Reading

  1. Baumfield, V., Hall, E. and Wall, K. (2008) Action Research in the Classroom. SAGE Publications Ltd Available from: http://lib.myilibrary.com?ID=328866&Ref=Athens.

    Bell, J. (2010) Doing Your Research Project: A Guide for First-Time Researchers in Education, Health and Social Science. Open University Press. Available from: http://lib.myilibrary.com?ID=302868&Ref=Athens.

    Cohen, L., Manion, L. and Morrison, K. (2007) Research Methods in Education. Taylor & Francis. Available from: http://lib.myilibrary.com?ID=85853&Ref=Athens.

    Denscombe, M. (2009) Ground Rules for Social Research: Guidelines for good practice. Open University Press. Available from: http://lib.myilibrary.com?ID=333827&Ref=Athens.

    Denscombe, M. (2011) Good Research Guide, The: for small-scale social research projects. Open University Press. Available from: http://lib.myilibrary.com?ID=334359&Ref=Athens.

    Elliott, J. (1991) Action Research For Educational Change. Open University Press. Available from:http://www.myilibrary.com?ID=113236&Ref=Athens.

    Farnsworth, V. and Solomon, Y. (2013) Reframing educational research: Resisting the ‘what works’ agenda. Routledge. Available, from: http://www.myilibrary.com?ID=497065&Ref=Athens.

    Fenwick, T., Edwards, R. and Sawchuk, P. (2011) Emerging Approaches to Educational Research: Tracing the Socio-Material. Routledge. Available from: http://www.myilibrary.com?ID=335370&Ref=Athens.

    Gorard, S. and Taylor, C. (2004) Combining Methods In Educational And Social Research. Open University Press. Available from: http://lib.myilibrary.com?ID=95379&Ref=Athens.

    Hopkins, D. (2008) A Teacher’s Guide to Classroom Research. Berks: OU Press McGraw-Hill. Available from: http://lib.myilibrary.com?ID=195309&Ref=Athens.

    McGrath, J. and Coles, A. (2013) Your Education Research Project Companion. Taylor & Francis. Available from: http://www.myilibrary.com?ID=471846&Ref=Athens.

    McNiff, J. and Whitehead, J. (2009) You and Your Action Research Project, Third Edition. Taylor & Francis. Available from: http://www.myilibrary.com?ID=228363&Ref=Athens.

    McNiff, J. (2012) Action Research for Teachers: A Practical Guide. David Fulton Publishers. Available from: http://www.myilibrary.com?ID=415706&Ref=Athens.

    Muijs, D. (2004) Doing Quantitative Research in Education. SAGE Publications. Available from:http://lib.myilibrary.com?ID=36881&Ref=Athens.

    Oliver, P. (2012) Succeeding with your Literature Review: A Handbook for Students. Open University Press. Available from: http://lib.myilibrary.com?ID=352490&Ref=Athens.

    Rugg, G. and Petre, M. (2006) A Gentle Guide To Research Methods. Open University Press. Available from: http://lib.myilibrary.com?ID=112969&Ref=Athens.

    Scott, D. and Morrison, M. (2005) Key Ideas in Educational Research. Continuum International Publishing Group. Available from: http://www.myilibrary.com?ID=129474&Ref=Athens.

    Yin, Robert K. (2010) Qualitative Research from Start to Finish. Guilford Publications. Available from:http://lib.myilibrary.com?ID=288651&Ref=Athens.

    Baumfield, V., Hall, E. and Wall, K. (2008) Action Research in the Classroom. SAGE Publications Ltd Available from: http://lib.myilibrary.com?ID=328866&Ref=Athens.

    Bell, J. (2010) Doing Your Research Project: A Guide for First-Time Researchers in Education, Health and Social Science. Open University Press. Available from: http://lib.myilibrary.com?ID=302868&Ref=Athens.

