The ‘Performing Arts’ in Education

I love it when you meet a teacher in your school and they say to you ‘well you don’t have a lot of writing do you? you just act? I mean we have so much marking to do…’ and then you see them digging deeper and deeper into their hole as you look on with a shocked expression on your face – thinking… what planet is this teacher on and if i say anything to them I might actually either burst out crying or turn into the Incredible Hulk!

Everyone who knows me knows how much I love my job and love where I teach, the pupils are incredible (with a few exceptions) and you feel you are making a difference in what you do.

The issue I have is that I teach pupils from a very middle class background where the ‘academic’ subjects are seen as more of a foundation than the ’arts’. I find it amazing to feel that we always go on about giving pupils options but in fact in most cases it’s actually the parents who we are giving options too… parent power.

The fact that a parent said to me… ‘oh we didn’t realise there was so much written work in Drama, we thought it would be his fun subject’ (sic) shows that under the Curriculum for Excellence… the ‘performing’ arts could be under threat in middle class schools…

The Scottish Government has released the proposed new courses for subjects for National 4 and National 5 (new S4 courses for our pupils). It looks like that pupils will have to opt for only 5 subjects to specialise in for S4 (each course being made up of three units at 40 hours each) – with English, Maths and a Science taking priority… so that leaves two subjects to choose from (a social subject and then one left for Drama, French, Music, Art, Latin, Classics, CDT, Business Studies, Computing, Home Econmics, Italian, P.E. etc…) An S2 pupil said to me as they left my classroom… ‘I want to do Drama but it’s up to my parents’ – to which I wanted to reply… ‘oh yeah I forgot they were sitting the examination’. I want to say that at Knox the parents are amazing and have fully supported everything we do… i’m still worried though… especially when you hear of teachers in Edinburgh and Mid-Lothian being made surplus (who have full timetables) and loosing teachers for money saving purposes… the arts are easy targets.

Why the importance of Drama in Education? Let’s see what HMIE have to say… you can read it here.

I’m all for parent power… as long as they fully understand what each subject involves… we all want what is best for the pupil afterall AND teachers ARE ACTORS! From Maths Teachers to Drama Teachers… you perform infront of an audience every hour of the school day – ‘The educational importance of drama is widely recognised, despite the fact that it does not hold a central place in the secondary curriculum. Drama can contribute to the development of personal and social skills.’ HMIE