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Discussion in 'Drama and performing arts' started by walshj77, Nov 24, 2010.
So Drama teachers...your views...do we think Drama is going to disappear from schools altogether?
I'm getting ready to try my hand at a bit of Latin teaching...
What????? I've missed something...... Drama CAN'T disappear from schools!!!! I know it's not on the National Curriculum or anything but...why would the Govt want rid of it???? Don't they want articulate, confident, team workers in this country?????????????????
How on earth, I wonder, did anyone manage to be an 'articulate, confident team worker' 'before they put drama on the curriculum? I think we managed somehow.
Most articulate confident people over the age of about 55 never did drama at school. Excluding the actors, most of the confident articulate people you see on the telly never did drama. Most of the articulate, confident people who run the media, business, politics, journalism and the armed forces never did drama either.
The idea that doing 1 hour of drama per week in a school produces confident, articulate, team workers is nonsense.
I know it is used by unthinking drama teachers as an argument to justify drama on the school curriculum but there is no evidence that drama produces 'articulate, confident, team workers'. In fact I think precisely the opposite might the case: we seem to have produced a self preoccupied X factor generation who are a passive unquestionning audience for a media that works to make them stupid, innarticulate and lacking in confidence.
Producing confident, articulate team workers is also an argument used to justify sport! If this argument is used to justify drama on the curriculum then we shouldn't be surprised if it does disappear!
I'm still going to disagree - I have plenty evidence in my grades and the way my students work that Drama DOES produce people who can work effectively as a member of a team, ARE articulate (in most cases more articulate than they were before they did Drama) AND it undoubtedly helps with building confidence, discipline, teamwork etc......How can anyone seriously think it doesn't? Aren't these 'life' skills? I am currently sat in my drama space where the Learning Mentor is actually doing drama activities with students who struggle to integrate within their normal lessons....are you trying to tell me that we should accept that this style of working with students should go and we should go back to having them all sat behind desks, being talked at instead? Sorry but comments like that make me angry - I used to be really shy and introverted and Drama really helped me with all these skills - I wouldn't be where I am now if it wasn't for Drama.........I have lots of evidence to justify my job and my subject's place in the curriculum.
I am not saying that we shouldn't teach drama merely that while there are plenty of good reasons to teach it but the least effective and realistic argument for drama is that it produces confident, articulate people. There are people in education who argue that studying latin produces confident, articulate students. I don't think they are right either.
Your own subjective experience won't do, I'm afraid, as objective evidence. My experience of 35 years teaching drama tells me the opposite; which begs the question, whose experience best reflects the national picture. My experience is worth no more and no less than yours. We would only know who is right when we can quote an objective study which has surveyed the effectiveness of school curriclum drama on the general population. I have never seen a single piece of research which looks at this; there is no evidence. Plenty of strongly held opinion but no evidence. Peter Slade, the founding father of educational drama wrote, in 'Child Drama' 1956 that 'any boy who has not had drama is quite frankly a lout'. It was a belief he firmly held but it was clearly nonsense. As drama teaching developed we simply replaced his nonsense with a more acceptable form of the same thing ie that drama teaching produces confidence.
I suspect that socially confident and articulate students are attracted to drama and do well while the more introverted students often find it a bit of trial and it has little effect on them. For many students drama is just a 'bit of a laugh' and a break from lessons. Students can appear to gain in confidence in the drama lesson but I suspect that this confidence is not necessarily transferrable to other social situations. Social confidence and the ability to be articulate relates very much to the social context. As a simple example I have met many teachers who are confident and articulate in front of 30 students but who are exceedingly uncomfortable and lacking ion confidence when asked to address the whole school.
I am very protective about my subject (as it clearly helped me - I'm still introverted and won't speak out in staff meetings etc but I can put on the confident 'act' I need to as most Dramatists including some of your best actors will do too) and I am very protective about my job - I love teaching Drama and, couldn't see myself doing anything else (except perhaps acting!)
I just cannot understand how anyone could possibly think that it does students little good. ASK the students themselves!!!! All my lot love my lessons, and they don't ALL see it as a 'bit of a laugh' - maybe one or two at GCSE level but not at A level! The ones at GCSE level who don't take it seriously get asked to leave (if SLT will allow me). My grades have ALWAYS been excellent - 100% pass rate at A Level for 5 years running (I'm in my sixth year here) and 100% pass rate at GCSE level.......The kids LOVE it, they get SO much from it and I'm enthusiastic which can only rub off on them. I've had seriously angry students who have totally excelled at Drama, seriously dyslexic students who have finally found something they are GOOD at....what's wrong with trying to protect that? It's the Government I'm annoyed with as they clearly don't have a clue and if anyone asks me for evidence - ask the kids, ask the head of my school.....come and observe my lessons if anyone wants fundamental "proof"!!
I can see both sides. I do agree that drama can help to make students more confident and articulate and I can definitely cite examples of students who have benefitted in a broad sense from doing drama.
However, there are lots of other ways of teaching these skills to students. Lots of group work based subjects and extra curricular activities teach the same things.
I do think it's a shame that this is the only way to justify our subject. It's been discussed lots on here but I don't think that the 'transferrable skills' are the only reason drama is on the curriculum and I'd like to think that we could make a stronger argument than this for our subject.
