New book on MoE by Viv Aitken

7th May 2021

Real in all the ways that matter: Weaving learning across the curriculum with Mantle of the Expert by  Viv Aitken is now available, published by the New Zealand Council of Educational Research (NZCER). The book draws on a decade of classroom practice, research and professional development in Heathcote’s Mantle of the Expert approach with teachers from all over Aotearoa New Zealand. While firmly embedded in its local context, the book will appeal to readers around the world for the way it offers new imagery to illuminate Heathcote’s work, including the metaphor of ‘weaving’ featured on the cover. Viv explains that...

Layers of text

23rd April 2021

By Tim Taylor This blog is an extract from a soon to be published online course called, 'Using Mantle of the Expert'. One more thing to look at. Earlier on I mentioned ‘Primary Text’, in the context of the ‘givens’ that provide structure and direction to the narrative. This idea comes from game theory and was first introduced to me by Brian Edmiston. Basically, it suggests there are – in role-play games – three layers of text: The Primary Text, which is the layer dictated by the world the game is operating in – the rules of the universe, as...

The Conventions of Dramatic Action: A Guide

10th February 2021

By Tim Taylor The Conventions of Dramatic Action are at the heart of the dramatic dimensions of the Mantle of the Expert approach. Originally compiled by Dorothy Heathcote in her essay, Signs and Portents, this illustrated guide has been written with teachers in mind and contains many practical activities for using the conventions in the classroom.

Tension – making learning exciting

25th August 2020

This blog is an extract from 'A Beginner's Guide to Mantle of the Expert' by Tim Taylor Tension plays an essential role in Mantle of the Expert. It is, in a sense, the fuel that powers the engine of the approach, making the work feel important, exciting, and challenging. It grabs the attention of those involved and pulls them into the fiction. As Norah Morgan and Juliana Saxton observed, “Tension is mental excitement, fundamental to intellectual and emotional engagement, not only as a stimulus but as the bonding agent that sustains involvement in the dramatic task.” From a child’s point...

Adapting Mantle for Online Learning

17th July 2020

Louise Ryan  - Twitter @MissLueez (Louise, along with her Year 4 team at Verita International School, Romania, trialled different ways of implementing MoE on online during emergency online learning due to Covid-19.) Preamble: Over the past five months, our schools have shut down, and we have moved our classrooms online. This has been a huge change and a difficult time for families, students and teachers, as we tried to settle into our new normal and get acquainted with all the technology that was available to help us teach and learn from home. For inquiry educators and learners, this has been...

Sequencing: How to Lesson Plan for Mantle of the Expert

22nd February 2020

By Tim Taylor The purpose of this paper is to give you some guidance on how to plan a sequence of steps which you might use during a session of Mantle of the Expert. It is not a recipe or a prescribed method, but rather a framework which you can use and adapt to meet your own style. Please start by creating a long-term plan using the MoE Planning Flowchart on the website. This will generate the background to the fictional context you are going to use and give you a clear idea of the learning outcomes you hope to...

Four Projections of Role

18th January 2020

Role work in learning with mantle of the expert and learning through drama. By Luke Abbott This article attempts a description of the 4 Projections of ‘role’ - as identified by Dr Dorothy Heathcote and their implications to learning, drama form and theatre form. During my training with Dr Heathcote between 1981-2 as a Masters student on her Drama as Learning programme, it was a time where everyone in the drama-in-the-classroom community used and experimented with the very familiar strategies of ‘teacher in role’ and ‘learner in role’. The OUT OF ROLE bit was left to chance as people were...

On Drama and Theatre in Mantle of the Expert

12th October 2019

A conversation: Luke Abbott and Tim Taylor July 2019 - DRAFT Tim: Over the years I have noticed you have begun to place an increasing emphasis on the different functions of drama and theatre in the development and exploration of Mantle of the Expert. Is this something you have become more aware of as your work has developed or is it something you have always known about? Luke: I remember Gavin Bolton chastising us at a weekend residential in 1983 when he insisted that for teachers using drama in any setting (at that time, mostly secondary) we should understand more...

