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6 Comments

  1. Your story about the football captain really resonated with me as I recently had a very similar experience. I carefully cast a few of the bigger roles in the whole school production (P-12) to a few of the ‘cool cats’ after a lot of encouragement and the promise of being remembered for years to come. Talk about creating a buzz that filtered through the whole school. Needless to say and undoubtedly bias but, PRODUCTION OF THE YEAR. Fast forward to November with a whole school Christmas concert looming and the same students wanting no part in it, it’s like blood from a stone (sigh). If only they could remember the good times and bright lights of the 900 seat theatre rather then thinking about performing in the court yard on a possible sticking hot day in December.

    1. Isn’t it interesting Grace how some students remember school productions for years to come, while others very quickly erase from their memory the joys of being in a school show. It is also true some students are happy to be in anything (no matter what you’re producing!), while others are quite choosy with what they are prepared to be involved in. Looks like peer pressure got to the ‘cool cats’ in your example.

  2. This is a very valuable discussion. It is a fact that students will take my classes based upon whether it is “too hard or not.” To this, I say, do you want to learn or not. Most kids quickly discover what type of teacher I am once they finally sign up for the class – but word of mouth (just like for a show) can bring or take away an audience. I think the key is an open discussion – – the first day of EVERY new class – I talk to the students about why they took the class, why they may not have taken the class and what they had heard. I share truth and dispel rumors. Then I do the very same thing with the parents. When a parent comes to me and says, ” I don’t understand why my child has a B-…it’s just drama,” we have a long discussion about what “just drama” is. I share all of the things you all have been discussing. We have to keep talking about it – or, as you said, it becomes a soft subject and anything to do with theatre -when done well – is neither soft nor easy. It has taken a few years but now there is a culture at my school that has been created and that now has the students saying, “The classes are tough because she demands excellence (if you are willing to put in the work – you will be rewarded), you will learn a lot, you will have a fun time, and never forget the adventures that arose.”

    Thank you for this great post! I really appreciate the discussion.

  3. Thanks so much for discussing this topic. I’m reminded how important it is to make connections with the skills learned in drama and how they are transferable to so many other vocations. The hard part is getting staff, parents and students to see it!!!

  4. It is also about creating a culture not only in the Drama classroom, but throughout the school. I created a Drama club which has been enormously valuable in raising the profile of Drama. When it comes to VCE, it is also important to articulate to middle years students some of the advantages to doing Drama in VCE. Things like, Drama supports English in really helping students understand about the creation of characters and their use to develop tension within a text. Also, many schools study plays in English and Literature and therefore Drama students already have a distinct advantage. Another point, which I have found is attractive to students taking on Drama, is that it gets you to use different parts of your brain and potentially provides a break from endless streams of sit down, read a lot, and then write a lot. You think differently, you work differently and can be renewed when it comes to your other subjects. Most of all, teachers who are absolutely in love with Drama inspire students to be in love with Drama.

  5. Well said, and I completely agree. I was finding it tough for year 9 students to continue on into Year 10 and further. This year, I have tried to adapt a career focus for my units. For example; in Term One we do a character and voice unit, and a Speech Pathologist comes in. Term Two we direct a Children’s Theatre play so a teacher speaks to them about using drama in a classroom. Term Three is documentary theatre and we speak to journalists, while term four they plan their own show (this year it is a murder mystery night) and we have visits from Event Planners. Hopefully I could see an impact in my class numbers.