Ever since I was a toddler, my mum called me a “Drama Queen.” Whilst my friends would brush themselves off and carry on when they fell over, for me it was the end of the world. My mum would have to deal with the tears, screams and “woe is me.” Luckily, the ‘magic flannel’ (AKA a wet flannel) seemed to make everything better.
Growing up, I lost my way with drama, deciding to choose art as a GCSE subject instead. I endured two years studying a subject I wasn’t passionate about and not that good at (according to Mrs. Garden, my art teacher – however I did manage to scrape a C grade!). Being given the opportunity to pick drama back up at A – Level changed my life and set me on the path to become the drama teacher I am today.
One of the frustrations I have in my job is that people think it isn’t a worthwhile subject. One Open Evening a parent actually looked in my studio and said “Oh we don’t need to look in here, it isn’t important.” I was furious! Yes, core subjects, such as English, math and science, are key to bagging you a job these days, however drama NEVER looks bad on a CV and is beneficial in so many ways…
1. Drama Builds Confidence
One of the best aspects of my job is seeing students who start out shy and timid performing a role to an audience confidently. Despite how they feel on the very first lesson, every student (even the quietest!) performs each week. In addition, it improves their self-esteem, allowing them to feel confident in involving themselves in group work and believing in their own creative thoughts and imagination. A high grade in GCSE drama looks great to a prospective employer, as it shows you can stand up in front of people and express yourself.
2. Drama Encourages Cooperation
Okay, so at times I spend lessons thinking if I hear “Miss *insert name here* is messing about,” followed by said child responding with, “But no one is telling me what to do!” I may go insane, but what drama does teach them is to work through the problems and work with each other to create a performance. The mixture of personalities within the groups (if I’ve differentiated the groups enough) provides a range of skills, which work together to be successful at their task. The director, the leading boy/girl, the quieter student happy to have a smaller role, the techie that thinks about lighting design and sound effects. There’s a role for every person in drama – no one is left behind.
3. Drama Helps Children to Empathize
Playing a range of characters gives students the ability to think about how people feel in a variety of situations and therefore empathize with people in real life. I firmly believe that one of the best traits a person can have is empathy for others and drama encourages that with every role a child performs.
4. Drama Teaches Children About Other Subjects/the World
Every piece of Drama begins with a stimulus, whether it be a picture of the refugees in Syria, World War 2 medals, or a picture of Rosa Parks, and the children explore these themes within their drama, in turn educating them about current affairs, history, religious education and many more! I like to think I’m encouraging children to be interested and inquisitive about the world around them through drama.
5. Drama Develops Creativity and Imagination
Our imagination only develops if we use it regularly; therefore, many adults lose their imagination, which is a real shame. Creative people are able to view situations in new ways and from different perspectives, to think spontaneously and offer new ideas – an important life skill.
6. Drama Develops Communication/Language Skills
When I say language, I don’t mean just talking…one of the first things I teach my students in Year 7 is NVC – Non Verbal Communication. Body language, facial expressions and gestures are as much a part of communicating as words and it’s important for children to be aware of this. Drama encourages children to express themselves in a variety of forms, which is imperative to making them better communicators all around.
When parents evening comes around and a mum/dad says, “She/he is a right Drama Queen at home!” (Imagine the Leeds accent) to me, my response is “Good!” It certainly didn’t do me any harm and, as the above points prove, there are a lot of benefits to being dramatic.
Being a teacher and a mum is difficult – you never feel like you’re being particularly successful at either. Additionally, within practical subjects like Performing Arts, the extracurricular activities are the most rewarding and demanding, but completely worthwhile. Every time Little L shows imagination, does a little dance or plays pretend, I am filled with such pride that his creative mind and imagination are growing and I can’t wait to see what it becomes.