Knowledge and skills in Drama

Welcome to the first part of a series of articles on skills in Drama. In this first article we are going to look what we mean by the words knowledge and skills.

Knowledge is important in education, we’ve spent a lot of energy talking about and debating this issue. But that doesn’t mean that skills are of no importance. A key definition of a knowledge rich curriculum is one where skills and knowledge are equal at the core of its purpose.

What is knowledge?

When we often think of knowledge, what we think of is facts and information. We would assume that knowledge in Drama is knowing Key Terminology. Knowing terms and definitions. We might also assume that learning knowledge would focus on rote learning, memorizing information based on repetition. We make these assumptions because this is part of our past.

But knowledge is much more than this. It is much more than learning and reciting facts and information. This is only the start of knowledge. Knowledge is about having an awareness and understanding of those facts and information. It is about an appreciation of, and familiarity with, both theory concepts and practical processes. The pursuit of knowledge is about becoming knowledgeable. But to become knowledgeable is more than being able to recite facts and figures. To be knowledgeable is to be able to use that knowledge in an intelligent, wise and appropriate way. But the foundation of becoming knowledgeable is gaining knowledge itself.

What are skills?

Put simply, skills are the things that one learns to enable us to perform certain tasks. We have previously thought that skills are generic, applicable to every area of the curriculum. This is not necessarily true and more down to personal aptitude rather than developing generic skills. We may have learners who are tremendously creative in Drama but cannot harness that in English. Or a learner who has mastered being able to write analytical essays in history but cannot apply that same skill in text analysis in Drama.

This is because skills are the facilitator of knowledge. Knowledge is facts, information and understanding of a subject. But skill is the ability to do something with that knowledge. Skills are about the application of knowledge. As such skills are very subject specific and do not transfer well to other areas. This is because skills link to the knowledge that came first. Skills are a type of knowledge. It is the knowledge of being able to express our understanding through performing a task.  Skills are about how well you do something not about whether you can do something or not, but. Skills are the quality of your actions.

The relationship between Skills and Knowledge.

The idea that knowledge is opposite to skills is quite wrong and outdated. The two terms have been incorrectly polarised to suggest that knowledge and learning is outdated and traditional whilst skills and application are progressive and modern. Knowledge and skills are comprehensively interlinked. You need one to get the other.