This post is written by Lexi Earl.
Many of the schools we visit invite artists, performers, touring companies, and other creative people in to talk to students, demonstrate techniques, run workshops, or perform plays. These types of experiences offer wonderful opportunities for the young people to see what it is like to ‘do’ a particular job in the world, and to get first hand stories of how people end up where they do.
During my visit to Uxbridge High School in Uxbridge, near London, I spoke to some Year 10 Drama students who articulated what these types of opportunities meant for them personally. Uxbridge High works in partnership with Intermission Theatre and the RSC. These companies often visit the school to run workshops or put on performances. Uxbridge also takes students out to see West End theatre shows, local theatre productions, or to visit London galleries and museums.
The students talked about how they benefitted from trips to museums, galleries or theatres.
I think Drama and Performing Arts at this school really opens a lot of doors for us and let’s us go on trips. And with Art as well, they went to the Natural History Museum and they studied that in their curriculum. They do do a lot of trips for us so we can see how this could be us one day.
And you work on it as well. It’s not like you just go to a trip and forget about it a week later. You could still go on about it in a year’s time and do work that would help you in the future.
Lion King was the first official play that most of us saw. Because it was so grand it was really amazing and it showed everyone that Drama is a big thing. And it is valued in society. You see so many people who were coming and watching. It is valued and it is not something that is thrown to the corner. It was something that really inspired us because we could see how [through] doing Drama at school what you can become and the possibilities that can happen.
Then the students explained how something different occurs when an adult other than a teacher tells them about their own life experiences, and explains how they ended up in the creative industries.
When it is from someone who has actually been through it and does it now you get the push where you’re like ‘oh, so I could actually genuinely do that myself’, without having a teacher say it to you.
For me, [it is] their stories. They usually tell us about how they might’ve had a difficult life before, something like that so it gives us hope rather than from your teacher because it is your teacher’s job to give you hope. When you hear it from people who don’t really mean anything to you and they tell you about where they were before and where they are now and how Drama has helped them get through so many things, it does inspire us and it gives us hope and it encourages us to carry on.
The students at Uxbridge highlighted how vital it is for young people to be exposed to others working in the arts and creative industries, and just how much influence these encounters can have on young people in schools.