In my GCSE years, I was encouraged by my parents to study Drama. At first I wasn’t too happy with this suggestion. However after a while I started to enjoy the course. The enjoyment didn’t just come from the opportunity to act and see a lot of theatre productions, but the self-confidence that developed through this course of learning also.
However, there was one thing I could not stand and really threatened my ability to achieve the grade I wanted at a GCSE – the essay. In the exam we would be required to write an essay on some aspect of a dramatic performance, whether it be use of props, lighting, style of performance or any number of things. It wasn’t that I disliked writing essays (there was plenty of practice for that in other subjects too, if I disliked writing exams, GCSEs and A-Levels would be 4 long years). However, with other essays I knew what was being looked for, they made sense to me. With the Drama essays I could never get more than 28/50 – no matter how hard I tried. Even then it’d regularly be between 16-22/50. The reason? Not necessarily a lack of understanding. I just didn’t know how to jump through the hoops the Drama Board wanted to see. To this day I don’t know why I didn’t search out advice from my Drama teacher – maybe because I was a 14-16 year old young man who didn’t realise he could ask for such guidance. Overall I received a B, mainly down to my performance in Year 11 apparently.
This experience highlights to me to problem with some assessments. I think this is one reason I prefer engaging in Maths assessments than other written ones. You know what’s being looked for, there is a right or wrong answer. I don’t even mind other written assessments as long as I know the criteria. My University result will be based on a number of written assignments, but every time I had the grading criteria so I could show my understanding in the way that was standardised. In the Drama experience, while there was some discussion around good things to do in an essay but no clear guidance on what would get us the top marks.
In the fantastic call that I had been offered a permanent full-time job starting September, the possibility was mentioned that I might be teaching Year 6. I stated that I would be up for the challenge, which I honestly think I would be. It’s experiences like the Drama one that will hopefully help me remember that, whilst I need to make the learning enjoyable and memorable, I also will need to equip the children with the tools to do their best in the KS2 SATs. Whilst it could be debated whether this is for them, myself or the school, it will be an important task afforded to me if I am placed in the Year 6 class. Whilst I may not agree it should be the objective of a child’s learning, to do well in a test, it is a necessary one.
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