Originally published in the Abington Journal By Kelly McDonough
SCRANTON — According to Northeast Education Intermediate Unit’s Dr. Catherine Cullen, the arts are an integral part of the development of creativity and critical thinking in children and adolescents.
An ACT48 program of Broadway Theatre of Northeastern Pennsylvania and the NEIU offer a professional development series for educators to enhance their abilities to facilitate creativity in their students.
“If I’m an eighth-grade science teacher, I can go to this program teaching creative and critical thinking. I will teach aspects of neuroscience as it applies to teaching and learning. I will be giving lectures on how the brain responds creatively to learning in and through the arts,” said Cullen. “The arts can be integrated into any academic subject, and the purpose is to enhance creative and critical thinking.”
Cullen also mentioned how teachers can pass on new ideas and utilize new techniques in their classroom, have a more engaging classroom environment and instructional strategy.
Each session will include an informational lecture on research-based strategies in teaching creative and critical thinking, participation with professional artists, attendance of a Broadway Theatre production and a talk-back session with professional actors who performed in the show.
Executive Director of Broadway Theatre League Frank T. Blasi explained that group’s involvement with the program.
“We administer the program, take the reservations and publicize the program for the Broadway Theatre League offices. We’ve also worked with Dr. Cullen to set up the programming for each session,” he said.
Blasi went on to talk about how the program ran several years ago with Broadway Theatre League and this is the first year in about seven years they are running the program. “It is important in the community because it exposes our educators to the theater world, and the benefits live theater has to the community.”
Blasi also hopes to pass the word on to the younger generation as to the benefit of live theater for a complete and rounded life.
“The universal draw of theater that existed since the ancient societies of the world is an important aspect of life. What is a better conduit to the younger generations than their teachers?” Blasi said.
The benefits to teachers is they receive ACT48 credits necessary to maintain their teaching certificates. Another benefit is they are exposed to current culture as presented by musical theater which will help them relate to their students. And it provides them with education on current themes important in the school system.
Blasi also believes teachers should come for a fun experience that will serve the dual purpose of relaxation and education.
“They will be able to obtain their required credits for their teaching certificate in an interesting way,” said Blasi. “The also could bring family or friends to the shows at a special promotional price given to those who participate in the program.”
ACT48 Hours are six hours per session and 30 per season. The session on creative and critical thinking through the arts learning will be held at POSH@TheScrantonClub from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. Broadway performance will take place from 2 to 4:30 p.m. at the Scranton Cultural Center. This will be followed up by a talk-back session. The $67 per session cost reflects education ticket discount and includes lunch, a theater ticket and free parking. The full season (five sessions) is $300. Companion tickets may be purchased for a special fee of $50 per show.
The 2019/2020 season includes “A Bronx Tale,” “The Play That Goes Wrong,” “Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story,” “Fiddler On The Roof” and “An American In Paris.” Educators may RSVP by calling Broadway Theatre League office at 570-342-7784.