Key questions about Drama: building an agenda

From Network / MTL Session 2, 7th December 2017

This meeting developed people’s research ideas and began to explore their relationship to the key questions (below).

We then heard a little about the ‘Democracy through Drama’ project.

See also Chris’s forthcoming paper: Bolton, C. (2018) “Creating democratic classrooms: crossing local borders to hear young people’s voices”. Drama Research: International Journal of Drama in Education. Vol 8. No 2. To be available from

A. The four key questions
1. What is Drama?
2. What is Drama for?
3. How does Drama work?
4. How can Drama help the child?

B. The idea of Drama as a democratic space.

Research ideas

Ed. Meaning-making and Drama, the subject. What is valuable versus what is measurable. Seeking a balance between exploratory and liver-through Drama and performance. Looking at a framework for testing ideas. A small case study, including teacher in role, a significant object, working with a small group in a controlled environment?

Lee. Year 8 – to what extent does having learning outcomes already written effect or obstruct the process of meaning-making? Processes of engagement and retention? This might be done as a comparison between two classes, where methods are changing.

Orlagh. Some ideas: the value / necessity of written work; observing self as a teacher in lessons; are we dazzled by novelty, not what has gone before? Generalist vs specialist teaching and the place of Drama in the school.

Hattie. Assignment 1. 3 incidents, involving ‘difficult’ Y11 pupils, non-specialist staff, catching up with a Y11 class. Assignment 2. The role of KS3 – what’s the point? Possibly using auto-ethnographic methods, audit of professional practice.

Chris. Creating meaningful Drama using personal resources, combining Drama and real life. Changing identities as a Drama teacher. Modelling a session, trialling and reflecting on the work and analysing it using ‘post-qualitative’ defractive interpretation.

Kristal. Probably Y10, looking at progress OR attainment of African Caribbean boys in Drama, which seems to be particularly beneficial. What does the subject bring (e.g. relationships of trust)? Or is it about the teacher? Group needs and exploring stereotypes.

Stacy. Social skills in Drama – barriers to learning practical subjects – the dynamics involved. Gender and class factors, emotional intelligence etc. The impact of setting / grouping (mixed Y7 sets, ability sets in Y8) – does it mean extra support for ‘lower ability’ students or is it a formula for chaos? Might include observational methods, questionnaires, maybe action research.

Ben. The impact of Big Brum’s work on young people and schools, including the impact on teachers’ professional development. Using mixed methods, but building in an evaluation of the MTL (maybe via focus group and/or questionnaire) which teases out the impact of Big Brum inputs.

Put together, what might this research contribute to our understanding of the key questions?

It raises questions about the purposes of Drama and its relationship to the pastoral side of education. For example, if the purpose of Drama is to explore what it means to be human, then what does this mean for Drama in schools and for pastoral care?

It highlights tensions between creative practice in high quality Drama education and the school system, exam specs etc.

As well as raising questions about the nature and purpose of Drama, it also raises questions about the nature and purpose of education.

As a focus task, would it be useful for us to start imagining an imaginary curriculum (or imaginary GCSE) that really respected Drama’s distinctiveness?

Next session: 4.30pm, Thursday 1st March TBC

2016-17 MTL participants are reminded to upload their research from last year as part of the commitment to disseminate work. This can be the whole thing or a precis /account of the work – and especially any findings from it.

If not sure how to do this, please contact Chris or Ben.


2 thoughts on “Key questions about Drama: building an agenda

  1. PLEASE NOTE. This meeting has been rescheduled due to bad weather and will now take place on 28th March 4.30pm at BCU Perry Barr


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s