Ya Gotta Move to Learn, and a Sister’s Legacy

I am on a flight, heading to Miami Country Dayto teach a full day of Using Improvisation in the Classroom for Teaching and Learning.  Any opportunity that I have to share this work, I’m grateful.  The value of improvisation for teaching and learning is tremendous.  Improvisation unleashes creativity, problem solving, develops literacy skills and content knowledge, all through a highly kinesthetic experience.

Although we know the increasing importance of movement in learning, I still witness many classrooms where students sit and listen to the teacher direct the entire class.  We just don’t learn well through when teaching is largely delivered through teacher directed auditory instruction.  It just doesn’t work well. 

About eight years ago, my late sister, Mary Siewert Scruggs, and I knew that we were “on to something”.  (Mary was the Head of Educational Programs and the Writing Program at Second City in Chicago).  Mary and had many discussions about the potential impact of improvisation in the classroom.  We ventured out, with the support of the Second City Training Center, and worked in classrooms in Chicago.  Our professional expertise was the perfect intersection: improvisation and literacy.  It turned out our hunch was right on target.  Our research (with our tremendous collaborator, Katy Smith, Ph.D) was published in The International Journal of Arts in Education and you can download the article here: http://www.ijea.org/v10n12/)

Mary and I also co-authored The Second City Guide to Improv in the Classroom, a resource that explains the connections between improvisation and learning.  There are also lesson plans that incorporate featured improvisation games and exercises.

I am always tremendously grateful when I am able to spread my sister’s legacy.  Mary is well known in the Chicago theater community but she also made an impact on children in schools.  Here’s to “Yes….and” Mary.