Theatre provides immediate, college, lifetime benefits

Letter to the Editor,

First, I would like to say thank you for including so much arts coverage in the newspaper–both of Wootton artists and larger cultural events. However, I am writing to you now because March is Theatre in Our Schools Month and I want your help getting the word out about the value of theatre class and the arts as a whole.

While the state of Maryland only requires one credit in the arts of any kind to graduate (and any theatre class fulfills that requirement), college admissions officers say that they are looking for students who develop their passions and have a more well-rounded education. Even the College Board shares on their website that “research indicates that students who participate in the arts often do better in school and on standardized tests [as they] help you recognize patterns, learn to notice differences and similarities, and exercise your mind in unique ways.”

Beyond the specific benefits for admission to college, theatre benefits you throughout your life. In a scientific experiment examining flexibility and fluency in thinking, those students who had been placed in the group randomly assigned to take a drama course, performed significantly better at the end of the course in this kind of creative thinking than students who were assigned to the control group. Additionally, in a study of the relationship between various arts forms and cognition, “acting confers a generally enhanced skill to extract the gist from verbal material, a skill that is transferable to other verbal cognitive tasks.”

In addition to these scientific studies, I was at Starbucks recently wearing a Wootton Drama sweatshirt. A man who appeared to be in his 60s approached me and shared with me that he had done “dramatics” when he was in high school and it helped him make a lot of money in his life. He explained that he started in sales and that once his boss explained to him that following the sales pitch guidelines was like acting, he instantly recalled what he’d learned in high school theatre class and applied what he learned to become a top salesman. Whether or not you pursue a career in sales, most of you will need to make presentations in your chosen career and what we practice in theatre class will have a life-long benefit, as this man’s experience shows.

But perhaps the most valuable part of taking theatre class during your school day is the experience of it right now. A current freshman shares that taking the class, “it is like a break from mind-draining work and gives kids a chance to get creative,” while several others noted that “theatre matters to us a lot because it helps us build valuable relationships.”

So the next time everyone is thinking about taking one more AP class, maybe your readers will consider taking a theatre class instead since it can benefit them for college, help them throughout their lives and be something you look forward to participating in every day.

Jessica Speck, theatre teacher and drama director