Many teachers in schools these days are not trained for the specialty subjects they are suddenly faced with teaching. Also, there are many professionals from the world of the Performing Arts who are often forced to make extra money by teaching, but have no experience with this as a career. Furthermore, many university students are hired for summer camp counselors, or evening community center leaders where Drama is part of the program, but are floundering with the basic concepts of where to start and proceed with this subject.
Because Drama is an active subject, much like the teaching of Physical Education, it is therefore much more difficult to teach, as not just knowledge of the subject matter is critical, but captivating and motivating students who are less inspired so that their peers will not be brought down by their attitudes or actions, and, in general, just keeping basic CONTROL over the group is imperative as well.
Teaching Drama or Theatre Arts is RARELY about putting on a play. There are components and specific skills that must be first taught, such as the use of movement, of voice, and how to enhance a character, or how to improvise. Exploring the world of make-believe can also involve delving deeper into one’s own creative resources, and thus finding deeper meanings behind feelings and emotions. It is not unheard of for leaders and teachers of this subject to become therapists or counselors when a particular memory is triggered in a student. Having students almost always working in groups can also be problematic, as there are personalities to consider, injured feelings to soothe, etc.
With young people, of course, the emotions and raw creative genius run in an excitable pattern which, while often working well in active PRACTICAL lessons, will become mired down in THEORY lessons. Thus, it is usual to always keep children and teens physically busy and mindfully challenged. Extra exercises that may involve some form of presentation, such as puppetry, scene work, clowning or music can also be taught as a point at which they may become more serious about their input and participation (“Mom’s coming to see me do this tonight!”) OR as a very real introduction to the challenge of performing in front of strangers.
Any exercises suggested may also lead to other imaginary situations for furthering the development of a student’s creative skill. Scenarios that imitate real life will find the students searching for personal reflection and resolutions in instances they are experiencing simultaneously to taking Drama classes, and this can lead the teacher or leader of the group to observe many rewarding transformations or at least cathartic epiphanies.
Because the word “drama” comes from the ancient Greek “to do” (or “to act”) it is imperative that teaching Drama to young people be full of activities and thought-provoking experiences presented through movements and gestures. Teaching theater CAN be about the History of Theater – a fascinating subject in itself which could take years of study!- Set Design, Costume Design, Lighting, Make-Up, Stage Management, and Directing and Producing, but these topics are better left for college or university levels, and when teaching under 18’s, the individual studies are better left broken down into components that keep them active and involved with others and with some introspection of their individual personalities.
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