    Cohen, L., Manion, L. and Morrison, K. (2007) Research Methods in Education. Taylor & Francis. Available from: http://lib.myilibrary.com?ID=85853&Ref=Athens.

    Denscombe, M. (2009) Ground Rules for Social Research: Guidelines for good practice. Open University Press. Available from: http://lib.myilibrary.com?ID=333827&Ref=Athens.

    Denscombe, M. (2011) Good Research Guide, The: for small-scale social research projects. Open University Press. Available from: http://lib.myilibrary.com?ID=334359&Ref=Athens.

    Elliott, J. (1991) Action Research For Educational Change. Open University Press. Available from:http://www.myilibrary.com?ID=113236&Ref=Athens.

    Farnsworth, V. and Solomon, Y. (2013) Reframing educational research: Resisting the ‘what works’ agenda. Routledge. Available, from: http://www.myilibrary.com?ID=497065&Ref=Athens.

    Fenwick, T., Edwards, R. and Sawchuk, P. (2011) Emerging Approaches to Educational Research: Tracing the Socio-Material. Routledge. Available from: http://www.myilibrary.com?ID=335370&Ref=Athens.

    Gorard, S. and Taylor, C. (2004) Combining Methods In Educational And Social Research. Open University Press. Available from: http://lib.myilibrary.com?ID=95379&Ref=Athens.

    Hopkins, D. (2008) A Teacher’s Guide to Classroom Research. Berks: OU Press McGraw-Hill. Available from: http://lib.myilibrary.com?ID=195309&Ref=Athens.

    McGrath, J. and Coles, A. (2013) Your Education Research Project Companion. Taylor & Francis. Available from: http://www.myilibrary.com?ID=471846&Ref=Athens.

    McNiff, J. and Whitehead, J. (2009) You and Your Action Research Project, Third Edition. Taylor & Francis. Available from: http://www.myilibrary.com?ID=228363&Ref=Athens.

    McNiff, J. (2012) Action Research for Teachers: A Practical Guide. David Fulton Publishers. Available from: http://www.myilibrary.com?ID=415706&Ref=Athens.

    Muijs, D. (2004) Doing Quantitative Research in Education. SAGE Publications. Available from:http://lib.myilibrary.com?ID=36881&Ref=Athens.

    Oliver, P. (2012) Succeeding with your Literature Review: A Handbook for Students. Open University Press. Available from: http://lib.myilibrary.com?ID=352490&Ref=Athens.

    Rugg, G. and Petre, M. (2006) A Gentle Guide To Research Methods. Open University Press. Available from: http://lib.myilibrary.com?ID=112969&Ref=Athens.

    Scott, D. and Morrison, M. (2005) Key Ideas in Educational Research. Continuum International Publishing Group. Available from: http://www.myilibrary.com?ID=129474&Ref=Athens.

    Yin, Robert K. (2010) Qualitative Research from Start to Finish. Guilford Publications. Available from:http://lib.myilibrary.com?ID=288651&Ref=Athens.

  2. Big Brum Theatre in Education Company

         

  • An introduction
  • The power of theatre and drama
  • What is TIE?
  • Vygotsky
  • The ‘crucible paradigm’
  • Further reading

 

An introduction

 

“It is not our intellect or skills that make us human. We are made human by our imagination. Through the imagination we must create a three-fold map of past, present and future. We live on this map. Without it we pass our life lost in an unmapped “no body’s” land.”

– Edward Bond

“A child may absorb all the skills of a closed society and not have the ability to judge or question the values of that society. We may need other ways to open a child’s mind to the deeper questions about society and human existence, not only to challenge the child but to get the child to challenge us and our culture. Perhaps there is something more important than the developing of cognitive skills, perhaps we can help even the youngest child to embark on a search for wisdom, the development of that child’s own values and philosophy of life.”

Teaching Children to Think, Robert Fisher (1990)

Big Brum Theatre-in-Education Company, formed in 1982, seeks to provide the highest quality theatre-in-education programmes for children and young people across all age ranges and abilities, in schools and further education, predominantly in the West Midlands. Occasionally the Company extends its remit nationally to schools, colleges, universities and theatres.

