As those of you who have been reading along will likely remember, my main teachable subject happens to be Drama and as a result I tend to substitute in those classes a fair bit. Now having done a lot of work onstage and backstage, I have a lot of practical experience and I can fully appreciate when stage fright hits you. I suffer from stage fright myself and have had moments where I quite literally have to be shoved onstage at the last second. It’s a hard thing to do, but once you do it the rush from it…it’s unbelievable.
This week I went into a classroom that had a student teacher in it. The regular teacher was away for the day and was expecting him to mark the assignments/presentations for a monologue unit with my help. Now some of the kids got up right away and did their monologue without any hesitation. Some – dithered around and ended up deciding to take a zero rather than get up onstage. Many blamed it on being scared/nervous. Some said it’s because of individuals in the class being rude/making comments. The latter I can appreciate as well – I’ve been in that position and it sucks.
Thing is though – when you sign up for a class like Drama, you know the assignments are going to include getting up onstage. If this is going to be such a source of fear for you, why are you taking the course? Well the fact is a lot of them didn’t want to get up onstage because they knew they weren’t prepared. Sure enough – very few had their work memorized, so of course they were nervous. Drama is a fun class and is definitely “easier” compared to gr.12 calculus for most people – but you still need to do your work. You can’t expect the marks to come if you don’t do the work!
It’s incredibly frustrating to see this in a classroom, where students just refuse to do the work essentially. As I said, I can appreciate that getting up onstage is difficult, but it’s difficult for everyone. The rewards are huge on it too, because it really boosts your confidence when you conquer that fear.
I suppose it’s frustrating to me since it also shows this trend of students just refusing to do work and wanting something for nothing. On top of that, they always want their way. I never would have dreamed of arguing with my teachers this way – and it’s not just in Drama. The upshot of all this with this particular instance was we had various options to try and help the students with their fears – the option of doing it in the dark so no one could see them; having a friend hold onto their script and feed them prompts; etc. What more can we do?
I’ve seen this in other classes too. “Why do we have to do this?” “Because your teacher left it for you and it’s how you’ll learn.” Students want a reward just for doing their work. Your reward is you did the work and learned something. I will not bribe you just to behave either. It’s just silly. I know parents who, when seeing poor marks on report cards, will tell their kids that if they get a certain mark – usually even just an average mark, they’ll get money. MONEY! You know what I got when I brought home top marks? Nothing. It was just expected. You know what happened when I did poorly on the odd test? I got grounded.
It’s maddening really – but I guess it’s the way of the world lately.