I googled the question “Should Drama Classes be compulsory in schools” expecting a big fat yes from the rest of the internet! To me drama builds self-confidence, develops creativity, improves communication skills, develops empathy and encourages teamwork. 5 things that I personally would put on my “strengths list”. (You see, I sound pretty confident in myself, hey?)
Surely the rest of the world can see that these kinds of skills are beneficial to any person, at any time, in any career? I was surprised to find that was not the case… I found a “debate.org” poll that resulted in a “46% No” and a “54% yes” vote. Each vote had to have an explanation, so let’s dive into some discussions had by students, teachers and parents about why drama should or shouldn’t be compulsory in schools.
“I’m going to be sick! Kids should not have to do public speaking because most kids become anxious and scared. I know from experience that it’s not easy to go in front of the class and start to speak, so that’s why I don’t think kids should learn to do public speaking!”https://www.debate.org/opinions/should-drama-and-speaking-be-made-a-compulsory-lesson-in-schools
I agree here! Public speaking can be really tricky, it can cause anxiety and it isn’t everyone’s favourite thing to do, but it’s such a necessary skill in this thing we called “life”! Even us teachers need to be able to public speak because that’s exactly what your doing when your teaching a class of students. See our article on how teaching drama can help teachers grow.
Every day, we are faced with challenges, with people, with conversations to be had and although sometimes it feels easier to run under a rock and hide and not make that phone call, we can’t cower away when faced with a bit of a challenge.
Kelly Clarkson (come on, you know you love her!) once said; “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger!” Every human being has to communicate and hold conversations. Imagine how easy life would be if these conversations weren’t a battle – imagine if we could take the humans who feel sick about conversing and give them the skills to comfortably engage with people… Oh wait we can!
“Drama is hell to some kids. Some kids have social problems so getting them to perform is their worst nightmare. They fear judgement, messing up, being laughed at or worry the other people in the performance will be mad at them for screwing up. I despise drama. I would prefer to do maths, English, science you name it rather than drama.”https://www.debate.org/opinions/should-drama-and-speaking-be-made-a-compulsory-lesson-in-schools
This statement really resonates with me, not because performing is my worst nightmare but because I had this feeling every day in my maths class with Mr Ellwood in High School (shudders at the memory).
The fear of judgement, being wrong, being called dumb or just the fact that everyone else seemed to be able to do math except me. Not everyone is good at everything, we all have strengths and weaknesses and that’s okay (I decided I probably wouldn’t go on to be a mathematician). However, if you’re faced with a weakness and you avoid it, it will remain a weakness, it will remain something that makes you uncomfortable and it will snowball until you’re crying in your maths exam!
No, we don’t have to do that to ourselves! Learning is cool, our brains are amazing and with the right support and the right pace for the individual, with no pressure, we can get to a point where we feel comfortable.
That’s why Marrzipan’s classes are structured the way they are – so the student can lead their own learning, at a speed that works for them. This might be something as small as moving a chair on or off stage – for someone terrified of being “on stage”, this can be celebrated as a massive win for them! And something that can be built upon in future terms – perhaps initially just a sentence as part of a group speaking part, then a single word said alone…and so the building blocks continue.
“It makes you more confident, Creative, Imaginative, Communicative. I think drama should be compulsory because I personally have become much more confident with myself whilst doing drama over the past 4 years. When I started, I hated talking in front of people, Let alone perform but as the years went on I gained more confidence. It also helps/helped me with other subjects such as english and maths as I was able to communicate better with other people in my class and people who I would never usually talk to.”https://www.debate.org/opinions/should-drama-and-speaking-be-made-a-compulsory-lesson-in-schools
Making something compulsory means it needs to suit all kinds of learners all the time, which is tricky to do. It’s all about taking aspects of drama and introducing them slowly, applying them to real-life skills. For example, practicing improvisation helps with everyday conversational techniques and learning voice projection will help with putting up that hand to ask a question in front of everyone in class.
I don’t think we should be getting students to perform 3 hours of Romeo and Juliet to an audience of 500 strangers straight away (even I wouldn’t like that!!) But it is about realising that “drama” isn’t always about extravagant costumes and massive audiences. Drama is using our bodies and voices as a tool that benefits us, no matter what life path we take.
So should drama be compulsory in all schools? I personally think drama should be offered in all schools, so that young learners can opt to do it, when they feel ready to. And when they are, we will be right here in the wings, waiting to hold their hand and guide them on their journey to self-confidence.
Note that Marrzipan offers a no-oligation trial lesson, if your little human wants to “give it a go” to see how our classes take things at their pace, with no pressure to perform until they are ready. If you are interested, book a drama class at your school or contact us for other options or questions!