Every year the Company works with over 5,000 young people and since 1982 it has created nearly 90 new theatre-in-education programmes.

As practitioners we proceed from the premise that children are not undeveloped adults but human beings in their own right with specific experiences that go to the heart of being human. Art is a mode of knowing the world in which we live, and the Company uses theatre and drama alongside young people to make meaning of their lives and the world around them. At the core of all our theatre and drama work lies an exploration of what it is to be human, the human imperative for justice, and the need to be at home in the world, which has been the age old subject of drama since the ancient Greeks.  Theatre-in-education programmes are the lifeblood of Big Brum, and the Company is committed to building on them through the on-going development of core partnerships with schools, delivering extended activities into all areas of the curriculum, special projects, INSET and CPD.

Since 1995 Big Brum has developed a remarkable collaboration with Edward Bond, perhaps Britain’s greatest living playwright. Bond has now written ten plays for the Company that have since been performed all over the world.

While the Company is struggling to survive at this time of austerity, and a worryingly reductionist approach to the curriculum (which relegates the role of the arts in education to an ‘add on’), it is also striving to artistically thrive. We can’t do this in isolation of course, who can? However, we are slowly and surely building an artistic and educational community around our TIE work and the collaboration with Edward Bond in schools and beyond. It is a community of dialogue and practice, which offers a constructive alternative to currently dominant but restricted visions about education’s future (for more on this, see Section 7a, plus Appendices A and B).

Big Brum is committed to international partnership and its members have worked with young people, actors, teachers and theatres, universities and other institutions and organisations in over 20 countries. Each year the Company receives visitors from all over the world to see the work in schools with young people. This work includes building partnerships with our sister companies in Hungary and France, and other organisations such as the Qattan Foundation in Ramallah and Porta Studios in Greece. It is something we are very proud of and keen to nurture over the coming years. In November 2012, the Company welcomed 23 international artist educators to share in our Bond@50 celebration at Warwick Arts Centre.  In 2015, we have been hosting further visits, and holding and participating in events to mark 50 Years of TIE in this country.

Pedagogically, the work of the Company seeks to open up new ways of teaching and learning that go beyond the traditional transmission model – requiring the child be fed ‘ready made’ testable knowledge in order to pass tests. It is being made increasingly difficult for teachers in the UK to see the young developing human beings behind the target grade and assessment process. Increasingly restrictive and prescriptive curricula make it very difficult for them to access that young human being: that many still do, is a testament to their commitment to their pupils and to learning.

If one believes that poor performance in the education system is due primarily to failures in the assessment of teachers and students, then creating better instruments for measuring how well students are doing in literacy, numeracy and science makes perfect sense. But the culture of education is rooted in a different and far more serious set of problems. All the measured ‘standards’ in the world will not make our increasingly incoherent society come alive and grow – not alive simply to compete in the world’s markets, but as a society worth living in and living with a better sense of where we are going and with deep convictions about what kind of people we want to be.

In its way, and in an appropriate manner, the present programme is about this problem: what we value in a culture where there is an omnipresent pressure to accept quick fixes and seek unquenchable, short lived gratification.  These questions go to the heart of our economic culture, but also our educational one, and above all inform a felt understanding of what it means to be a young person living in the world of the 2010s.

We have included some analysis of the 2014 National Curriculum and a recent piece on the funding of arts education as appendices to this resource.  See also the commentary at www.bigbrum.org.uk/Resources/athe2014nationalcurriculum3plus1.pdf

The pedagogical principles underlying our work have perhaps been best expressed by Jerome Bruner in his Towards a Theory of Instruction (1966). Bruner identified five educational ideals that our theatre-in-education work aspires to provide for young people:

 

  • To give respect for and confidence in the powers of their own mind.
  • To extend that respect and confidence to their power to think about the human condition, man’s plight, and his social life.
  • To provide a set of workable models that make it simpler to analyse the nature of the social world in which we live and the condition in which man finds himself.
  • To impart a sense of respect for the capacities and humanity of man as a species.
  • To leave the student with a sense of the unfinished business of man’s evolution.

