By Shelley SmithDale, Arts Coordinator
Most students are encouraged to take English, Math and Science. Filling a timetable with ‘frills’ such as Drama doesn’t seem advantageous to some. I’d like to contend that over my 37 years of teaching I have seen how Drama impacts students lives. Many of my former students have returned to tell me how Drama has assisted them as they became doctors, lawyers, police officers and teachers, to name a few. In our society where people are becoming more isolated with all the available technology, Drama brings people together where they must work and understand each other on a whole different level.
Drama allows students to communicate with and understand others in new ways, like all the Arts. Drama is an essential tool for preparing students to live and work in our world where it is increasingly team oriented rather than hierarchical. It enables students to develop tolerance and empathy. Drama promotes communication skills, teamwork, dialogue, negotiation, and socialization. It stimulates the imagination and creativity; it develops a better understanding of human behaviour and empathy in a variety of situations. The skills that are learned by studying drama are invaluable in later life.
Here I have listed my top 14 out of “79 reasons to take Drama”, from Mr. Lawrence Espinosa:
- You will increase your self-esteem and confidence.
- You will learn the skills of listening, negotiating and communicating.
- You will learn empathy and identification. Drama opens up new dimensions of emotional experiences. By observing other people’s creative processes and products, it can assist you in accessing emotions, along with understanding different ways of interpreting and understanding information. In drama we express ideas, observations and feelings by making choices about roles and/or characters
- It will increase your ability to think; creatively, imaginatively and divergently. You learn how to think outside the square. Drama teaches students how to become critical consumers, rather than just passive viewers. Students are expected to question and critique their own and others’ processes and products.
- You will develop higher order thinking skills. We can often be limited by our own attitudes and beliefs. Drama requires us to view things from multiple perspectives, inviting us to share control of a narrative between different players. This automatically widens our perspectives, allowing us to synthesise and evaluate information at a much higher level.
- You will express your creativity in a variety of ways. In drama there is no right or wrong, creative play is encouraged and mistakes are often happy accidents. “Creative people do things. They make. They assemble. They put together. They make connections where connections were not previously apparent”.
- You will learn how to work in a team effectively. Drama is full of games, or rather complex group dynamics and team building exercises (games sound more fun). Learning how to work collaboratively is a precious and important skill. Drama helps you learn how to let go of what you want to say and respond to others’ viewpoints or actions in a safe and fun environment.
- You will walk away with an understanding of important aspects of our psychology – who we are, what we think, feel and act vs what we say and do.
- You will learn about emotions and how to express them.
- You will celebrate differences and diversities.
- You will learn how to give feedback and take on board feedback. Drama teaches us how to ask questions that help make sense of learning. The two simple questions; ‘what worked’ and ‘what could be improved next time’ encourage students to offer constructive feedback and think critically and positively about their own and others’ performances.
- You will get over your insecurities. In drama you have a right to be silly. One’s ability to laugh at our mistakes and ourselves is important in a business that can be tough and demanding. As students, it is sometimes difficult to take criticism of one’s work. In drama students have the chance to give and take feedback in a constructive way, not personal or hurtful. At the same time, their skin needs to toughen.
- You will learn how to excel in public speaking/ presenting.
- You will learn how to rethink, reconsider, replace, refine, redo, reaffirm, reprocess, rewrite and reconceptualize. What better lesson could students learn in coping with life than the importance of the “re” component?