Curtain Up!

The theatre was filled. Over 1,000 seats contained 4th and 5th graders from surrounding schools. An excited buzz could be felt as I walked around the auditorium making sure everyone had a seat. Then the lights went down, the students leaned forward, and the history lesson began. You wouldn’t normally find this kind of excitement in a classroom - especially when you’re talking about lesser known figures from history.

But theatre changes things.

During my 5 years working at the historic Marion Palace Theatre, I observed this phenomenon repeatedly through their popular School Matinee Series. Performers from across the country would come to the stage and teach students on a variety of topics (even matching up with academic standards) using the power of live theatre. I want to bring a piece of that to financial education.

Incorporating elements of theatre and the performing arts into education isn’t necessarily a new concept, but it’s certainly gaining traction across the country. Educators at all levels are finding ways to integrate drama and comedy in topics including science, history,

math, social issues, and more. There’s even a college professor who incorporated comedy into a course on biostatistics. (Did you hear the one about gene expression levels?)

Since this competition began, I’ve been researching, building a foundation, and focusing the scope of my project.

Plenty of financial education resources exist for middle school and high school ages, so I’m building a curriculum targeted to 4th and 5th graders. In my time observing, student teaching, and presenting to a variety of age groups over the last 9 years, this one is just right for this project. They have a solid grasp of basic money concepts and are still willing to get up and participate (This part tends to get more difficult once you reach middle school and high school students.)

The next steps for my project include contacting area teachers for these grade levels to get their input and feedback on topics that match up well with standards they’re required to teach. Once this is complete, I’ll In addition, I’m working with the local Boys and Girls Club to run a pilot of the curriculum with a group of 4th and 5th graders. This will be documented and shared in a future post.

Ultimately, I want this program to leave the students with a greater understanding of how money works in their lives and how they can take control of their own financial situation (before it takes control of them). If we can laugh, smile, and have a great time along the way, all the better.

Daniel Bradshaw