Hath not a drama teacher eyes?

August 18, 1995

Peter Cox argues (THES, August 11) "the pursuit of educational drama . . . by enthusiasts has been largely responsible for drama being excluded from the National Curriculum as a subject in its own right".

Perhaps, but music and art each also had their "child-centred, self-creative enthusiasts", the yoghurt carton art movement and the turn out the lights and bang gongs school of music, and they are both in the National Curriculum. Bad luck on drama?

More accurately, when drama moved away from the reading of solemn texts in funny voices, in the hands of skilled teachers, students became involved in the education of the emotions, and gained valuable powers of communication. Performances of stark social realism emerged, containing issues which meant something to the pupils themselves. That sort of thing is OK on Grange Hill -"well it's the telly, innit" - but not in our school.

The school inspectors sided with the school janitors who had long loathed the extra work, noise and untidiness and, in a pincer movement of some subtlety, convinced the wise drafters of the National Curriculum to combine drama as a grace note of English, which stands as a subject in its own right.

And now repeat after me, in a snarling voice: Shylock: What, what, what? ill luck, ill luck? (The Merchant of Venice, Act III, Sc i).

Jonathan Brill Harpenden, Herts

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