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Using Drama to Teach Across the Curriculum

Samantha discusses how we should use drama across the curriculum.

How much of a benefit does drama have on a student?

Drama is not a core subject and does not have a clear curriculum but it has one of the highest grade success rates across all of the topics. Students with low academic records are able to excel in drama and likewise those on the opposite end of the scale will also have success in drama. Drama appears to have no discrimination to learning styles, ability’s or backgrounds of learners.

So why is drama not seen as a core subject and not used to teach other areas?

To be fair some schools do use drama in the best possible way and others simply offer one hour a week or even one hour every two weeks to their students; in my opinion this is not enough.
At my current placement I have developed a scheme of work that encompasses history as well as drama. We looked at the play warhorse with the year nine groups, Evacuee’s with year seven and war stories with year eights. The learners were able to understand the emotions of the people involved as well as reenact the situation whilst taking in key information about world war one and two. This has since resulted in a grant awarded to create an English heritage film about the local area using drama and history students.

Many learners will find difficulty in reading form the board to learn a subject and to remember the information. Teaching techniques try to cover all ways of learning but many underuse interpersonal, sequencing and leadership skills such as those used with drama.

I personally think that drama should be give more hours a week in the timetable, as much as English and be used to deliver other subject area topics, including media. Students can create a performance piece, film it, edit it and add music and so forth; encompassing media and IT elements. These cross curriculum projects have been proven to be effective.

Another example is teaching Shakespeare’s works form a younger age than is currently applied. The school I am based at is now a ‘hub’ school for the Royal Shakespeare Company due to delivering year seven students and up, Shakespeare. This year is the first this has been in place; I have developed the schemes of work, lesson plans and performance scenes. Written scripts, given character analysis and compared Romeo and Juliet to ‘the fast and furious’ movies!

I have discovered, Shakespeare works, and the students love the outrageous actions of the characters and feel such a sense of pride when they finally understand the word.

I thoroughly believe that drama should have a much higher place in the curriculum and be included as part of English as a core subject.

Furthermore I have witnessed over the years students with emotional issues, family problems or SEN students become confident and happy learners through the benefits of drama. Drama therapy as a field is well researched, proven and respected; within schools even when drama is for studying plays, therapeutic results often organically occur.

An amazing example of this was a small year seven boy who was witnessing abuse at home and had not told anybody. Within a drama workshop of mine, he devised a scene and performed a role of an ‘abusive,’ violent and angry father who attacked the mother character and children. After speaking to the individual he confessed it was the only way he could get it out, he could not find the words. Of course the youngster was given appropriate help for himself and his family.

My finale note is one of a positive message of drama teaching and I thoroughly believe that any subject can be taught through devising stories and performances pieces within a lesson.

“All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages.” – As you like it,
William Shakespeare

Samantha is secondary drama teacher and is currently in a long-term role in East London. She has written a few blogs for us now.

Tags: Samantha, Bromley, Secondary, drama, supply, daily, teacher

Category: Australian Teachers

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