Recreating Revolutionary Roles: How Preadolescent Students Explore the Boston Tea Party through Theater
thesisposted on 08.02.2016, 16:50 by Laurel Louise Brierly
This thesis aims to answer three questions that explore the ways in which preadolescent students participate in a reenactment exercise that is used as an educational technique at the Old South Meeting House, a historic site from the American Revolutionary War in Boston, Massachusetts: How do the students experience the performance-based approach to education?; Do the students enjoy their reenactment experiences?; and How do students navigate between the body of mythologized material surrounding the American Revolutionary War and the educational material with which they are presented during the reenactment exercise and during other formal (classroom) education? Written, drawn, and verbal responses from 76 participating 9- and 10-year-olds (American fourth and fifth graders) concerning their experiences with the reenactment program were gathered. Drawing from theoretical foundations in Museum Education, Museum Theater, Theater Education, and the mythologizing of American history, this project explores a convergence of these disciplines. The data generation and analysis of the responses that the students provided were based in Grounded Theory, and analysis was conducted through the use of phenomenographic transcription and categorization, including techniques for analysing drawn data based on models developed for use in studies in Environmental Education. The findings illuminate the dual understandings that students develop to navigate between exciting, mythologized histories of the American Revolution and more historically provable versions that, while providing accurate facts for education, might not possess the same dramatic appeal as exaggerated and romanticized versions. The data also points to the importance of the social aspect of reenactment to the participants. The primary contributions to the fields of Museum Education and Museum Theater Education herein lie mainly in this thesis’s additions to discussions on the use of reenactment as an interpretive tool, particularly in terms of exploring the reenactment exercise’s influences on the students by whom it was performed.