So many Drama Teachers are also English Teachers and the cross over in terms of subject knowledge is obvious. The teaching of English can gain so much from having a Drama teacher on board. There is a obvious cross over in terms of approaching understanding, deconstructing and exploring plays – but those same questions can be asked of literature as well. I’ve had so many conversations with my students about the motivations of George and Lennie in Of Mice And Men only to then to go into the Drama Studio and have the same conversations about Mickey and Eddie in Blood Brothers. On a broader scale, a Drama teacher may approach topics in a more creative way, not being afraid to get students standing up, moving around and engaging with the material in a different way.
However, it is worth considering what being an English teacher can bring to the subject of Drama.
When I started teaching nearly 20 years ago the written element was considered an annoying tag on to the practical work. Something that was a distraction from the real work of the subject, which as performing. Many of my older colleagues I encountered and mentored me had been teaching in the late 1980’/1990’s and saw the written element as an intrusion on the practical work. My own experience of GCSE Drama was a rushed piece of evaluation that was thrust upon me to do because it was a requirement of the course that I write something. I had no idea what to write or understanding why I should write down things that I felt needed improving. I was in no way prepared for it.
How things have changed in 20 years?
I whole heartedly support written work in Drama. It is vital to the process of understanding what the student has done and the student is trying to do. The process of being able to reflect properly on their practical work, with the appropriate terminology, and emphasis on how rehearsal strategies impact improvement, how skills are implemented to communicate aims and the success of these in communicating to an audience is good practice to help students improve.
And yes, being an English Teacher as well helps to improve this as you also have the skills to be able to help students write better, more accurately and more concisely, to structure sentences to cover both description and context of actions and to be able to confidently expand students use of adjectives and adverbs to describe acting to make it very clear to the reader wha they did. It helps wit spelling, punctuation and grammar.
So embrace your inner English Teacher and enjoy the written element of the new Drama GCSE.
If you’re still struggling, why not book to attend the CPD called Encouraging Words run by National Drama on June 3rd in Bath all about approaching the written work in Drama.