Today’s post is a guest post on Artist Strong by Karla O, you can follow her on Twitter @karlao_dtn

Why The Subject of Drama is a Necessity for Every Child

In recent months Australian and UK Drama Teachers have been back on the front line defending their subject.

Most recently Drama was being vigorously defended by teachers in Australia after it was claimed by a Careers Adviser, ‘‘It’s crazy to think you might do music and drama for the HSC because you’re really good at them and then potentially get into medicine.’’

Similarly in the UK, teachers were waiting with baited breath as Michael Gove, Education Secretary considered the slashing of several “vocational” subjects in favour of what he considered to be “more rigorous” subjects for the GCSE exams.

Thankfully, Drama was spared this time around and in Australia too it continues to hang on due in large part to the vocal support Drama Teachers throw behind the subject they are so passionate about. Not only are these teachers at the coal face teaching their beloved subject each day but they are also acting as public relations machines in an attempt to ensure that the value of an arts education is not stolen from the next generation of young people.

I know this passionate voice is carried by many teachers across the world, not just the UK and Australia, including the US (as per the STEM vs STEAM battle) and is the voice that I am bringing to this article that I write for you today. I live my job because of my passion for it and my belief that arts education is a necessity for every child.

Image by Joanna Penn via Flickr; Will you help be the change?

Image by Joanna Penn via Flickr; Will you help be the change?

I’m not particularly political but I keep abreast of it in the news because I believe it is my professional responsibility to know what reforms are being made across the entire education system as well as the arts – and to ensure I have a say about it. Now being a Twitter user I am able to connect with teachers worldwide and understand that their struggle is much the same as mine.

In both articles, valid points are made as to the decisions and changes that need to be made. Students should be picking subjects that are going to help them succeed at university in whatever they choose to do. They should not select courses that are leaving them behind the eight ball and then needing to catch up with bridging classes. In saying that, should we in fact be “pigeon hole-ing” students into particular careers at all? Forcing them to lock a career in at 16 years of age when let’s face it, who actually had a clue at that age as to what they wanted to do? These are big picture questions. Questions that politicians tend to ignore.

Political arguments and ideologies aside and perhaps I am naive in saying this, but for me, it simply comes back to one thing: why should we discriminate against subjects at all? When did it become that some subjects are more “valid” than others? Since we became a rampant, capitalist society? Since money and power took precedence over deep thought and creativity? Since we need to be at the top of a table and place a numerical figure against everything regardless of social and emotional growth and wellbeing? Excuse my cynicism for a moment.

In all honesty, when I strip everything away and ask why I am a teacher I simply say, what kind of human being do I want to create for the future? Can an arts education help with that? By golly, it can.

The hypocrisy of it is, is that many companies are craving creative individuals who are able to problem solve, strategise and collaborate in flexible and new ways, these being many of the skills Drama develops but something that education reformists seem to fail to see.

Image from Nic McPhee via Flickr Creative Commons

Image from Nic McPhee via Flickr Creative Commons; Do you think businesses want sheep, or creative thinkers/leaders?

I know I am preaching to the converted and the argument can emotionally weigh all of us down sometimes. But then I think about what I do in the classroom everyday and I know that what is happening in that room is making a world of difference to a child’s social and emotional growth far beyond anything Michael Gove, Christopher Pyne, or any other political reformist could understand. I’ve seen it. My students have told me the impact it has had on their lives. Parents have thanked me for it. Having been to school 30 years ago does not mean you understand education today or its needs and is why we must all unfortunately, continue to fight for it. Short sightedness is a common trait in politics.

In 2014 many of you, once again, will face being on the defensive in front of your school board, at elective informational evening and during parent/teacher conferences. Many parents will perhaps need reassurance that Drama is a worthwhile subject after being subject to all the rhetoric.

In case anyone you speak to is in doubt and you need a good argument up your sleeve I leave you with the following: In response to the above mentioned article, one of my Drama colleagues @loucopolous posted on the Drama Peeps Facebook page the following benefits of a drama education for any future medical practitioners:

1. Communication both physical and verbal – especially reading subtext in others.

2. Collaboration with other healthcare professionals to achieve results by a specified time.

3. Ability to improvise in a difficult situation whilst staying calm.

4. Bedside manner – through empathy developed in co-operation.

5. High level literacy skills including understanding of audience and social context.

6. Understanding of the use of applied drama for social health and preventative medicine.

Wouldn’t you want your doctor to be able to do all of these things?

 

BE COURAGEOUSLY CREATIVE: You can take action today  through the people you support in school systems and on a larger scale, in politics. Businesses, you can also impact school curricula. Tell schools what you want in your future employees. You can also be advocates for the arts!

Thank you Karla for your wonderful explanation of Why Do the Arts Matter! Why Do The Arts Matter to you? Email: Carrie@ArtistThink.com to help support and celebrate the arts by sharing your perspective.

 

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