Every year, 8th graders participate in a musical, the 8th Grade Musical. Of course, that isn’t the title to every musical the 8th grade has, its different every time. Everybody has to play a part in the musical ranging from leading parts to singing in the chorus and lighting the stage. For the musical, students get to make the costumes under teacher supervision, and they work with the teachers to plan the lighting and some dance moves while the teachers make larger decisions and actions like making the script, choosing most of the dance moves, picking times to rehearse, and establishing order. It seems to most 8th graders that there isn’t much freedom for the 8th graders, nor any variation in the type of play the teachers are making. So, this brings up the question, should there be change, or should it stay the same?
To answer this question, a vote was sent out to all 8th graders asking their opinion on the matter. In the survey, there were 3 questions. The first asked the headline question, Should the 8th-grade musical be mostly directed by the students. The options to choose were Yes, No, Kind of, and No opinion. After answering that question, they would need to explain why they answered that way. Out of 47 students that answered the survey, the majority said Yes to changes in the musical. In the responses, there was a clear movement towards allowing students to help create the musical alongside the teachers. Some students criticized the plot to be, “non-existent” and the musical in general is, “uncreative and (a bit) boring”. ” These are some quotes from the students on the matter: (All of them were anonymous)
“We should get more authority and our opinions on decisions. We should choose the musical and compose the lines and make the play ourselves.”
“I feel if the kids could help write it, it would be much better. We should have some input, but too much control could ruin the musical. Having guidance from a teacher is quite helpful.”
“The Students should be able to direct themselves, but under the supervision of the teachers.”
“I think it should only be partly run by students because students can’t run the whole musical. There are too many people involved for an eighth grader to handle and planning and directing a musical requires an effort that not all students can muster. That being said, students should have a big role in directing the musical because it is should be something that the students feel proud of and enjoy.”
“No, because most of us don’t have much experience and it will be better if it’s run by adults who have done this kind of thing.”
“I think that if it was directed by kids, the musical would get very unorganized. We wouldn’t be able to get anything done and there would be a lot of arguing and less focus.”
Most students in the survey did state that they should be under the supervision of the teachers, but also having more authority and decisions in the musical. Some students said that 8th graders directing the musical would get too chaotic and too out-of-check. The bottom line is that the students participating in the 8th-grade musical want more freedom, authority, and more decisive decisions. By allowing them to do this, it would make the students less bored and exceedingly more motivated. One of the ways teachers could do this is just by giving students more say in the theme, plot, script, choreography, set design in the play, and directing of the play. That could simply be accomplished by a vote or email sent to every student. Teachers could assemble some students to help pick possible themes and they would have a vote with the grade. Though the themes must be easy to follow along with and understandable for younger audiences. The changes in decisions and authority don’t have to be massive, they just have to be enough to make the students comfortable and more enthusiastic. If no one wants to be too committed or have a large job in the play, then the teachers can do it the same they have done before. This doesn’t have to happen every year. It would just be nice to try it and see what works and what doesn’t. If it doesn’t work out, then the teachers could go back to the old way.