Last week, nearly 250 sixth graders of Nguyen Du Junior High School (sited in District 1 of HCMC) attended a touching literature lesson where their classmates played the roles of characters in many Vietnamese fables and legends such as ‘Thay boi xem voi’ (aka ‘Blind fortune-tellers observe an elephant’), ‘Coc kien troi’ (aka ‘Journey of a toad suing the sky’s god’), and ‘Thanh Giong’ (aka ‘The legend of Giong’).
Ms. Vu Thi Hai Yen, literature teacher in charge of the lesson, reported that her students had 4 weeks to write scripts, design proper costumes, and practice acting out their plays. Her role is merely to offer guidance and support them to form a complete play. The students were free to express their own opinions and experiment innovative ideas. This obviously helped them build essential soft skills like team work and presentation skill.
Similarly, Tay Thanh High School in Tan Phu District launched the project ‘Vietnamese literature in revolutionary time – Historic journey’ for the twelfth graders.
Ms. Nguyen Thi Phuc, Head of the Literature Department of the school, shared that theoretical teaching of the subject is not at all effective as students cannot truly understand the context of the literature works. However, thanks to playing roles of characters in those stories, learners have a chance to not only review their own knowledge systematically but also thoroughly comprehend the background, the personalities of characters. That has positively boost their patriotism and form their philosophy in life.
Another successful example of learning through acting out is the project ‘Gaining inspiration through historical figures’ of Le Quy Don High School (sited in District 3) for both tenth and eleventh graders. Under the supervisor of history teachers, students of the school bring back to life such figures as Queen Cleopatra, Egyptian Pharaohs, Queen Elizabeth, Diaochan and Wang Zhaojun (two of the Four Beauties of ancient China), Empress Wu Zetian, Empress Cixi, the Trung Sisters, Trieu Thi Trinh, Tran Quoc Toan, Express Duong Van Nga.
Tenth grader Nguyen Huu Ngoc Thao, who played the role of Tran Quoc Toan, shared that to be successful, he had to observe the acting of famous actor Thanh Loc several times, adjusted the original script, and then rehearsed that to show off exactly the feelings and sayings of the figure.
Nguyen Viet Dang Du, Head of the History Department in this school, revealed the statistics that two-thirds of the registered plays are about historical figures from other countries even though Vietnamese ones are also quite interesting. He explained that since the film and document resources about Vietnamese famous people are rather limited, students often find it hard to do their research, and thus opting for international figures.
However, he did hope that thanks to the new learning method of history via plays, which is much more intriguing, this subject will be able to escape its bias of being the most boring. Also, he predicted that learning via experimentation can inspire learners to build their autonomy in obtaining new knowledge.