A couple of days ago, I touched upon the word ‘passion’ in this blog’s opening post. Today, I intend to revisit this topic in more detail.
Last year I sat down with a fellow colleague and respectfullly enquired just how the hell does she get so passionate about teaching senior Mathematics? I knew she was an outstanding Maths teacher and at times I could literally see the passion for her subject in her eyes when talking to her. Everyone comes from a certain viewpoint, so my perspective was the memory of being a 15 year old boy who was so damn bad at Mathematics, I was almost ENcouraged by my teachers NOT to pursue it in my final two years of schooling. I didn’t see the value of numbers in a world where we use dialogue to communicate with one another and to me, numbers were boring (ironically, today ‘Numb3rs’ is one of my favourite shows on TV!).
She said the beauty of Mathematics lay in the fact that there was only one correct answer to a problem and seeing her students strive to achieve this was her challenge. This was one reason why she was so passionate about Maths. ‘Strange’ I uttered. Because I knew the exact opposite was one of the reaons why I am so passionate about Drama teaching. When a student asks me ‘how do I seamlessly change into performing a second character in a solo performance?’, I tell her the sky’s the limit. The possible answers to her problem are infinite, limited only by the confines of her imagination. Some answers are better than others, but there is no one, correct answer to the problem. Today, I often say to students young and old ‘this is not Maths, there’s no one answer in the back of the book. This is Drama….and there are hundreds of answers and possibilities’.
Passion in Drama teaching is sometimes underrated. A Drama teacher’s passion for their craft is arguably the most important tool they may possess. Passion in Drama teaching goes hand in hand with inspiration. If I can say to myself after a day in the classroom, that I inspired my students with my passion for this discipline, then as far as I’m concerned, my day was a success. To prove my point, even outside Drama class, my car licence plate is ‘DRAMA’. Some of my students think I’m crazy, even a little odd. But others who know me better, know that Drama is my passion and I’m happy to advertise it to the world!
And the best thing about passion in Drama teaching is that it sticks like mud to your students. For some of them, it never comes off. These are the students who have a love for drama, theatre and acting running through their veins 24/7, 365 days a year. They’re usually the same ones who come to class looking a bit tired most days because to them, sleep is a waste of time. They can’t sit still. There’s too much to do. Drama class at school. Drama class after school. Musical or play rehearsals. Theatre shows to see and talk about. Favourite actors’ lives to follow in the media and on the web. It’s a never ending passion for the one and only thing in life that matters to them…….an unquestionable love for drama!
In the theatre, we teach our students that if they don’t fully believe in the character they are portaying, then why should the audience believe them? To put it more harshly, you’re nothing more than a fake. A fraud. It’s the same with Drama teaching. If you’re not passionate about it, pack your bags and go home! You can’t ‘fake’ Drama teaching. Because the day you do, your students will see right though you.
But if you’re passionate … your Drama students will run with you till the end. And for a Drama teacher, it just doesn’t get any better than that.