For the past few years, Drama PGCE students at Birmingham City University have been working for a day with Big Brum, using their current TIE programme as a starting point for exploring professional questions about inclusion, transition and diversity.
Central to this has been a text from the SCYPT Journal (ICTIE Conference, Amman, Jordan, August 2000), which considers all children as a displaced people – and how actor teachers and drama educators can respond to this.
The following is extracted from that text. We offer it as a stimulus to your thinking and practice, and invite your reflections and comments.
Tuning the Ear to the Displaced Child
If the fictional world is a rich one and accurately reflects the complexity of the individual, social, political and economic relationships we negotiate in our daily lives then it follows that:
The actor teacher, in signing response, questioning and discussion in the course of the exploration for meaning, has to listen from the standpoint of complete immersion in the complexity of those relationships.
In signing response, questioning and discussion with the children, listen from the standpoint of owning a pre-determined meaning. If the actor teacher has pre-determined the meaning, then the complexity of relationships between phenomena will be reduced and the child’s exploration will become formal and arid.
If the meaning of the exploration is pre-determined then the actor teachers will simply facilitate a structure and fail to facilitate the actual process of learning that is potential.
The actor teacher then must be sensuously brim-full of the social, economic, political, individual-psychological environment of the fictional world. For now, in historical terms and in terms of future development. To be truly attuned, then, the actor teacher needs to know / must strive to know themselves as natural, historical, social and creative beings; be unsceptical that this is also true for the child, confident that in listening to the child the question / concerns emerging out of the practice of the drama will become apparent. Listening with every sense at two levels:
- What is being observed, commented upon, challenged at the particular level?
- What does this reveal, as an avenue for interconnecting the web of meaning available within the fictional representation of our human cultural reality.
This identifying, resonating, reflecting back, developing, connecting of the sense perceptions of the children is the process of accumulating meaning. Determining now, newly, in this moment, the new knowledge that is coming into being.
In formal education in British schools today children are in a very real sense a displaced people. Through the curriculum and the increasing privatisation of education, they are denied access to their historical sense of self and community in the most aggressive manner. The process of education is no longer recognised as the art of living freely in the world as social historical beings.
In TIE, making the world tangible for considered exploration, reflection and abstraction; with the actor teacher listening for the interconnectedness of the particular to the general conditions informing the event, we can replace children in a powerfull sense of self, social and historical continuity.