Don't misunderstand me. I am not questionning your expertise, your enthusiasm or your students' expertise and enthusiasm; or the value of drama in schools. But I am questionning your idea that drama can be justified by the argument that it makes people more confident, arfticulate and good team workers. Does your argument work for those students in KS3 who are forced to do drama?
'I just cannot understand how anyone could possibly think that it does students little good.'
Drama as a kind of nice pink medicine that 'does students good' is more than a little suspect. In fact it's Peter Slade's, drama as some kind of innate social good, view. Drama doesn't <u>do</u> anyone any good but it does make you <u>feel</u> good. It is fun!
Doing drama, at whatever level, makes some people (but not all) feel good because they are satisfying their innate need to be creative. Some people satisfy the need by playing music or painting or in a myriad of ways; my wife makes wonderful patchwork. Your students who love drama, love it because that they are being creative in a medium that that is sympathetic to their particular talents and attributes. It is psychologically satisfying but that has nothing to do with transferable social confidence or 'life skills' (whatever they are). You give yourself as an example of someone who is confident in drama but introverted in other contexts, which, I might suggest, proves my point in your case.
Governments rarely have a clue about the arts so don't be surprised - we have been here before. Generally governments, partcularly conservative governments, are never sympathetic to the arts. The exception being post war and 1960's Labour governments. It was under Jennie Lee, the arts minister in 1964, that there was a flowering of the arts, including drama and theatre. It was then that drama teaching in schools started in a big way.
The timing of my previous post got confused. I posted it before the two posts preceding it- not sure what happened...
Anyway, I think the argument of excellent exam results is an unfair one. I have a similar record of exam results and I am extremely lucky to work with some fantastically enthusiastic and talented students. I am realistic though and am also aware that the picture at KS3 is quite different. There are some who love the subject and benefit from it a lot and others who, in all honesty, gain nothing from it. Those students might have life-changing experiences in maths, PE, music, art, etc... I feel that it's a little dismissive to assume that drama has this power that no other subjects possess. Of course it works well for our students who choose to study our subject at KS4 and 5, but many also choose not to continue it past KS3 and go on to be confident, articulate, etc. as they develop these skills in other ways. Drama worked for me - as a shy child I loved drama and the creative outlet it gave me and it certainly improved my confidence. But of course, this isn't the case for everyone. My best friend *hated* drama at school and is now an equally confident, far more articulate person who hasn't suffered in the least from never studying the subject.
I also teach students who behave well in drama and not elsewhere. In reality, if drama had such an impact on them then they would be behaving in all lessons. That they choose to behave in drama and not elsewhere suggests that they enjoy drama lessons and a practical style of working, but that the skills that they use in the drama studio *aren't* transferring into other areas of their lives. This doesn't diminish the work we do with them in drama - clearly it's always positive when students succeed in any area of school life - but it certainly doesn't support the notion that these students have been 'transformed' by their experience of drama.
I agree with ralf - it's not an argument against teaching drama but there are so many other reasons why we teach it. I am a passionate drama teacher - I believe in the subject I teach but I didn't pursue it at A level, university and beyond because of the 'transferrable skills'; I did so because it's an art form that I love. I've said it many times before on here, but no other arts subject feels the need to constantly justify itself in this way. Art, music, dance, etc., have equally passionate, dedicated students and potentially also produce equally excellent results. You won't find a thread like this on any of their forums, I'm certain.
In response to the OP, I think that not much will change for drama, since provision is so patchy anyway as we are not a foundation subject. I do feel concerned that options blocks will look very different when pupils have to choose a humanities subject and a language - there is only so much time in the school week. I fear that the rest of us will be lumped into another block with the rest of the options subject and pupils's choices will be very limited. This may well have a big impact on numbers for GCSE and the knock on effect will be A level. Who knows - we will see!
Sorry, that was paragraphed! Safari took it away!!
I think realistically we can expect some drama studios to become storage rooms once again, much as many did in the 1980's, before being unlocked and revived in the last 20 years.... Drama is one of those subjects that is sadly disposable - This is highlighted in its omission from the National Curriculum as a stand alone subject.
It seems to me that the White Paper is making it possible for schools to decide whether they offer Drama or not. The pressures to offer the English baccalaureate to all students could well squeeze out other subjects that are not currently on Gove's list. Presumably school curriculum meetings up and down the country will be looking at their option offers and wondering how to squeeze it all in.
I remember when something similar happend with the introduction of the National Curriculum, one thing that helped to keep Drama on the curriculum was a report brought out by the Secondary Head's Association Drama Sets You Free (see article https://www.tes.co.uk/article.aspx?storycode=79663). Maybe it's time to lobby our school leaders, both in our own schools and via Drama Teacher organisations.
Interesting thread on SMT forum: https://community.tes.co.uk/forums/t/459428.aspx Good to see that schools are not necessarily reacting straight away. Waiting to see what our school has planned...
Even though drama does produce confident, articulate team workers I do agree that its not the only subject that does. However drama gives people another dimension. If you look at people about 55 or older who have never been taught drama their concern with education is that it's just a stepping stone to get a job and get money. People were not doing jobs because they liked it or wanted to do it but rather just for the money which meant that people were dying younger living with the daily stresses of life, health and so forth. We are lucky to be in a time of oppurtunity to have all this availabke to us we shouldn't step back.
Young people are in education from a lot younger and are staying on for much longer we shouldnt strangle them with the controlling system producing human robots. I do agree the curriculum needs to be revised but one step at a time.