But Thinking Makes It So: A Curriculum to Build an Optimistic Explanatory Style Leveraging High School Dramatic Arts
creative youth development
Curriculum and Instruction
An association exists between optimism and emotional, physical and performance benefits that can help protect high school students against depression and strengthen resilience. Learning to change one’s explanatory style is a way to promote optimism. High school drama programs present an opportunity to teach positive psychology skills, such as optimism, to increase the well-being of students. At the same time, these skills offer an opportunity for actors to gain mastery in their craft. This paper proposes a four-class high school drama curriculum that attempts to do both. Curriculums to change explanatory style have already been designed with successful results. The curriculum proposed here adapts these skills to make them useful for actors when analyzing scenes and developing characters. If, “all the world is a stage, and all men and women nearly players”(Shakespeare, 1623, 2.7.142-143), then actors who find the skills useful in their theatrical practice, should experience higher engagement, adoption, and mastery of the explanatory style skills and thus, experience higher well-being.