Your son/daughter is studying Drama this term at school. You may not be aware of what the subject of Drama entails, so we thought we’d write you a note to let you know.
In Drama we play (a lot): Yes, this okay. I know you are thinking play should be left to lunch time in the school yard. But in Drama we play with scripts, props, costumes and even our minds. From play, stems some of our best material.
In Drama we use our imagination: This is how we become great thinkers. In Drama we like to think more about what something could be, rather than what it already is. We think outside the box and relish the opportunity to use our imaginations at any cost. Imagine that!
In Drama we love being creative: We like to ignore what most governments and curriculum authorities suggest by placing creativity at the top of our learning tree. We only have to look at some of our friends in school who do not study Drama, to see how difficult it really is to be truly creative. Regardless of what others may think, we know being creative in Drama makes us better learners in all our subjects at school. Could someone please tell our teachers that. We think a few of them missed the memo. For more information on the importance of creativity, please check the manufacturer of your iPhone or simply Google ‘Google’ to see how two of the most successful companies in the world have creativity in the workplace at the very core of their business model.
In Drama we engage: We love what we do in Drama class so much, we sometimes refer to it as our passion. Yep, even the boys. We learn about human relationships by working closely with classmates and through studying characters in play scripts, discover more about traditions in our own culture and others around the world, understand what community is just by looking around our class, get in touch with our emotions every lesson, and use higher order thinking skills like decision-making, interpreting, anaylsing, evaluating, and reviewing. In Drama we regularly use both sides of our brain at the same time – not as easy as it sounds! We love making things, exploring possibilities and taking risks. We also enjoy sharing our experiences in Drama with others through dramatising our own stories and those written by other people. Most of us do not have a problem staying back after school to paint the set for our class play, rehearse scripts at lunchtime with our friends, or even practice on weekends. When you are passionate about the subject you are studying, hard work becomes a challenge we enjoy and homework is just fun. We would like one whole day per week set aside for Drama class because most of us simply cannot get enough of it.
In Drama we don’t like desks: This is why we loathe the standard classroom as our Drama classroom. Where’s the room to move around and rehearse our drama plays with 28 desks and chairs in the room? We love space and usually need lots of it. Unfortunately, an active Drama classroom without chairs and desks in neat little rows looks like chaos to the uninitiated. The casual observer shrieks at the apparent lack of structure and learning taking place. But rest assured, we are probably learning more in Drama class today than those students down the hall asleep in the back of their lesson listening to the teacher talk on and on and on at the front of the room.
In Drama we make noise: This is where our friends do not understand us. You see, more often than not, we have to make noise in order to produce our drama plays. We sometimes wish our school administration could sound proof our classrooms or not keep timetabling us next door to the senior Maths class. They do not like noise, we discovered. It seems no one does. Some of our highest quality work in Drama happens while we are making noise. As a result, we learn collaboratively better than most students do, problem-solve as much as the Maths students, experiment more often than the Science students (we just don’t call them ‘experiments’) and do ‘presentations’ in class all the time!
In Drama we build confidence: ‘Confidence?’, I hear you say. It’s that life skill every young person needs but few subjects at school actually cater for. We are so confident about confidence we would even argue it is a by-product of our study, yet still offer you a guarantee of obtaining confidence if you study Drama. Some of our students have confidence in spades. These tend to drive their other teachers up the wall. Other students begin a course in Drama with little confidence and leave at the end with a healthy dose of confidence needed for good living. At many schools, the secret is out that studying Drama gives you more confidence. But sadly, other schools are yet to learn this.
In Drama we create life-long memories: Mushy as it might sound, we often create moments in the course of our study that become life-long memories. Some of us are not always aware of it at the time, but after leaving high school it is often the things connected to Drama that become fond memories for us for years to come. Many of us will find ourselves dreaming in the middle of the night of our high school musical, sitting in the car at traffic lights reciting a random line from a Year 9 Drama play, or simply recalling school life as a positive experience because of Drama. As Drama is such a collaborative art form, these experiences with others are sure to become rich memories for decades.
In Drama we are prepared for both university and life: Just because things like standardised testing don’t fit neatly with aspects of our subject (we know you curriculum guys are still struggling measuring creativity), doesn’t mean in Drama we don’t learn important skills. Clever students often study Drama in the senior school even when they have no intention of a career in the performing arts industry or arts education. Those that go on to study Law and Medicine at university, for example, realise how important language, problem-solving, communication skills and confidence are in those professions. So they still study Drama at the top end of high school in order to obtain these skills. Not everyone who studies Drama wants to be an actor or a Drama teacher. Heck no! The skills we learn in Drama class are universal skills that prepare us for university and life after university as well. If only more people knew this!
Next time your son/daughter discusses with you his/her interest for further study in Drama at school, please refer to the contents of this letter.
The Drama Teacher.