role of education in drama
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USING RELEVANT REREARCH, AS WELL AS PRACTICAL EXPERIENCES, DISCUSS AND ANALYSE WHAT YOU UNDERSTAND BY THE IMPORTANCE OF DRAMA AS A TOOL FOR LEARNING. Drama has played a significant role within educational institutions for some time and, consequently, is by no means a new subject. Elizabethan grammar-school education involved a great deal of acting and, during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, several schools in England used Drama. At the turn of the century, John Allen cites that a Board of Education Report for 1898: Speaks approvingly of the beneficial effect of practical Drama on 'vitalising language and quickening the perceptive and expressive faculties of boyhood.'1 However, Drama was not recognised as a subject in its own right and tended to be focused upon the staging of plays. Despite this there does seem to have been one man who appreciated the importance of educational Drama both as a subject, and as a tool for learning in the teaching of English. In his book The play way (1914) a schoolteacher named Cauldwell Cook described how he taught Shakespeare to pupils by actually acting out the scenes in a small studio, as opposed to reading through the text. Rather than stopping to explain the meanings of words or phrases, the message was conveyed through the acting. Unfortunately, after Mr. Cook died in 1928, his method was not continued in the school, much to the dismay of the pupils.
As Ken Byron cites: Working on tableaux or still images of crucial moments in the play offers less threat than naturalistic enhancement.6 The pupils could then be asked to create a scene based upon the tableaux or "improvise" which is another dramatic convention useful as a tool for learning. The second element featured on the document is "knowledge and understanding" which refers to the pupils' own experience in drama but which later relates to the techniques in the lesson and the history of the Theatre. Initially, children tend to draw upon their own experiences when attempting to grasp the concept of "acting" and this can gradually be enhanced. This can prove to be an extremely useful tool when teaching Shakespeare. Providing an historical background to the play such as where they were performed, The Globe Theatre, can serve to create a heightened understanding and also captures the attention of the children, whilst gaining their interest. When I myself was at secondary school, one of my English teachers employed this technique. Snippets of information, such as the fact that Shakespeare's plays were performed for the masses and not the literary intelligentsia, helped me to perceive the notion that his plays are universal and can be related to ordinary everyday life, in any culture or era. The third element is "imagination" or the use of it, which directly links to the previous two elements discussed and is necessary in their usage.
In an article in the Times Educational Supplement on Friday October 23rd 1998, entitled "Acting Teaches the Things That Cant Be Told" it was reported that one respondent to the survey wrote of Drama in School: Incalculably beneficial. It enhances pupils' self-belief. It encourages and nurtures the basic skills of co-operation, commitment and control. However, the survey stated that specialist Drama teachers should be appointed to teach Educational Drama and the responsibility should not be placed upon English teachers. Whilst I tend to agree with this view, I believe that Drama can, nevertheless, be a powerful instrument for the teaching of narrative texts, poems and plays within English lessons and I mean to employ Drama conventions to aid learning in that respect. 1 Allen, J. (1979) Drama in Schools: Its theory and Practice. London: Heinemann Educational Books. P10. 2 Boas, G. Hayden, H. (1938) School Drama: Its practice and Theory. London: Methuen. 3 Slade, P. (1954) Child Drama. University of London Press. 4 Heathcote, D. (1980) Drama as a context, NATE. Aberdeen University Press. 5 Allen, J. (1979) Drama in Schools: Its Theory and Practice. London: Heinemann Educational Books. P65. 6 Byron, K. (1986) Drama in the English Classroom. London: Methuen. P86. 7 Byron, K. (1986) Drama in the English classroom. London: Methuen. P72. 8 Morgan, N. Saxton, J. (1987) Teaching Drama London: Heinemann. P112. 1 1
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