Improv for Special People
Improv is increasingly becoming recognized as a learning tool. It is ideal as a differentiated learning technique. There are several reasons for this.
Improv encourages the use of imagination. In improv, all the props you will ever need are carried inside your head. There are no requirements for lighting, scenery or costumes. If you can imagine it, you can create it. At the same time, improv requires you to be very specific in your creation because it is shared with a group, or even an audience. Specificity allows the other players and the audience to “see” what has been created.
Improv promotes group cooperative behavior. Improv encourages cooperation in groups because whatever is built during group activities must be accepted by the group as a whole. Risk taking is valuable, and creativity is encouraged because ideas are not denigrated. Instead, each and every member of the group must accept and add to ideas when they are presented. Simply put, if I state “I am a tree”, then the response is something along the lines of “yes, and you have lovely leaves”, not “no you’re not you’re just a stick”. Learning group cooperative behavior also encourages respect for each other as individuals as well as each other’s ideas. There are no wrong answers in improv.
Improv provides opportunities for collaboration. Because improv is interactive, learning becomes an active partnership between the members of the group. The role of the instructor is more one of guidance rather than pushing a specific direction or agenda. Members of the group are free to explore their emotions, or try on different characters or roles. Role playing is a strong tool for making sense of a situation. It also offers the opportunity to work through real emotions and situations in a safe and non-judgmental environment. Improv can be cathartic and can lead to permanent improvements in perceptions and the ability to process emotions and understand relationships. Or, as we like to say - improv is cheaper than therapy!
Improv stimulates intellectual and emotional growth. Improv games can be both competitive and cooperative. Group members are encouraged to analyze situations and “think on their feet”. Improv increases self-awareness in members as they learn new ways to express ideas, opinions and feelings. By learning to creatively problem solve through improv activities, members increase their ability to develop critical thinking skills, and increase their self-confidence and competence.