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Australian Curriculum: The Arts Draft (F-10) Published

The Australian Curriculum and Assessment Authority (ACARA) has just published the draft of The Arts Curriculum for Foundation to Year 10. This of course includes the subject of Drama, officially one of the five Arts subjects in Australia’s national curriculum (along with Dance, Media Arts, Music and Visual Arts).

For international readers of The Drama Teacher, Australia is only now adopting a national curriculum for its schooling systems. The significant implementation of English, Mathematics, Science and History (Phase 1 subjects) is being implemented in Australian schools in 2013, while Drama, (as parts of The Arts in Phase 2 subjects) is being implemented in 2014. “Foundation” last year replaced “Kindergarten” as the accepted term for the first year of schooling in the new curriculum, because kindergarten meant different things in various states and territories of Australia.

Along with many other drama educators in Australia, I contributed a number of suggestions in the consultation period for the draft of the previous stage, the Arts Shape Paper, a document that informed the writers  of the draft curriculum for The Arts that has just been published. It is important for readers to understand this is a draft and the official consultation period for feedback on this draft runs until 23 September 2012.

At first glance, I have to say I am pleased with this draft. Relevant to all arts educators is the overall Rationale and Aims section of the curriculum, followed by the Organisation section. The next relevant area is the Drama curriculum itself, Foundation to Year 10. The Glossary section at the end of the curriculum document is relevant to all arts educators.

The Arts Curriculum Draft for Drama is divided into the following:

Bands

  • F-2
  • 3-4
  • 5-6
  • 7-8
  • 9-10
Strands
  • Making: using processes, techniques, knowledge and skills to make art works
  • Responding: exploring, responding to, analysing and interpreting art works
Content Descriptions
  • eg: 2.1 imagine and act out roles and situations participating in dramatic play and role play (F-2)
Content Elaborations
  • eg: initiating and accepting roles in a real or imagined situation such as shop customer, a news reader in a studio or the inventor of a magical machine (F-2)
Elements of Drama (with descriptors)
  • role and character
  • relationships
  • situation
  • focus
  • tension
  • space
  • movement
  • time
  • language
  • mood and atmosphere
  • symbol
Glossary
  • a number of drama-specific and general arts terms with descriptors, some of which also relate to the subject of Drama
CHECK THIS OUT:  Friday Essay: The Arts And Our Still-Born National Identity

I would be surprised if there was an uproar from Drama teachers about this draft curriculum. Terminology is broad enough not to be contentious, yet narrow enough to define a concept or action properly and be implemented in the classroom. The content descriptions and elaborations for Drama at the various bands are useful and logical, allowing scope for experienced educators and curriculum planners to experiment within the rules, but prescriptive enough for less experienced drama educators to plan and teach a robust curriculum off the page. If one compares these descriptions across all bands you will see a logical progression in teaching, student understanding and skill application from the imaginative and playful ideas for drama in Foundation to the complex and sophisticated drama making needed for Year 10.

The two strands of Making and Responding should please most drama educators (I hope!). For those readers of The Drama Teacher from its base in Victoria, you would be aware the Victorian Essential Learning Standards (VELS) for Drama up to Year 10 were divided into the areas of Creating and Making and Exploring and Responding. The new national curriculum Drama draft strands of Making and Responding for Drama should therefore not be a shock to anyone and easily understood.

I encourage drama educators to have your say about this draft curriculum for The Arts. The consultation period until 23 September 2012 is open to anyone and if you have an opinion on the document this should be heard, so don’t be shy! Provide ACARA with your feedback at their online questionnaire.

In the meantime, first impressions about the Draft Curriculum for The Arts (F-10) from drama educators across the country are welcome. Feel free to comment below.

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