Historically, drama, and indeed all areas of the arts, have been seen to make an unimportant contribution to society as a whole. As recently as the mid to late 20th century, the arts were seen as a luxury, and a purely leisure exercise or hobby, with only gifted children having access to classically defined art forms such as music or art. This ideology still exists in some form today, although the arts are beginning to be recognised as an integral part of our everyday and working lives. Many drama practitioners and educators consider the arts to be a growing power within the economy, and that drama has benefits to society, culture, and a person’s inner development. These benefits have shaped the incorporation and delivery of drama within Queensland schools. This essay will examine how, by teachers delivering a rich aesthetic experience to students through drama in schools, students are provided with opportunities to develop self identity and equipping them with a skill set that is transferable across a variety of learning areas.
Within the five key learning areas of the arts (music, visual arts, drama, media and dance), drama is a highly valued medium within the educational sphere. Its significant position within Queensland schools is due to the broad skills students develop as they “create, reflect challenge, ritualize, critique and celebrate” (The Arts years 1-10 Syllabus 2002, p1). In Queensland education, schools are encouraged to incorporate all five of the arts key learning areas. Due to a mixture of reasons, such as funding, demand and skilled educators, offering all five are not sustainable. Therefore schools must choose which subjects they can offer well and will most benefit its students. Drama is consistently chosen due to its broad benefits to students. According to the 2007 Senior Syllabus document, Drama should deliver a program which encourages aesthetic learning, incorporates both group and individually managed working, and explores a range of social environments, times and situations (Drama Senior Syllabus 2007, p6).
Drama in particular helps enhance students’ ability to work socially in groups, and through a dynamic aesthetic experience develops their emotional and cognitive processes of their individual self. “Students develop an enhanced understanding of themselves as members of cultures and societies with pasts, presents and futures to which they can contribute” (The Arts years 1-10 Syllabus 2002, p3) The Queensland studies Authority provides teachers with the Queensland Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Framework to help shape their program content. This framework utilizes a system called Essential Learning, which is a set of knowledge, skills and capabilities that students are expected to have attained at various points through their education. These Essential Learnings provide the basis of core curriculum development in every key learning area in Queensland Schools (Clark-Fookes, 2010).