Like the ELAR TEKS, the Theatre TEKS build on one another from K-12. The skills and processes become increasingly more complex as students move from grade to grade. When a student graduates from high school having spent several years in a Theatre Arts classroom, they should have conceptualized much of the knowledge and skills into processes and finally, “essential understandings”.  These are the concepts supported by the skills and processes we teach and learn in theatre. Hopefully, we are teaching skills and knowledge to move students toward independent performance, evaluation, and creation in theatre.


Esteemed curriculum experts have provided definitions for some of these terms:


Skills: The specific competencies required for complex process performance. Skills need to be taught directly and practiced in context.


Processes: Complex performances drawing on a variety of skills. Process abilities develop within the individual and grow in sophistication over time.


(Erikson, H. Lynn. Concept-Based Curriculum and Instruction: Teaching Beyond the Facts. Corwin Press, Inc. Thousand Oaks, California. 2002)


Essential Understandings: “… conceptually based statements that teachers invent or borrow and use as a guiding light to design curriculum and instruction that derive from standards. As Wiggins and McTighe (1998) state, ‘Enduring refers to the big ideas, the important understandings, that we want students to ‘get inside of’ and retain after they’ve forgotten many of the details. . . . Enduring understandings go beyond discrete facts or skills to focus on larger concepts, principles, or processes’ (p. 10).”


(Definition is a merger of definitions from several curriculum experts including H.Lynn Erikson [see above] as well as Wiggins and McTighe’s (1998) prominent work Understanding by Design)


As theatre artists and educators, it is imperative that we teach theatre with the “essential understanding” as our goal no matter what level or course we are teaching.  As an artist, what are your essential understandings of theatre?