Dorothy Heathcote had her critics too

12th September 2014

I’ve been digging around in the Heathcote archive for the last few days researching the origins of mantle of the expert for a Chapter in a book.

Finding a definitive date for when Dorothy first used the term has been frustrating. The earliest dated document mentioning ‘mantle of the expert’ is an article written by Heathcote for the Secondary School Theatre Journal, in 1975.

However, Sandra Heston proposes 1972 in her PhD thesis. As evidence she sites a paper which she says was authored by Heathcote in that year [See Appendix 10, p. 216). However, when I searched for the document itself in the archive it turned out to be neither dated nor attributed. Which is strange.

Not to worry, I’m sure there is a perfectly valid explanation. Sandra was a close friend of Dorothy’s and it is likely Dorothy recognised the document and gave Heston the date. I’ll write to her and ask. Mystery solved.

Well, not quite. The original is really quite odd [Ref. AC115].

 

As you can see it is type-written in a style that is easily recognisable as Heathcote’s. The mystery is in the hand-written notes, whose are these? And why did Dorothy keep them in her possession? They are hardly complimentary:

Mantle of the Expert – “Does this mean the teacher?”

…a commitment from the children to learn the information and the skills they will need. – “It would never work with Class 3!!!”

A discipline for the class which provides a framework in which attitudes are contained without the teacher imposing rules and demands. – “Tell that to Mr. Wilson!”

Children employ what they already know and no information will be fed to them first. – “Class 3 didn’t seem to know much anyway”

…teachers can diagnose what children know already. – “Nothing!”

Apparently the other person, whoever they are, was not a fan. Dorothy had some stern critics in her time.

As it turns out, I later found the same information elsewhere in the archive, but this time without the handwritten notes [ref. AI042].

 

It would seem Dorothy was unperturbed by her detractor and carried on regardless. She was a dauntless woman, unafraid to take on the knockers… a lesson worth remembering for us all.

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