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Curricular Inadequacies

Discussion in 'Education and Career Development' started by bobgaggle, Feb 7, 2008.

  1. bobgaggle

    bobgaggle Well-Known Member

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    I've noticed this phenomenon over my 4 years of high school drama, and wanted to see what some other high schoolers thought of it...

    I've found that a drama class is truly a pointless thing. The wonderful thing about this type of class is its name..."Drama"...this word, in my mind, implies a class that will explore the innumerable facets of modern day theatre (and perhaps some theatre history as well) What happens though, is that "Drama" has become synonymous with "Acting". My 4 years have consisted of nothing substantial but Improv games, Characterization, and Meditation/inner peace sessions.

    I think part of this is is due to the teacher. I have had 3 different drama teachers in high school and all of them have different experiences in theatre. One teacher was an actor/director turned magician, the current one used to do makeup for touring rock bands and stage shows. The other didn't really do much except cry during our class (long story, but in the end we got her fired). All of these people have their strengths, but those strong points are focused in one area. I can't recall one time in those classes that I heard the words, "today, we're going to learn about DMX." I had to learn it all myself through trial and error. Everything I know about theatre (technical) is from past experience, Wikipedia, my dad, and Control Booth (you guys have been a great help).

    Another problem is our curriculum. I recently discovered that essentially, the only thing students in drama 4 have to do is present a piece of their own direction, usually a self-written one-act. There is no requirement for the lowe classes to learn anything about technical theatre, only about theatre history and acting.

    I'm posting this because I want to see if this is a wide spread occurance. I know that some schools have a "tech theatre" class, which I think is amazing. But I really think its a big waste to hide a whole other face of the theatre world (tech) from young students who are still exploring what they like and what they would eventually like to do in the future
     
  2. meghan

    meghan Member

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    My school has both but they both kinda suck. Our director is both the acting teacher and tech teacher. My tech classes you don't learn anything in unless your on the stagecrew then you learn a little bit but not enough to really know what your doing. Its mostly if you want to be on crew you have to learn everything on your own. Also it doesn't help to have a sexist tech teacher who doesn't let girls touch powertools which pretty much sucks.
     
  3. punktech

    punktech Active Member

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    get used to sexism hun...while it's slowly leaving the industry, some old battle axes, and some younger guys that trained under said battle axes still think that a chick can't lift things heavier than 5 pounds, build a set, or hang lights without at least heavy supervision...i worked for one of the younger types...
     
  4. What Rigger?

    What Rigger? I'm so fly....I Neverland.

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    I swear to God, kidz. It gets better once you get done with high school. Don't EVEN get me started on that whole idea of "these are the 4 best years of your life." Really??? I peaked back THEN? When I was a complete $hit-head??? C'mon!

    There seem to be [email protected] few ACTUAL acting teachers or tech teachers in American schools nowadays. Why? 'Cause "drama" isn't taken seriously for any number of reasons, and whatever hippie-burnout Liberal Arts degree holding know-nothing of a teacher usually winds up taking the class on for no other reason than they can't have TWO 'prep periods'.

    You have my sympathy, and here endeth my rant, lest I go on for days.

    IT DOES GET BETTER!
     
  5. superdoo

    superdoo Member

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    My High School had both acting and "stage craft".

    And I've got to say although every acting class I have ever taken has been for the most part a waist of precious time and $$$$, the tech class at my HS is what got me started in this industry.
    This is because we had a teacher (who ran the theatre, which was a really nice theatre) that made us commit 20 hours of work in the theatre helping. For me I met a lot of my best friends and learned a lot.

    I think acting classes for the most part are going to be a waist (especially in HS) because it's an art credit that everyone knows is going to be easy, not to mention that (as stated above this post) you generally have a teacher that is far from qualified. But that's because the school doesn't have any professional or pseudo professional theatre folks that are also qualified to teach core classes. And we professionals who work in the industry and are qualified to teach that class do not hold teaching degrees.

    By using CB you already demonstrated a solid interest so I recommend (if you're not happy with your HS) that you do what the rest of did to learn and move up... Go to a community theatre or other companies and work/ learn through then. This way you get what you want and also start building a resume that's rid of HS shows, not to mention networking for future experiences.

    Best regards.

    IT WILL GET BETTER!
     
  6. Chris15

    Chris15 CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    First off a correction to homonym use... In the above context, my waist has very little to do with time, but there aforementioned classes may be a waste of time...

    I think the secondary sector needs to take a leaf out of the books of tertiary education institutions. Staff need to keep up with the nature of the industry whose content they are teaching. Practising professionals are good sorts of people to be teaching classes. Or if you don't have the staff with relevant expertise, have the subject taught by an external person. Perhaps in the context of high schools, the answer is to have a teacher there as well, to control the class while leaving the professional to actually pass on knowledge...
     
