Key resources 2 - Drama and Writing
Drama related assumptions about writing fiction and non-fiction
An HMI survey found that boys’ attitudes and performance, particularly in writing, are often more sharply affected than those of girls by mediocre teaching and assessment. Boys are less inclined than girls to respond positively to and learn well in indifferent lessons. Many need to see clear purpose in activities and to know that someone is scrutinising their work actively and rigorously. The survey identified approaches such as role play and other oral work as often helping boys to focus and motivating them to write.
(HMI Annual Report 2003)
Drama work help pupils to translate lived experiences into a variety of written fictional and non-fictional representations. Written outcomes also provide a permanent and visible record of a student’s progress and learning in drama. Writing may also help pupils to reflect and deepen their response to drama they have made or watched. The drama itself may provide a logic and purpose for writing in genres that students might otherwise find tedious - reports, arguments, letters.
Some drama-related assumptions about writing:
- Writing emerges out of the human need to communicate in a variety of forms from the vernacular – messages, diaries, notes, letters, descriptions – through the pragmatic – requests, reports, non-fictional genres – to the poetic – poetry, novels, autobiographies etc
- The need to write is often born in the heat of significant human experiences
- Writing is the most valued and socially powerful form of communication in our Western society
- There is a hierarchy of genres of writing in which certain non-fictional genres have more social power than others
- We write for real purposes, with real intentions in the hope that our writing will have real consequences for ourselves and others
- We often write out of the need to share our own unique experiences in ways that can be understood and felt by others.
- Writing is always ‘performative’ – there is an intentional and knowing presentation of ‘self’ (voice, register, tone) and representation of the ‘other’ (audience, imagined responses)
- Writing is always produced and received in a cultural space of struggles, traditions, class, gender, ethnic relations
In order to be effective, students’ writing in schools needs to be:
- Authentic i.e. with a purpose and intention
- Based in significant experiences
- Technically accurate in terms of appropriate genres, syntax and other conventions
- Based on a knowledge of cultural contexts and spaces of production and reception
- Broadly cultural rather than narrowly technical; it should relate to real world intentions, purposes and audiences.