Jerome BrunerTowards a theory of Instruction – Man a course of Study. (Harvard Press 1966)

The power of theatre and drama

We believe that drama is a dynamic and creative means by which to achieve the above:

  • It is an holistic approach to the child that contextualises and grounds learning both socially and historically.
  • In drama our engagement is both intellectual and emotional, making learning cognitive and affective. Drama and theatre cultivates the imagination, utilising our uniquely human capacity to imagine the real and envisage the possible. The former provides safety; the latter, freedom. This dialectic liberates the mind from the tyranny of the present. Drama and theatre is the imagination in action.
  • Drama gives young people their individual and collective voice. There are no right or wrong answers to complex questions to do with how we live our lives/ understand the world. The world is an open, not a closed, question: it does not have a ready made answer. We are not concerned with telling young people what to think but teaching them how to; to engage young minds in learning to learn.
  • Drama puts us on the stage and gives us responsibility for the dilemmas that the characters we meet face. This makes the audience and participants creative, and the decisions they take are an act of ‘self creation’.

 

What is TIE?

Theatre-in-education (TIE) acquired the term because the work has been historically designed for professional theatre artists to take theatre into schools.  TIE is a discrete art form that has evolved over the last 50 years, although in TIE the use of theatre as a tool for learning about the relationship between self and society has its roots in Greek drama which served the polis (citizenry, community) in order to understand itself. In our work there is no message, only meaning-making that tests our individual and social values.

Big Brum employs a permanent team of actor-teachers and we aspire to work with one class at a time wherever possible because a TIE programme is very participative, requiring the highest teacher to student ratio possible – and this distinguishes TIE from any other form of theatre, including young people’s theatre.

The task of TIE is to use theatre to explore the human condition and behaviour in order that it may be integrated into young people’s minds and in doing so, make them be more human by allowing them to know themselves.

“This is the job, the purpose, the domain of the arts in education. And, because such things concern the processes of social and human interaction, the domain, particularly of drama and theatre in education, real understanding is a process of coming to understand: we cannot ‘give’ someone our understanding. Real understanding is felt. Only if the understanding is felt can it be integrated into children’s minds, or anyone’s. Resonance is the starting point of the integration process. The resonance of something engages us powerfully; that is, affectively. But, significantly, it also engages us indirectly with that which it resonates. Resonance is not authoritarian; yet it’s an offer you cannot refuse!         (Gillham, SCYPT Journal 1994).

 

In theatre we do not encounter real life but reality imagined. TIE utilises this to draw young people into the fiction. This projects them into the situation, in this way the fictional context is subject to the child’s control, they can engage with the absolute guts of the situation in safety. The most distinctive feature of TIE however is participation, young people can literally be drawn into the fiction by stepping onto the stage or by taking role. In all of our work the theatre or performance element is a part of a whole programme – there is often work before a performance, in between scenes and episodes and/or after.

The participatory element is sometimes integrated even further into the structure with a much more fluid boundary between the two different modes of audience and active participant, with rehearsed theatre moments shifting seamlessly in and out of spontaneous ‘improvisation’ or lived through interaction in the drama. Participation will sometimes relate to the use of a role and there is an always a central task, a purpose to it for the class. (For example, the play element of a programme which concerns the death of people in a village as a result of contaminated water. The children are in role as investigators for the UN whose task is to produce a report which will bring those responsible for contaminating the water to account, and set up a more accountable and efficient means of water purification).  The task is a way of encoding their learning. Being able to engage in this way enables the participant to bring their whole selves to the TIE programme, it matters to them, and they are not watching it but are in it. But by utilising the safety that fiction provides, as referred to above, the participants are protected into the world of the fiction. The physical manipulation of the TIE programme has all the characteristics of learning in real life.