  7. len

    len Well-Known Member

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    Consider yourselves lucky to have a class at all. The closest I had in high school was a speech class taught by one of the directors. And we had a really nice theater. Large stage, 15 - 20 pipes, a decent booth with two carbon arc spotlights, a decent orchestra pit, lots of dressing rooms, etc.
     
  8. Logos

    Logos Well-Known Member

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    Of course both the US and Australia have the same problem with relation to teachers in the secondary stream. They have to have teacher registration of some kind to teach core or curriculum subjects. Very few seasoned theatre professionals have the necessary qualifications to obtain the sort of registration I am talking about. Gafftaper you are an honorable exception to that rule and I expect there are more. In Australia I can teach in Tertiary Institutes but Gawd help any High School that even thought about employing me.
    Essentially you end up with qualified teachers with some theatrical knowledge, rather than theatrical people who have training as teachers. Some of these people will be brilliant some won't. I am reminded of when I went to High School and was taught Ancient History and Classical Studies by a Phys Ed teacher. He was a great Phys Ed teacher and took our Basketball team to the state finals but he barely kept one class ahead of us in Ancient History. It's all about funding and Drama is getting less and less important as we go.
    Oh and don't get me started on Impro games as teaching drama, that's a whole other rant.
     
  9. CynicWhisper

    CynicWhisper Member

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    It's the same at my school. Although I have avoided taking any more "acting classes" than is entirely necessary, they're all just the improv games and monologoes. As for actual stagecraft, well, it's earned the nickname of Sweeping 101. It's a mix of listening to the teacher tell his stories of when he was a real actor, one or two actual days of learning what a flat is per semester and sweeping. Truthfully, at my high school, the theatre program has very little to do with the classes offered during the day. I've learned everything from actual experience working on the mainstage shows after school.

    But I think the common denominator here is that since so many schools are so budget tight, we're lucky enough to have a theatre teacher, but a separate tech teacher is out of the question. So although my teacher has decades of acting experience, he couldn't tell the difference between dmx and xlr if his life depended on it. But we're lucky in that we have a really nice theatre and he generally trusts the techs enough to give us the keys, a general idea of what needs to be done and the freedom to do it. From talking to alumni techs, they say that when they got to college, they were infinitely better prepared than most of the other tech majors just because we had to learn to do it all ourselves. So even though I'm positive that there are definitely things we do vastly incorrectly and we've definitely tried very stupid things before, I'm pretty sure that we end up pretty well prepared. In fact, I was surprised when I went out to work into a professional theatre how useful those improvising skills were. It will be nice to get to college and actually learn the proper ways to do things, but I have a feeling that those basic techie skills of trial and error and ingenuity are infinitely more valuable. So have hope.

    By the way, shout out to my fellow tech girls. Just look forward to those precious moments when a new cocky guy walks in thinking he knows everything until he finds out that some pretty girl is his boss and you can see his little ego shatter on sight. Stay strong, girls =)
     
  10. ReiRei

    ReiRei Active Member

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    I must say that, like len, the only class that I ever associated myself with that was close to acting was a speech and debate class my freshman year. Lots of improv and interpretation... my debates like to go off on tangents that could sooner or later cause the other participants to cry... seriously.
    The tech class at my school is taught by the drama teacher (producer) who I'm not sure can teach a drama class. It really isn't my place to say as I've never taken a drama class with her. However, I will say that she's not too knowledgeable when it comes to the technical aspects of theatre. Probably wouldn't know a S4 from a Fresnel really. She likes to hit our SM Panel and turn the lights to all full too, quickly killing my soul and the new gels in all of our lights... woo...
    However, we also have our own Carpenter and separate TD who both rock the theatre thoroughly and make up for our dear producers shortcomings.
    And about the whole sexism thing, umm... show them that you can do it and that you're not going to sit back and be treated like a five-year-old who needs her hand held at all times. When I came into my theatre I encountered the rare sexist and told him to shove it up his nose. And if you do the aforementioned and you're still being treated like that, challenge the man to a duel. The theatre is a great place for this because most technicians, or at least the ones that I know, carry gloves with them at all times. However, when he slaps you with his glove, pull out a steel gauntlet and just BAM! Yes, just like that.
    And yes, those are precious moments to look forward to indeed.
     
  11. bobgaggle

    bobgaggle Well-Known Member

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    I never understood the sexism, if women can do the job to the same or better standards than men, what's the problem. If they're sub par, I'd deal with them the same way I'd deal with a guy who was shirking. Makes no difference.
     
  12. superdoo

    superdoo Member

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    I 100% agree! And I also have a new appreciation for my high school's program.

    I still highly recommend seeking knowledge elsewhere (if you're not happy) here in MN there are countless options for volunteering and paid positions as well.
     

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