The imminent implementation of the new Free Quality Kindergarten Education Scheme in 2017/18 has driven substantial interest towards pre-school education enhancement, urging all relevant stakeholders to seek innovative, sustainable and impactful initiatives that would lay a solid foundation for children’s balanced development and life-long learning. Among all the available pedagogical approaches to promote young children’s learning, drama education has been well recognized as an effective approach to develop a child’s physical, social, emotional, and cognitive competencies. Drama education implementation has been rather challenging in local early childhood education and as local kindergarten teachers commonly have little expertise in the approach, many kindergarten principals concurred that this is a significant educational gap that should be filled in the long run.
Between 2012 and 2015, The Hong Kong Repertory Theatre (“HKREP”) launched the Funful Learning Project (the “Pilot”) to equip pre-primary teachers with the professional skills and knowledge to implement drama education in local kindergartens. Engaging The Hong Kong Education University (“EdUHK”) (formerly known as The Hong Kong Institute of Education) as the commissioned research party, the Pilot enabled over half of the local kindergartens and 856 teachers to receive high quality and practical drama education training through free-of-charge hands-on workshops. Feedback from participating kindergartens in the Pilot convinced both HKREP and EdUHK that more was needed to be done, especially in terms of offering on-site support and advanced training in drama education curriculum development and assessment.
Partnered with the Foundation, HKREP and EdUHK will work hand in hand again in the next three years for the “Playful Learning Program” (the “Program”), an advancement from the Pilot and a more comprehensive initiative to enable pre-primary teachers to design, conduct and assess drama education curriculum and pedagogy on their own in the future. Through 62 hours of school-based training, class preparation, demonstration and observation offered by the Program, 10 teachers from each participating kindergarten will be equipped with knowledge and skills in drama education, as well as empowered to diversify and foster local kindergarten curriculum through incorporating drama education approaches and practices. Commissioned by the Program, the Department of Early Childhood Education of EdUHK will conduct a Curriculum Innovation research project, with the aims to assure quality of drama education implementation at local kindergartens across the board and offer teachers inspirations and practical tips to integrate drama education in their teaching. To widen teachers’ perspective in drama education, overseas experts from Australia, Taiwan and the UK will also be invited to share their insights and experience in drama education.
On the 40th anniversary of HKREP, we are so grateful to have the great support from The D. H. Chen Foundation, which becomes our core partner to launch the Program. As the Chinese proverb says, ‘someone is keeping cool in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.’ Through the Program, we hope to promote drama education so the seeds of arts are not only sowed in theatre but also in preschool curriculum and schools. Besides enjoying the breeze under the tree in the future, what is more important to the pillars of Hong Kong is to bear fruit of truth, kindness and beauty in their hearts.
Mr. Kin Bun Chan, MH
Executive Director, HKREP
The innovative use of drama through play and creative drama pedagogies are becoming widespread in promoting children’s wellbeing and whole-person development in Hong Kong classrooms. The Department of Early Childhood Education, EdUHK is very grateful for the generous support of The D. H. Chen Foundation towards the research project which examines exemplary drama education applications by preschool teachers. It is also a valuable opportunity to collaborate with HKREP. This triple partnership between philanthropists, researchers and professional drama artists could promote the sustainable development of drama education in Hong Kong preschools further.
Prof. Kevin Chung Kien Hoa
Head of the Department of Early Childhood Education, EdUHK
As the social landscape and demands of the world are constantly shifting, the Foundation believes that the role of a teacher is no longer merely a knowledge transfer agent but a facilitator to guide and stimulate students through their learning journey. We envision that the Program, through professional drama education training, will enable early childhood educators to become active change agents per se, molding knowledge, feelings, thoughts, sensations and experience into an activating process for young children. We look forward to collaborating with more passionate and forward-looking educators to advance early childhood education and more info of the Program is available at http://www.playfullearning.org.hk/.