Students ‘act out’ their take on high school education

High school drama students from Halifax, Toronto and Vancouver had a chance earlier this month to “act out” the educational challenges faced by adolescents as part of Destination Arts, a unique arts program created by York’s faculties of Education and Fine Arts..

The act-out project, an initiative of the Canadian Education Association, brought together 27 grade 11 and 12 students from the three Canadian cities to produce a series of narratives highlighting educational issues from their perspective. Meant to give educators a better understanding of student experience, a collective creation of the event will be performed at the association’s symposium, Getting It Right For Adolescent Learners, on May 15 at Simon Fraser University.

“The authentic voices of students will begin the conversation about educational practices and inspire participants to imagine the kind of changes that are necessary in secondary schools across Canada,” said Kathleen Gould Lundy (right), coordinator of Destination Arts, a course director in York’s Education and Fine Arts faculties. 

Eight student actors and one teacher from each school board participated in the challenge and the entire process was documented on video by students from each city. The process began at York with a February meeting of the three teachers followed by a two-day workshop which took place last week at York. The workshop involved students and teachers, who met to brainstorm, set themes, explore material and find a collective voice. Each group then worked on themes at home.

“All of us are determined to make an important statement about where we come from and how we have been affected by our education,” said Julien Hyacinthe, a participating student.

Left: High school drama students act out a scene with students from York during the Destination Arts challenge

In May, the students will assemble for two more days to rehearse before presenting their production opening night of the symposium to education directors, superintendents, teachers and community members.

Destination Arts aims to enrich arts education across Canada by fostering partnerships among artists, arts organizations, students, educators and community members.