I have taught drama and lectured in presentation skills and communication at the following educational establishments:
The Anna Scher School, Islington
The King’s School, Canterbury
Herne Bay High School
Sandwich Technology School
Canterbury Christ Church University
Thames Valley University
I’m often asked to justify my passion for bringing Drama and Music into secondary schools, particularly when I’m targeting those who aren’t engaging with education and whose grades are on the floor, because involving them in Drama is seen as an unnecessary distraction and a waste of time.
Most students (often boys) who resist the academic structure are bored, and they’re usually bored because they’re bright but don’t have the discipline to endure the boredom, and very often can’t see the relevance of what they’re learning to their own world. They have also never been taught to listen; if you spend most of your young life being shouted at or ignored by adults at home, then where are those communication skills going to come from? Add to that neglect, poor diet, and very often sheer disinterest from those in the parenting role, and what are you left with? A child who doesn’t know how to make themselves heard without shouting, swearing or being physical, who sees the mouths of adults moving but is conditioned to tune out whatever they’re saying, and who has absolutely no ability to connect with his/her environment in a positive and productive way.
Drama teaches you to listen, it teaches you to express yourself, and perhaps most important of all it teaches you to be curious, both about yourself and about the world around you.
In my role as creative adviser, I go into a school, observe those taking Drama as a subject and identify the ones with that certain ‘spark’. I then put together a project which I know will be attractive because it’s cool, or edgy, or both, and I’ll also scout about for those students who are drifting on the perimeter of school life, observing but not participating, and I’ll find a way to engage their interest. I always target the alpha males, the most disruptive, the naughtiest, because they will bring the kudos with them, and where they go, others will follow.
Time and again I have succeeded in engaging boys deemed by their school to be unteachable, and it’s no exaggeration to say that through the skills they learned through Drama, and the subsequent life choices they have made, a number have avoided prison. Through the work they were doing, and the influences they were exposed to, they saw an alternative route through life.