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Either you can or cant?

Discussion in 'Drama and performing arts' started by oskarcat, Jan 20, 2011.

  1. I've been teaching drama for a few years now, working with children of all ages, in various places, from schools to clubs.
    I am a trained teacher in Secondary and have enjoyed working with many different year groups.
    My only personal downfall is my lack of academia. I didnt study drama at school and I got my degree through practical and performance work as opposed to the theory behind it all. I have never had to perform or study a Shakespeare and I've never written an essay about Arthur Miller.
    When much of the drama coursework in the upper stages rely so much on the written work, I stumble and feel quite ashamed that I seem to know so little despite my wealth of experience and other knowledge. I have had 16 year olds tell me the themes behind a play, where I have been completely unaware. [​IMG]
    Colleagues believe I can 'learn' how to do this, but can I??? Can I really just pick up 'The Crucible' for example and learn what its saying? or can I just regurgitate some stuff from the web with no real understanding? I dont think I can do that.
    How can I possibly expect a pupil to write an essay on a subject I have little understanding of, let alone have no experience of writing myself??
    So, Can I learn? or is it now too late? Either you've got it or you aint....... is this how it is?
    this has been niggling me for some time so your opinions are appreciated..
    Much obliged.
     
  2. I've been teaching drama for a few years now, working with children of all ages, in various places, from schools to clubs.
    I am a trained teacher in Secondary and have enjoyed working with many different year groups.
    My only personal downfall is my lack of academia. I didnt study drama at school and I got my degree through practical and performance work as opposed to the theory behind it all. I have never had to perform or study a Shakespeare and I've never written an essay about Arthur Miller.
    When much of the drama coursework in the upper stages rely so much on the written work, I stumble and feel quite ashamed that I seem to know so little despite my wealth of experience and other knowledge. I have had 16 year olds tell me the themes behind a play, where I have been completely unaware. [​IMG]
    Colleagues believe I can 'learn' how to do this, but can I??? Can I really just pick up 'The Crucible' for example and learn what its saying? or can I just regurgitate some stuff from the web with no real understanding? I dont think I can do that.
    How can I possibly expect a pupil to write an essay on a subject I have little understanding of, let alone have no experience of writing myself??
    So, Can I learn? or is it now too late? Either you've got it or you aint....... is this how it is?
    this has been niggling me for some time so your opinions are appreciated..
    Much obliged.
     
  3. That's a really honest post (applause).
    No-one could pick up a copy of the Crucible and understand all its themes unless they knew its context of being written during the 1950s American Communist witch hunts.
    So where do you get the knowledge from?
    Colleagues, for a start. Those physically around you and those in your LA and those on sites such as these.
    Self-study. It has never been easier. The Internet is great... and a monster.
    CPD. Night school. How can a 16 yr old tell you what the theme in a play is without you knowing yourself unless they have been taught the play in, say, English lessons, or are you are saying your pupils are more intutive than you are?
    Not all Drma courses are theory / essay based. If you are Drama trained, more from a practical angle, try to go down the BTEC route.
    Will add more as I think about this, but there is nothing that will substitute for wanting to know more. If you don't want to, you never will.


     

  4. many thanks for your reply.
    RE 16 yr olds knowing more is based on my covering a class on a supply basis and having to teach from their current coursework.
    I am based in scotland so a BTEC course is not an option. Self study is the obvious answer but how do I know I'm correct? I'm a bit embarrased to mention this to any colleagues. I once had considered asking someone to mark an essay for me but given I'm supposed to be the professional I chickened out, ......I have never been good at written work so my confidence is very low. I've often wondered if I could pass the Higher drama course, isnt that a little strange??!


