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Education on Stage

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Scott_at_rehearsalWe hear a lot about training students for STEM jobs, but not the ‘arts & letters’ industries where many of us actually work. So today, we continue our examination into how we incorporate that experience in teaching.

How do we take the humanities from just helping students become well-rounded to becoming artists, poets, and musicians, particularly in an age where movie and television personalities have tremendous influence? CETL asked Scott Cooper, (Theater, Clearwater) to share his insight:

Briefly describe your outside work and its status to date?

I am currently designing 2 shows for American Stage—THE WIZ (in the park) and GOD OF CARNAGE (this summer). I am also scheduled do design a production of A SIMPLE THEATER in July.

Where or how does your outside work overlap your classroom and how do you incorporate one into the other?

I talk about my experiences in the field with my students as things happen. There are also times when I will use a student as an assistant and have them go through the process with me on a production. I have also had students come to theater to help paint scenery if they are interested in doing that.

American Stage in the Park Where are you careful to draw a line between the two and keep the classroom separate from your other job?

I don’t usually want to overwhelm theaters with a lot of students (or try to get many comp tickets for productions). I also keep any kind of negative energy/ talk away from the students. I want them to like theater—not see too much of the bad stuff right away.

Looking at the industry implications for your subject, where would you change the classroom experience if you could change anything? Unlimited budget, time, etc.?

I would have a lot more field trip experiences. Take them to the theater, talk with actors/ stage managers/ etc. I bring in professional (Broadway) people to speak to the students–usually actor friends of mine–and that seems to really get them excited about things.

What are your future plans for your outside work?

I plan on continuing to design one or two shows a year in the professional world.

What advice do you have for students or other faculty pursuing an outside passion?

GOD OF CARNAGEIt keeps me sane and grounded in my field. I still learn things on every show that I do–I don’t seek it out, it just shows up and I learn something new. Keep yourself open to new ideas

Thank you, Mr. Cooper, for sharing how your passion for art influences your work in the classroom!

Considering our students were raised with television, theater has some interesting implications for education. Read on for more insights from noted education journals:

We’d love to hear more from the other SPC artists, musicians, poets, and painters at CETL! How does your work outside of the classroom influences how you teach? Comments and posts are welcomed! Just contact bryson.kathy@spcollege.edu

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