Notes from RFH October 2019

The following are notes from the Mantle of the Expert Beginner's weekend on October 11th-13th 2019. On Saturday evening we watched Three Looms Waiting and Luke mentioned "The Drama of History" by John Fines. Friday Doctors Protecting people into experience. 1. INTRODUCTION: “With your neighbour would you mind just discussing the greatest skill a doctor has…. The thing you admire… just a little conversation” - INQUIRY 2. STEPPING IN BRIEFLY: “Imagine yourselves as somebody else… in a moment I’m just going to ask you for a moment to represent this great skill”. Luke models an example, then: “First agree with...

Curriculum Planning – Finding a Path

14th September 2019

Curriculum Planning - Finding a Path By Tim Taylor This article was originally published in the NATD Journal for Drama Education I think of the curriculum as a landscape, a place to be explored and charted. Some areas are open and welcoming, dappled with rolling hills, winding rivers, and clear, well-kept pathways. Others are dark and mysterious, overgrown, hidden, and rarely visited. There are parts that are methodically designed, tended regularly, divided up into straight symmetrical lines, like a garden created for a Renaissance stately home. While others are more chaotic, full of twisted forests, unexpected ruins, and dark cold...

Using drama for learning

8th September 2019

By Tim Taylor This article was originally written for Story Makers Company DRAMA IN THE CLASSROOM - PROCESS AND PLANNING The kind of drama we’re talking about in this booklet is not the kind of drama where children ‘act out’ a story or pretend to be a snowflake falling from the sky. Still less is it the kind of drama you see at the Christmas nativity play or a class assembly. It doesn’t involve acting, at least not in the sense of performance, there is no audience, and no script. The drama we’re talking about is drama for learning, that is...

Developing writing through Mantle of the Expert

30th August 2019

Ben Connor Developing writing through Mantle of the Expert Mantle of the Expert has changed the way that I teach writing. Using this method has allowed me to explore using a child’s imagination to bring their learning to life. For so long in writing sessions, pupils are asked to describe situations, settings, events by relying on what they have read or seen. These descriptions are often quite effective and tick all the boxed but lack real heart. Using Mantle and dramatic methods has helped me to put my children ‘in’ the story, making their descriptive writing more effective. Setting Does...

Mantle of the Expert can transform a class

13th August 2019

Reflections on Mantle of the Expert by NEU Project teacher, Helen Nash I started investigating Mantle of the Expert because of one particular class. They weren’t especially tricky – there were no extreme behaviours. They just…. weren’t with me. The large majority of them just wouldn’t try anything that wasn’t on their agenda; and this was particularly true of writing. Teaching children to write is one of my favourite things, but this class just didn’t want to despite my usual methods. I started researching Mantle of the Expert, gave them a client (King Brannagan) and a commission (to help him...

Adventures in Mantle of the Expert – One teacher’s journey

1st August 2019

Helen Chapman  What have I leaned working with MoE: Assignment 3 A brief background Growing up as part of a youth theatre who’s directors were very interested in drama for learning, one having been a student of Dorothy Heathcote herself. I was unknowingly and wonderfully immersed in Mantle of the Expert pedagogy. Those amazing journeys of dramatic discovery seemed the norm to me. While studying for my drama degree I was formally introduced to the work of Heathcote and Gavin Bolton and although this seemed exciting stuff, it also seemed to be very ‘deep’ hard to grasp- something for academics...

What I Have Learnt About Mantle of the Expert So Far

29th June 2019

By Nicole Winter This blog is from the final assignment of the NEU Mantle of the Expert programme 2018/19 Be authentic This is absolutely number one.  Dorothy’s statement of Mantle being about ‘a man in a mess,’ rings in my ears every time I do Mantle and drama for learning.  I want the children to feel and experience the fiction, rather than just pretend within it. Being authentic means going deep and slowing down.  When planning, it is so tempting to lay out a whole host of tasks to be undertaken as part of the commission and have grand plans for...


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