The plays of Chris Cooper, like those of Edward Bond, also seek to place the whole ‘self’ in the site of the plays. In many ways the process is the same, and demands giving the situations over to the audience/participants. This is achieved by employing dramatic devices to get behind the ideology that constrains and determines both thought and action, and brings us imaginatively into the situation.

To reiterate a point made earlier, as practitioners we proceed from the premise that young people are not undeveloped adults but human beings in their own rights with specific experiences that go to the heart of being human. The implications of this impact on everything we do with young people.

No more so than in terms of how we asses material that is ‘suitable for children’. It is our contention that in educational theatre and drama it is possible to tackle any subject matter with young people, not only those that they consciously see as directly affecting their lives but those that they may not be conscious of but are of critical importance to the future of our society, species, planet. It requires the choice of an appropriate form and the intervention and mediation of the Company to put all young people in their zone of proximal development and engage them in the ‘crucible paradigm’ (see below).

 

Vygotsky

One of the most important influences on the development of all Big Brum’s work is that of psychologist Lev Vygotsky who was a pioneer of developing a theory of child development.

Vygotsky’s insight into child’s play has had an immense impact upon the development of drama and theatre-in-education. He recognised that in play children are dealing principally with the meaning (or concepts) of things.

“In fundamental, everyday situations a child’s behaviour is the opposite of his behaviour in play. In play, action is subordinated to meaning, but in real life, of course, action dominates meaning.” (Vygotsky 1978)

The child creates an imaginary situation to explore a real one and from the point of view of development, creating imaginary situations can be understood as a means of developing abstract thought.

Another significant contribution to TIE methodology is Vygotsky’s concept of the Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD):

“The Zone of Proximal development defines those functions that have not yet matured but are in the process of maturation, functions that will mature tomorrow but are currently in an embryonic state. These functions could be termed the ‘buds’ or ‘flowers’ of development rather than the ‘fruits’ of development. The actual development level characterises mental development retrospectively, while the zone of proximal development characterises mental development prospectively.” (Vygotksy 1978)

 

The implications of this approach for our practice as artist educators are enormous and have had a direct impact on shaping Big Brum’s TIE programmes and workshops. Working in the imagination through drama the child stands a head taller than herself because she is capable of thought and action that is ahead of her actual development,  through the mediation of the actor-teacher and her more capable peers. What a child can do with assistance today she will be able to do on her own tomorrow. In this approach the child is viewed as an active seeker of knowledge; the child and environment interact together enabling cognitive development in a culturally adaptive way; the mind is socially constructed; development occurs as a direct result of contact with the environment; language and thought develop independently, but eventually merge and interact.

Furthermore cultural experience is the most powerful tool for human beings to apprehend reality. Culture provides the scaffolding for understanding and it links concepts. To be truly inclusive, education needs to relate to this wider cultural context. Yet, much of the curriculum is divorced from experience, the most important means by which young people can test their understanding. Educational Theatre and Drama on the other hand is framed by its cultural context, it is culturally mediated, it resonates with our lives and makes use of new experiences to de-code them through the social values and shared habits of thought.  It transforms our perception and understanding by challenging them.

 

The ‘crucible paradigm’ – ‘child as crucible’.

In all our work with young people we strive to use this pedagogical tool. Rather than function as transmitters of knowledge the actor-teachers act as mediator between the child/children and the fiction and the fiction mediates between the child/children and the world of experience. The actor-teachers and the young people co-operate in learning. It is what the great drama practitioner Dorothy Heathcote called the ‘crucible paradigm’ – the ‘child as crucible’, whereby students and teachers/more capable adults and peers stir knowledge around together so that we can create the meaning of the drama for ourselves. This not only transforms the relationship between teacher and student but it transforms the relationship between student and student. The ‘crucible paradigm’ demands that co-learners collaborate in a space where young people are taken seriously by adults and each other.

