In 2014, the MakeBelieve Arts team ran a touring show of Journey to the Centre of the Brain, our theatrical exploration of the human mind, how it works and why it makes us feel the way we do. This year, we’ve run another two tours, visiting schools all around the country from children in Year 2 all the way up to Year 7. Supported by the Wellcome Trust, we wanted the show to give young children an understanding of how their brains function in a thought-provoking and engaging way, making the science behind emotions and cognitive processes accessible to everyone; even the teachers found that they learned a lot from the performance!
Having moved our main hub to Corsham in Wiltshire we were keen to lay down local roots and to tour rural areas. This we managed to do, visiting schools who have not had quality educational theatre before. The tour took us to Wiltshire, Somerset, North Devon, Dorset and thanks to the films being seen on the website, the island of Guernsey.
Journey to the Centre of the Brain features nine-year old Zac, on the night before a big test. Having not prepared himself with revision, he gets anxious, wishing that he could fly away and not have to worry. During the night, he finds himself transported into his own brain, where he meets with the various sections: Neo Cortex, Hippocampus and Cerebellum, who teach him about how they work and communicate to process ideas and feelings.
Responses from pupils have been wonderful, and the show has clearly helped them to learn in an exciting way, which inspires them to share this knowledge with others. One Year 5 pupil was proud to report that they had taught their mum something about the brain: “she didn’t know about the Neo Cortex”. It’s here that the show is most effective: teaching young pupils about rather complex scientific ideas in a way that they can understand, as well as how it affects them.
“They realise the strength their brain holds… [the show explains] how this relates to their learning”, said teachers watching the show earlier this year. They also saw the value in the show for themselves, finding an understanding of how different teaching techniques are important in reaching all learners.
Alongside the show, we released a number of accompanying films that discuss various parts of the brain in detail, using catchy songs, humour, acting and animation to engage young viewers with the content. Pupils found that the short films inspired a number of imaginative discussions, such as: “what’s the most important part of the brain?”; “what would happen if you didn’t have a memory?”; and “if you had little people inside your brain, what would be inside their heads?”.
Day Out in a Balloon was the most popular video, as after seeing all the films explaining how the various parts of the brain work, this final episode shows exactly how the
Amygdala, Temporal Lobe, Neo Cortex and Hippocampus work together to handle situations. By examining events and concerns that affect young people, the films help to relate emotions and ideas to real-life issues they may have dealt with before, helping to explain exactly why they feel the way they do.
We’ve been thrilled with the response to the show and we hope that everyone has learned something about themselves and others through it!
Please see the evaluation and films at www.worldinsideme.co.uk
This week we focused on the importance of saying ‘yes’. Without saying ‘yes’ to each other, we would not have been able to successfully break free from the corner of the room to the door without stepping on the floor. Just look at that teamwork!
We also learned that a story about finding a fiver in your car could lead to a robot revolution.
And we decided that sometimes saying ‘yes, but’ can be just as useful as saying ‘yes, and’, because it helps ideas to build and become as powerful as they can be. But if you were only ever to say ‘no’, you wouldn’t ever get anywhere. And considering that our pupils wanted to go live in the worlds of Futurama, Harry Potter, Gotham City, and the world of the spirits, it’s a good thing they learned when to say ‘no’ and when to say ‘yes’.
Our brilliant year sevens turned their thoughts to everyday conflicts this week. The group demonstrated their impressive use of the cockney accent as we growled ‘oi’, ‘get out of my pub’ and ‘leave it’ in a hilarious game of Eastenders before we turned our attention to resolving conflict in a more reflective way. We improvised a range of school based conflicts, including friends arguing about not keeping each other’s secrets and picking on the ‘new kid’.
Then, as a group we discussed what each person needed and worked together to find a peaceful resolution to the problem that saw both parties getting what they wanted.
It was a real pleasure to see the group really thinking about what somebody else might need, and how this might be interpreted incorrectly in the heat of the moment! It would, perhaps, lead to a less exciting episode of Eastenders though…
Our brave Yr 7s from John Roan demonstrated their excellent listening and supportive skills when we discussed what we need from each other in order for us to be able to work at our best.
There were some very articulate and clear reasons given for why we need the things we need. And between them, the pupils agreed that respecting someone means treating them the way you would like to be treated yourself; that it is perfectly possible to respect someone you don’t like; that you need honesty in order to be able to build trust; and that you can’t really achieve what you want to achieve unless you are helping everyone else in the group to work at their best, which is why you need kindness, friendship, affirmation, positivity and co-operation, at the very least.
(above picture: the washing line of needs)
The answers came thick and fast from the Yr 7 pupils we’ve been working with at John Roan on Friday morning:
“I’m really proud of working together with people I don’t know very well yet”
“I made friends with people I had never met before today”
“I won the game!”
“We worked together to make statues of a rollercoaster and a cable car”
“I had lots of fun”
(above picture: a cable car as imagined by the students)
Apart from working together to make rollercoasters, cable cars, statues of Egyptians and Rocky Balboa, the pupils also decided that the Olympics would have been even better if their suggestions for Olympic sports had been taken up. Among the sports the pupils would like to win gold medals in are: sleeping the longest, staying awake the longest and eating the most chocolate. We can only hope the International Olympic Committee is paying attention.
A transition triumph took place at The John Roan Secondary School this Tuesday.
Over 60 Year 6 pupils from 8 primary schools based in the Olympic Borough of Greenwich came together to meeting and greeting the people that will be moving into, and through, secondary school with.
Working with a drama practitioner, film maker, poet and flashmob director, the pupils produced their ideas and inspirations in answer to this question:
IF THE OLYMPICS ARE COMING AND THE EYES OF THE WORLD ARE ON LONDON THEN WHAT DO WE WANT TO SAY?
We created our messages to the world. First up, lines of lyrical loveliness from Paul Lyalls and his poetic companions:
The Real Monopoly
Walking through Monopoly Town
A parade of umbrellas going round
The smell of fuel engulfs us
Shops full of fashion making people feel dizzy
Weather changing all the time
It’s so, so busy.
Cars buses and trains rushing
White vans on a mission
Faster trains on the underground, people pushing
London Bridge is falling Down
Huge landmarks scatter
Time always matters.
Immense skyscrapers tall as they can be
Dancers with ebony eyes
Sometimes the bright golden sun comes to visit
The smell of vinegar on chips
Buses full of perfume
Hello on everyone lips.
Ice cream vans roaming down the street
Alarms running through ears
The night filled with yellow light
Red signs catch your eye
Advertisements go by.
Neon colours everywhere
Big red balloons in the air
Slowly spinning Big Ben
The time is near
The time is clear
As we count down to our Olympic year
People walking talking about it all the time
This is our chance to shine.
Azariel, Armand, Gracie, Lulu, Leila, Ashley, Libby,
Tiegan, Jack, Harry, Nicholas, Lucas, Irida, Hannah,
Jump Ahead July 2012