Last year, our son was on the Improv Team at school. You could tell it was Tuesday because he was so hyped to go to school and attend improv practice. I remember little from high school but it was things like the school play, a sports team or some neat project that sticks in my mind 30 years later; not the curriculum of 3 R’s.
It seems that what is learned in the “non-core” subjects really is the most important in long run. Art, physical education, theatre, newspaper club, the yearbook, all provide richer learning experiences than sitting in a class (thou shalt not leave your seat) preparing for some important, graded test. Would our education system be better if it only consisted of electives and non-core activities? Could it be worse?
At our son’s high school, the Improv Team is competitive, and many students who want to do it don’t make the cut. I’ve read a couple of articles that show that improvisational skills may be much more useful than algebra or calculus will be for the majority of graduates. Perhaps improv should be compulsory, instead of math. Michael Kindred-Pratt writes about improv skills in the workplace;
The main benefit of improv comedy is that it teaches students how to deal with uncertainty. People must make incredibly difficult decisions on the spot, which forces them to think quickly. There are no scripts or plots in improv, and no matter how hard we try, there are no exact scripts or plots in the business world either.
John Moore says that a major benefit of improv skills is that failure is an option. He writes that from improv, one can also learn how to:
- be a passionate follower;
- be a better listener and reactor;
- make instinctive decisions and deal with the consequences;
- trust others; and
- make others look good
Not bad for a non-core educational activity that doesn’t even get class time.