Puppets in Education’s approach to education is Unique, Artistic, Simple & Safe, Educational, Thought Provoking
Puppets in Education’s approach to education is unique. The “puppet kids” discuss the topics portrayed in a clear non-threatening manner. They also answer questions and dispel myths by presenting accurate information and pro-social skills and behavior that helps to build better relationships. In addition to puppet performances, presentations include workshops for upper elementary, middle and high school students. This format is designed to provide older, age-appropriate information and engage students in brainstorm, role-play and simulation/life-skill activities. Each school is provided with follow-up materials containing discussion questions, classroom activities, parent information handouts, bibliographies and related research articles.
What makes Puppets in Education so unique? There is a magic that occurs when puppets and children interact. Many will ask, “Why puppets?” Puppets can be mirrors, teaching us about ourselves – but they are much more than that. For 2,000 years people around the world have used puppets to educate and encourage positive change.
Puppets have long been versatile means of artistic expression, communication and instruction. Working the edge between entertainment and education, puppets can both teach and persuade. The entertainment comes first. It draws us in, and once we have lost ourselves in the world the puppets create, we accept the message without even realizing that we are learning. Lessons learned in this way are more likely to be remembered and to become part of our solid stock of knowledge.
Because they are characters, not people, puppets are the ideal medium for discussing sensitive issues. Puppets create a world in which we recognize ourselves and identify with the characters as the drama unfolds. At the same time, a puppet show seems to hold a piece of “safety glass” between the action and the audience. Although we are drawn into the drama, we are not threatened by it. It is an extraordinary phenomenon that an audience will accept from a puppet what would cause offence or embarrassment if it came from a live actor.
SIMPLE & SAFE
Puppets are simple and safe. Their simplicity allows an audience to hear difficult and sensitive messages. A puppet can be a child’s friend, without demanding anything in return. It can say what a child thinks, feel what the child feels, and share in a child’s challenges, loneliness, and sadness. Puppets can also show a child that knows abuse, exclusion and loss that there are adults who want to help them to be safe and that joy, love, caring and happiness exist.
Our primary focus is not entertainment. Children are more likely to come away from our presentations remembering the issues presented rather than the antics on stage. The puppets are effective in delivering their message because there is a magic in the medium. Around the office we call it “Powerful Puppetry.” The puppets are large, colorful and lively. They capture the attention of children, then offer information that relates to their lives. Watching a puppet show allows the audience to reflect on what they see and hear – it engages parts of the brain that process experience & reason and thinking things through. The scripts are open-ended so children are put to work solving problems in a safe and voluntary way. The puppets present social and behavioral concepts that audience members can practice right there on the spot… and then take away with them once we leave.
Through the puppets our goals of prevention and intervention work together: We seek to prevent problems before they happen, but also serve as a safety net, a way for those in trouble to ask for help. The questions that children ask our puppets at the end of each skit are amazing and often quite revealing:
- “How can I know when I should help someone with a disability?” to Mark who has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair.
- “What happens if you have a friend who yells and is in your face and you tell him to stop but he doesn’t?” to Eddy who is bullied.
- “When your parents get into a fight and it never stops-how can you help them?” to Brenda whose parents are divorced.
- “How do you know when something is beautiful?” to Renaldo who is blind.
- “What do I do if the person I tell says to be quiet and don’t mention it again?” to Joanne who was sexually abused by her mom’s boyfriend.
- “Do you ever feel if there is a big hole right here (child pointed to her heart)?” to Shaun who lives with depression.
- “If someone tells you they’re doing drugs, what should you do if they won’t listen? What if it’s someone you care about?” to Valerie who chooses not to drink or use drugs.
- “What do I do when I sleep at a friend’s house and her Dad climbs into bed and starts touching me and says, ‘Don’t tell anyone, I have a gun’?” to Joanne who was abused.