing responsibilities in accordance with his/her qualifications. We would decrease the level of risk by team work and making better thought out decisions. Nevertheless, there are situations when business partners are not loyal and want to “cheat us”. Sometimes, we can also have partners who tried to avoid all possible tasks and are always busy.
Waldemar Kadek: So a partner would bring along a lot of risk. However, looking at it objectively, every proposition is a bit risky. I’m sorry Aldona.
Aldona Wibowicz: I am ready to take the risk, don’t worry about me.
Waldemar Kadek: So in that case my dear friends, let’s choose two proposals. I am for the one involving family and a loan.
Jan Fęcław: I am for a loan and business partner.
Aldona Wibowicz: Loan and business partner.
Jolanta Lecka: Loan and business partner would be a good move.
Natalia Rokefelerska: All right, we have mutually came up with a decision. In order to start our undertaking we will need help from a business partner and to take out a loan.
helper do TM detail body (June 6th, 1st half)
Nice technique easy to adapt for various age groups. It enhances brainstorming, problem- solving, decision making in similar to real life business- like situations. Knowledge gained by this experience reflects well on young people's creativity and their enterprising skills.
Interesting , easy to adapt for any level. Nice way to make any lesson more atractive. Kids like role playing, theatre, drama techniques and they can come up with some creative ideas. And (what is more important) they have the power to make up the decision!
this is a brilliant method, innovative and easy to apply. I think my students will love it very much and we will achieve great results.
The method is interesting, easy to apply in any situation. Students develop their entrepreneurial skills and communication required in his professional career.
In our school we use roleplay, drama and theatre widely as a method, as the students have theatre classes in addition to entrepreneurship classes. We work interdisciplinary, and as a teacher I have experienced many interesting learning situations by using these methods. The studens develop entrepreneurial skills, as well as they can train "real life" sitations within safe frames. We often have very interesting discussions afterwards.
The use of Role Play in teaching and learning is an excellent method because students partecipating are given the opportunity to come up plainly with new entrepreneural ideas
I have never used the ROLE PLAY tool in this specific theatrical way.But I will. I find this "new" medium very interesting, as it is both developing on a "live" mode as well as on a recurring distanciation. Very convincing. Acting is so great to help students develop their personal and professional qualities, that I find Role Play a hundred per cent beneficial. First, the 'communication situations' enable the pupils –whatever their age- to fully commit themselves to the required task. It is lively, looks “real”, and therefore participates both in the quality of their linguistic performance and in their personal development: Everybody is involved in the team, and has to apply the right mindset to the task. It has then an implicit influence on the pupils’ personal development, as they have to overcome your lack of confidence. What I like most is when the gains and assets are double: we target at the same time professional skills improvement and individual fulfillment through the distanciated filter of self-assessment and of others’ assessment.