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Drama Education: The Role of the Teacher

Drama Education: The Role of the Teacher

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An essay for the 2012 Undergraduate Awards Competition by Cormac McCarthy. Originally submitted for B.Ed. in Education and Psychology at Mary Immaculate College of Limerick, with lecturer Dr. Margaret O' Keeffe in the category of Teacher Education
An essay for the 2012 Undergraduate Awards Competition by Cormac McCarthy. Originally submitted for B.Ed. in Education and Psychology at Mary Immaculate College of Limerick, with lecturer Dr. Margaret O' Keeffe in the category of Teacher Education

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Published by: Undergraduate Awards on Aug 31, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Drama Education: The Role of the Teacher
For many primary school teachers, the notion of facilitating drama lessons in the classroomcan be intimidating. This fear often emerges from a lack of clarity around what is required of the educator during the lesson and what role they should occupy in order to ensure that abeneficial and positive drama experience is established. The role of the drama teacher maynot, however, be limited to one specific role but may actually be an accumulation of amultitude of roles. This echoes the many roles that an individual must occupy throughout
their own lifetime. The aim of this paper is to outline the author’s understanding of the role of the educator during process drama lessons and to clarify the drama teacher’s role
 providing an account of some of the possible roles that they may occupy. The author’s own
personal experiences of drama as a pupil in primary school and as a student teacher were used
to form this understanding of the drama teacher’s role. The roles de
scribed in this paperinclude that of the teacher as a proficient lesson planner, a drama facilitator, a dramatist andfinally, a learner. The teacher as a proficient planner refers to lesson preparation anddecisions regarding appropriate themes and a fictional lens. The teacher as a drama facilitatorfocuses on the communication between an educator and their pupils and how this relationshipcan strengthen the drama experience. The teacher as a dramatist refers to the knowledge basethat an individual has regarding drama conventions and techniques. Finally, the teacher as alearner recognises that the pupil is not the sole learner in the primary school classroom butalso the teacher themselves. In summary, this paper can help teachers who struggle tounderstand their roles as supporters of students during process drama and what actions theyshould take in order to create meaningful and memorable drama experiences.
Keywords: Drama; Primary-level; Roles; Fictional lens; Facilitator
In a pers
on’s lifetime, one individual
must fill a variety of different roles. Just as theidentity of an individual can consist of the roles which they occupy, the role of the primaryschool teacher can be divided into smaller roles. These roles are particularly prominent insubjects such as drama. In the short period of a drama lesson, an effective teacher can revealthemselves to be a proficient lesson planner, drama facilitator, dramatist and learner. Eachrole has a number of characteristics and actions associated with them and all of the rolesinteract during a drama lesson. The student drama teacher must develop the ability toconstantly shift between these roles because each one plays a vital part in creating amemorable, fulfilling and educational drama experience for students.
The teacher as a proficient planner
Each role has a critical part to play in a drama lesson. The amount of time invested ineach role and the lessons learned from experience can determine whether or not a drama
experience becomes “diluted” and struggles to reach it’s full explorative potential.
The pre-planning stage is an essential aspect of drama and it can have a positive or negative effectwhich reverberates throughout the entire experience. In the type of drama used in the primaryschool classroom (known as process drama), the children are at the core of the lesson, leadingand interpreting the drama as a group. The teacher provides a structure or frame through theirchoice of theme and the children use it as a foundation for their exploration. The fictionallens and theme
for a drama lesson can be seen as a “canvas”
and it’s creative development
determined by the children’s interpretations.
The final product of the drama experience canvary from class to class, with different personalities and creative inputs present at each level.The choice of fictional lens
for a drama experience can influence a child’s view of 
drama across their lifetime. From my own personal experience of drama as a child, I often
found it difficult to fully engage with both the subject matter and the experience. I longed toencounter a variety of fictional characters, from an astronaut who had hurdled through thedepths of space at the speed of light to a battle-hardened pirate who had weathered themightiest of seas. Unfortunately, these characters failed to materialise. During drama class,members of my class were often restricted to a role-play with a set script which involvedchildren of a similar age who had encountered problems with bullying or stress. It isimportant to note that these drama lessons succeeded in linking sensitive issues and thepersonal experiences of the students together, but failed to emphasise the personal input of the child and to engage them imaginatively. In the pre-planning stage, the teacher shouldchoose a theme and a fictional lens which balances both the imaginative and the educationalneeds of the child. Children are far more likely to be engaged by a scene where King Arthurseeks advice on how to cope with a medieval bully because it provides an imaginativecontext with an important message which the children can relate to and interpret.The relationship between the dramatic theme and the fictional lens is an importantconsideration in the pre-planning stage. Many teachers are reluctant to explore sensitive oremotional issues (such as bullying, depression or bereavement) because they fear that theyare exposing children at a very early age. It is naive to assume that the primary schoolclassroom is completely detached from the outside world and that it is a socially-incubated
” based solely on pillars of 
numeracy and literacy. Realistically, many young childrenwill have already encountered these sensitive problems before they even enter the classroom.Ignoring and not providing suitable information regarding these issues can lead tomisunderstanding in their future lives, but through the use of a fictional lens, these themescan be approached from a safe imaginative distance. The fictional lens acts as an emotionalshield which prevents the child from having a traumatic drama experience and allows them togain a safe insight into the theme in question.

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