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Dramatic learning:a case study of theatre for development and environmental education

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  • Lb1501 Primary Education
  • Ecology
  • Education
  • Geography


The aim of my research was to introduce drama, in the form of theatre for development processes, to local Grahamstown Primary School teachers, and to work closely with one teacher to explore theatre for development in the classroom, as a means of introducing both environmental education and learner-centred, constructivist teaching methodologies. I started my research by interviewing Primary School principals as well as sending out questionnaires to teachers,to survey their understanding and practice of drama and environmental education in the school curriculum and to invite them to participate in the research project. In collaboration with Educational Drama and Theatre students, I developed two workshops to introduce theatre for development processes such as image theatre and role-play to the teachers. Nine teachers attended this workshop which was video-taped. After the workshop I gave two lessons at a local school, in partnership with a teacher. Throughout this process I kept a research journal. All action components of the research were followed up with individual interviews, group discussions and a focus group. Although the study gave rise to multiple themes, I chose to highlight two: Firstly, Curriculum 2005 advocates a move towards more learner-centred,constructivist and process-orientated pedagogies. All of the participants in this study, including myself, had intentions of adopting a new approach tq education and teaching but found that we often reverted back to earlier learnt roles of product-orientated, text-based, authoritarian approaches to education which we originally had rejected. Secondly, I reflect on how we set out viewing environmental education, education, drama and research as a process and yet all the participants, including myself, continually tried to 'put on' the perfect performance in the form of a drama, a learning experience and research. This project was a participatory research project. The textwork of the research reflects a post-structural orientation. It has been written in the form of a drama to represent the many voices of the participants, but also to question the role of research in society and make research more accessible to non-academic readers. I also intend to perform the research process at a later stage.

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