FEEL GOOD | How this local teacher uses drama therapy to help children learn

Zanoxolo James
Zanoxolo James

Zanoxolo James, a local young teacher at PJB Cona Primary School in Worcester, uses drama therapy to keep his students happy and motivated to learn.

Like most kids from townships, Zanoxolo's pupils come from poor backgrounds, and I know from experience that when there is nothing to look forward to at home, school becomes a welcome escape. 

Therefore, I believe, educators who teach in these urban areas have a greater responsibility of fulfilling many roles, becoming councilors, friends, and even parents to each child.

By using drama therapy, Zanoxolo helps his pupils to forget about the troubles awaiting them at home for a while. 

What is drama therapy? 

"My teaching strategy is a combination of drama therapy, exercise warm ups and dance. I once was involved with the arts society at CPUT and learned many things there that can heal a soul," he told Parent24

Drama therapy involves the use of theatre techniques to facilitate personal growth and promote mental health, and can be used in hospitals, schools and prisons.

It incorporates dancing, singing and anything creative. 

Follow this link to see Zanoxolo's technique in action

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Zanoxolo's story 

Teaching was not always Zanoxolo's career choice.

After he matriculated in 2010, he was not sure what to do next and so he decided to take a gap year and found employment at the local Pick n Pay as a shelf packer.

But the gap year eventually stretched over a period of years, and he ended up working from 2011 until 2013 when his former teacher Mrs Fonk approached him and asked if he would like to assist her in tutoring her pupils in IsiXhosa. 

That is where he developed his passion for teaching.

In 2014 he enrolled at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology for a teaching degree majoring in IsiXhosa and Life Sciences, and is now a qualified FET teacher.

Follow this link to watch him teach poetry

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Also read: How to help your kids with homework (without doing it for them)

Social media influence 

After a while, this young teacher started sharing videos of his classes on Facebook, with the goal of inspiring other young teachers and to shed some love and light after the recent teacher/learner violence in schools. 

We've been seeing many negative things about children in schools these days but, according to Zanoxolo, there's nothing a sprinkle of positive can't fix. 

One of the videos he shared showed the pupils singing beautifully, but their obvious need for proper uniforms and school shoes could not be missed. Many who watched the videos were inspired to donate these much-needed items to the pupils. 

See the post below or on Facebook

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From his videos, it's easy to see just how much Zanoxolo's pupils enjoy being in class, and the teacher says it's all down to "passion and dedication."

His goal is to let children be who they want to be, regardless of where they come from, and learn while doing it. 

"We're teaching different learners with personal issues, my work is to teach with passion and dedication, adding creativity and fun. Children need to play, especially in primary, they are young and energetic and teachers should allow them to play," he says. 

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Read more:

Personalisation in education: myth or reality?

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South Africa must up its game and produce more teachers

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