By any other name would smell as sweet.”
- Juliet, Act 2, Scene 2.
I love quoting Shakespeare. I am a drama teacher. Actually, let’s go further and say I am ‘just’ a Drama teacher. And as ‘just’ a Drama teacher who else would I quote?
Maybe Julie Dunn. Never heard of her? That’s because she is ‘just’ a Professor in Drama Education and Applied Theatre. In her Keynote Speech at Game Changer 2015 today, Julie said that when she is asked what she does for a living and states that she is Professor in Drama Education and Applied Theatre, the response is underwhelming. “Oh you ‘just’ teach drama...”
Maybe I can refer to Robin Pascoe… no wait… he too is really ‘just’ a Drama teacher. In a panel discussion on ‘What is the New Black in Drama Education?’ Robin mentioned research regarding the term ‘Arts Education’ and highlighted the need to drop the arts and call it all Education. You see by using the term ‘Arts Education’ we are collectively marginalising ourselves. I mean it is ‘just’ the Arts isn’t it?
In an opinion piece, Ellen Leanse (Apple and Google Alumni - You have heard of them right?) argues that the use of the word 'just' needs to change. She says, “I began to notice that “just” wasn’t about being polite: it was a subtle message of subordination, of deference. Sometimes it was self-effacing.” She is right.
And this is where I get to my point. You see last week in a meeting a colleague of mine turned to me and said, “You are ‘just’ the Drama teacher.” Yes, I was angry. However, looking back I am not actually upset at her, I am upset at myself for not saying the following:
I am not ‘just’ a drama teacher.
I am a mother, a daughter, a wife, a friend, a lover of Drama, a director, a theatre goer, a creator, a learner and wait for it…an educator. An educator that helps shape, form, support and challenge the individuals that I meet in my classroom and the playground everyday. I don’t teach drama. I teach humans through drama. I teach life.
And this is where we turn things around - not ‘just’ for Drama teachers, but for all teachers. Maths teachers, Kindergarten teachers, English teachers, Science teachers, Primary teachers, Music teachers, Geography teachers, History teachers, Language teachers, Early-childhood teachers and teachers of teachers.
Imagine an educational system where we were all called 'Educators'. Educators of humans. Educators of life. A system where we all treated each other with the same value regardless of where our specialisation lies. A system where we didn’t feel we needed to apologise for what we were passionate about because it wasn’t valued by administrators or policy makers. A system where we stopped segregating each other, stopped segregating ourselves and worked collaboratively to awaken joy, life and energy in the learners we are responsible for.
So, herein lies the question,
“To be, or not to be..."
Will you be 'just' a teacher?
(Note: After writing this blog I feel like I need to rebrand myself as The Joy-Fueled Educator.... but hey, what's in name?)