Drama class can be a real 'love-it-or-hate-it' experience for students. They tend to either thrive on the attention and relish performance, or else are struck dumb with fear at the thought of performing in front of their peers. For many it is also hard to see the academic value in a subject which, throughout history, has been seen as frivolous entertainment.
The academic value lies in its relationship to literature. The best example is Shakespeare, a man whose work is covered in every English course in the country. However, Shakespeare's work was not written to be read, but to be performed. The opportunity to explore a playwright's work in its original context is a massive aid in the understanding and study of the text.
Then there are the personal skills it can help develop. While drama class can be a traumatic experience for some, it can also help build confidence and presentation skills, both key attributes for succeeding in the workplace. For those who really struggle performing in groups, but could do with developing confidence, a private tutor specialising in speech and drama may be the perfect compromise. Smaller classes and more structured tuition can encourage even the quietest wallflower, while developing a wider knowledge of theatre and poetry.
The opposing view is that drama classes can encourage those who are naturally inclined to exhibitionism, but is of little use in helping develop those skills for those who find it difficult. What is your view on this? Is drama a help or hindrance in encouraging self-confidence in pupils?