An imaginary trip to Athens, during the plague and the Peloponnesian War, was made by the elementary school students in Chengdu of Southwest China, through the animation starring the young Athenian Myrtis and thanks to their visionary Chinese teacher.
Knowing the historical context and having the appropriate attire, Miao Bin used methods of theatre education, asking students to play the Athenians of the time, who survived between two asymmetric threats: the enemy at the gates and the plague inside.
"After her body was buried under ground for so many years, how could they find her?" "What can a virtual person think?" These were some of the students' questions about the first and the "second" life of their peer, when Myrtis was introduced to them in the first lesson. Hearing about the food and medicine shortages of that time, the students - even those who do not live in affluent families - decided to eliminate these timeless problems.
Miao Bin brought the students ancient Greek costumes and asked them to sew a chiton on their own, following relevant instructions from a video made by the teacher. This is a "feat" to which they responded perfectly.
Knowing the historical context and having the appropriate attire, Miao Bin used theatrical methods, such as role playing and improvisation, asking students to play the Athenians of the time, who survived between two asymmetric threats, the enemy at the gates and the plague inside. “The children realized that the victims of wars and epidemics are people next door, such as Myrtis, while many of them connected it with today’s world and felt lucky that in our time there are rarely wars and medical science have evolved rapidly”.
These eleven-year-old Chinese students attended the drama classes for only two months this year, as their city had been in quarantine for a long time. According to the urban legend, Chengdu, home to 16 million people, has always been a paradise in China, "a city you will never leave." However, everyday life even after the quarantine was difficult: students and teachers needed to be tested for body temperatures every morning, had lunch separately at noon, and on each floor, there was only one class.
This model of experiential learning excited the children and the parents in Chengdu, as it broadened children's cognitive horizons and cultivated their empathy. The innovative teaching of the new subject was presented to the local media. Therefore, Miao Bin is preparing to continue teaching the Myrtis drama class in the next school year. "I am preparing to teach 11 classes, that is, 500 to 600 children," he says happily. While he has contributed to twinning Chengdu with Athens and Patras to be sister cities, he told that we will see more interesting Greek-Chinese collaborations in the coming years.
by Ιωάννα Φωτιάδη