 

 

 

 

Further reading

We would like to draw your attention to two new books that say a great many pertinent things about TIE and this Company’s ways of working. 

Davis, David with Chris Cooper (2014) Imagining the Real – towards a new theory of drama in education, Trentham Books

Jackson, Anthony and Vine, Chris (eds) (2013) Learning through theatre – the changing face of Theatre in Education (3rd Edition), Routledge

Chapters 2 and 7 are written by Chris Cooper, Big Brum’s Artistic Director, and include examples from the Company’s work, including ‘The Giant’s Embrace’.  Chapter 16 takes Theatr Powys’s 2006 production of “The Giant’s Embrace’ as an example of a Theatre in Education programme that effectively embraces both language development and critical pedagogy.

 

Many other texts that have significantly informed our thinking and our practice, including …

Bond, Edward (1996) Notes on the Imagination – in ‘Coffee’ by Edward Bond, Methuen

Bond, Edward (2000) The Hidden Plot: Notes on Theatre and the State, Methuen

Bolton, Gavin (2010), Gavin Bolton: Essential Writings, ed. David Davis, Trentham Books.

Bolton, Gavin (1998) Acting in Classroom Drama: a critical analysis, Trentham Books

Bruner, Jerome (1966) Towards a Theory of Instruction, Belknapp/Harvard

Bruner, Jerome  (1996) The Culture of Education, Harvard

Bakhurst David & Christine Sypnowich (eds) (1995) The Social Self, Sage Publications

Daniels, Harry (2001) Vygotsky and Pedagogy, RoutledgeFalmer

Davis, David (ed.) (2005) Edward Bond and the Dramatic Child, Trentham Books

Davis, David (2009) Introduction to ‘Saved’ by Edward Bond, Methuen Drama student’s edition

Elliott, Anthony (2008) Concepts of the Self, Polity Press

Fisher, Robert (1990) Teaching Children to Think, STP

Gillham, Geoff (1993) What is TiE?, SCYPT Journal [available through Big Brum]

Hawkes, David (2003) Ideology, Routledge

Johnson, Liz and Cecily O’Neill (eds) (1984) Collected Writings on Education and Drama – Dorothy Heathcote, Hutchison

Vygotsky, Lev S. (1978) Mind in Society – The Development of Higher Psychological Processes, Harvard University Press

 

Websites

 

Big Brum www.bigbrum.org.uk

Bond@50 www.bondat50.org.uk

DICE www.dramanetwork.eu

 

Edward Bond www.edwardbond.org

Inspiring Curiosity – Celebrating 50 years of Theatre in Education www.belgrade.co.uk/take-part/theatre-in-education/

 

 

 

 

Evaluations & case studies

Big Brum have increasing amounts of feedback, testimony and robust evaluation that attest to the efficacy of the Company’s work.  This evidence ranges from individual feedback from academics, teachers and students/pupils, to our 2008-2010 European project, DICE (“Drama Improves Lisbon Key Competences in Education”).

This EU-funded project provides clear evidence of some of the benefits of educational theatre and drama, by testing a variety of personal and educational competences after young people’s exposure to drama stimuli.

Amongst other things, the DICE project demonstrates that involvement in high-quality theatre and drama encourages young people to:

  • feel more confident, in communication and in achieving tasks;
  • be more motivated by school work;
  • become better at problem solving;
  • become more tolerant towards minorities and foreigners;
  • and to become more active citizens, with better-developed civic competences and a more positive outlook on life.

We are more than happy to share examples of feedback and evaluations.  We regularly share extracts using a range of online platforms, including our website, and our Facebook and Twitter feeds.

We include some Secondary case studies in Section 6 and the appendices of this resource. These and two recent Primary case studies are downloadable from our website, as is supporting testimony from our many supporters.

A wealth of material from DICE, including two substantial publications, is available at www.dramanetwork.eu

 

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