Teaching about homelessness: Learning compassion through dramatic arts

Rewind six months to a scene in my senior drama class at Bur Oak Secondary School in Markham. It’s a Friday morning, second period, almost the end of the week. As the students prepare to leave the room, they find the following prompt on the board: “Write a journal entry describing everything you know about homelessness. Due Monday.” The students quickly scribble down the topic, stuff the assignment in their backpacks and make their way out of the classroom.

What did I hope to uncover in my students with this assignment? A starting point for what would become a candid, six-week journey in transformative learning and social justice? Whatever my hopes, on the following Monday, the students would begin to create a piece of theatre that would explore a topic rarely discussed in the classroom and largely ignored by society as a whole.

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Watch the Street Stories performance here.
The full dramatic arts unit can be found here.
“Change Your Mind”, an original song created to accompany the play, can be found here.
A Toronto Star article on the project can be found here.

Publication Date: 
Markham, Ontario, Canada