     
  5. You are not alone !!!!
    I have felt the same as you, I too came from a practical and performance background and had never "studied" the theorists practitioners or major plays I feel that every other "drama" person knows !!!
    Its not too late to learn - Trust me !!!
    I started by reading the plays and essay study guides and writing notes on bits I was unsure of to look up when I had a "coffee" moment !
    Marking written work was a whole new and daunting experience, but I got some examples off the Board across the mark scheme and looked at these with a more senior colleague - in my case, I had to bite the bullet and go ask other colleagues in the LA from other schools for help and general standardisation, I felt stupid at first, buts its a real eye opener to swap infomation, I may have been given help understanding theorists etc, but I could offer myself up to give more practical stage knowledge which incidentally quite a few colleagues fnd this bit scary whilst it is second nature to me.
    A lot of info I have read up myself in recommended books, websites and discussion forums, I started with the topics on the exam criteria, got these tapped and then moved on to other bits and pieces and at this moment I have a better confidence that I can speak with some knowledge of plays and theorist and see where it relates back to my practical knowledge and I feel more rounded and less like a square peg in a round hole !! It was quite liberating and now a couple of years down the line and I am completing my Ma Drama !
    It niggled me when I started and I always felt the "less knowledgeable" teacher and almost like a fraud that was winging it !! But you have to remember that practical knowledge counts for a lot too, Drama these days is not all about this man or that man or this play etc, granted it is very important, yet a lot is about the journey the student is on and how they got there in the end. A sound knowledge how the business actually works is a blessing this day and age
    But the idea is to break it up into chunks, to read "The Crucible" beginning to end once isn't going to help you very much, granted you will know the basic plot, but break it up into the major scenes ( just like you would for a performance) and go over it from there - check out the history of the era and country that the play is based ( I like to do this as a background task before I even read the play sometimes, especially if it is a well known piece of work, then I understand the cultural references ) Look at it from different chracters perspectives.
    Most importantly get out and watch plays for real, sometimes I never truly understand a play until it is performed.
    And don't worry if someone especially a 16 year old tells you their understanding and themes of a play - thats great they are understanding it and I hope this makes sense, every person relates to a play differently and has a different perspective due to age, sex or cultural differences amongst other things so everyone will pick up on different themes throughout.
    You will find that the regurgitation soon becomes a minute part of your knowledge

    I hope this helps, I know that there are colleagues on this site that will have varying ideas and will probably reply more eloquently, However I thought I would offer my own ideas and opinions as I felt in a similar situation and you are definitley not alone


     

  6. Well, thats really refreshing to read, thank you everyone. I know that I can find out stuff for myself, I have the resources to do so and thank you lesley, I know all the teachers in my local authority which is why I'm feeling too awkward to ask for help, besides they are busy enough, :)
    maybe during the easter break i'll find some time to get some reading under my belt. I'm not in any permanent employment at present (who is, in this day and age!?) and so there is no real urgency at the moment.
    I'll make it a resolution to become more knowledgable, in 'bite size chunks'.
    thank you for giving me a little bit of an oomph!
     
  7. Actually on the plus side, be thankful you have 16 year olds understanding the themes of a play, I know many teachers would give their left arm for one of those students !!!!

     
  8. DaisysLot

    DaisysLot Senior commenter

    Indeed a commendably honest post.... I sincerely believe that the hardest thing about learning is to recognise that you need to learn it in the first place....

    Read, read, read.... and hunt out some *good* courses to get on that can fuel your passion....:)
     
  9. You'll find that Higher English pupils studying The Crucible may well know the (literary) themes they need for that exam. These themes, in my opinion, bear only a passing relation to the themes needed to understand the play in action, for an audience. Don't let their regurgitated EngLit intimidate you! For that reason, I wouldn't choose it as a set text, and I have been known to enthuse to pupils about what a 'wonderful read' the play is... [​IMG]
    Shakespeare, sadly, also suffers from EngLit. When you get past the 'Culture' tag and have to perform it yourself, you'll be blown away by how subversive and anti-establishment it can be.
    Echo all the previous posts... good ideas there, in response to a professional & honest post, which touched me: we all have our areas of (perceived or relative) weakness.
    I'm probably not too far from you - work (only intermittently, sadly) on both sides of the Border - feel free to PM me if you want to explore less public exchanges of ideas.
     

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