For the last quite a number of years, maybe twelve or thirteen, I’ve run a speech arts club or camp for our local homeschooled kids. It changes in nature each year, depending on my own needs and the needs of my family and community.
This year, I’ve been hosting a writing/literature study/speech arts co-op for about thirteen or fourteen kids ages eleven to seventeen. As a few weeks went by, early in the school year, I realized I wasn’t getting to the speech arts component nearly as much as I would like. So I proposed the idea of doing a speech arts “camp;” the kids would come and spend three or four days with me and we would focus primarily on speech arts.
We held this last week, and I am, as always, completely blown away by what kids are capable of. I thought perhaps I’d include the scope and sequence or what we did over the course of four days, in the event that
a) you were interested OR
b) you were looking for ideas to run your own speech arts camp
Caveat: I am not an expert in speech arts by any stretch. I am just a mom who likes to get kids up public speaking and reciting poetry.
So, here goes. I’ll make the next few posts a blow-by-blow account of what we accomplished. Technically, it was a speech arts camp and a book study. We read and discussed “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens over the camp as well.
My fundamental goal for the next few days, and in fact, all the writing and speech arts and literature study I’m doing with the kids is this: that they have an opportunity, with peers, to experience the nature and purpose of communicating through language. Whether through written or spoken language:
We must communicate with others truthfully and charitably through beauty.
We must understand that what God has given us to know and grasp in our brains is useless unless we can use it for His greater purpose: to share the gospel.
Language is a gift and being effective communicators is the is the primary way we have to share our lives with others.
I posed the question: What is speech arts?
The things that could fall under the speech arts heading are: public speaking (giving a speech or presentation) debate, introductions, toasts, story telling, recitation of prose or poetry, reading aloud, monologue or duologue and all aspects of theatre.
We discussed the nature of speech arts, what does it mean, what does it encompass. I’ve chosen two aspects of speech arts to focus on this week, poetry recitation and introductions.
Poetry recitation, in my mind, is important because it requires the fundamental skills in other forms of speech arts at both ends of the spectrum. In theatre, one of the fundamental skills is sharing emotion and touching the audience, through your character and their interaction with others, telling a story. It is not usually directly connecting in the same way that you would by giving a speech. Giving a speech requires directly speaking to your audience, giving information, but also touching them in such a way as to interest them in your topic, or convince them of an idea.
Poetry recitation allows us the opportunity to explore ideas and connect with an audience, but removes the “personal” aspect from the interaction, which can be so difficult…we are using our interpretation of someone else’s words and ideas. We can practice working on connecting without our own ideas being at the centre of what we are sharing.
Introductions are a great way to feel comfortable in a position of authority or expertise, teaching and attending to an audience. When we introduce ourselves of someone we know well, we are “comfortable with the topic,” we usually start with ourselves, because we don’t require any “correct information” – we know ourselves better than any other topic. Introductions are the foundation of giving a prepared talk or speech.
I also think working on introductions gives us an opportunity to discuss social graces in a variety of situations…introduce yourself to someone in authority, to a stranger, mix in a group of people with whom you aren’t familiar. Meet someone’s parents or a future boss.
We read and discussed A Christmas Carol, first stave.
In our poetry, we primarily are working on careful enunciation, understanding the words and poetic devices, and working with the cadence to project ideas effectively.
We did a skit as well, and the goal of the skit is to also work on these skills, all silliness intact. The kids were given parameters that they had to use to establish a plot, dialogue, character, conflict and resolution.
We read the beginning of The Poet’s Eye, the reasons why we would want to read and understand poetry.
The kids performed their skits and then we played a couple of rounds of Catch Phrase.
Day two, up tomorrow.