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...

The Three ‘Voices’ of Teaching Mantle of the Expert

3rd May 2019

By Tim Taylor Many people ask about the use of language in Mantle of the Expert, in particular the language used to move the students in and out of the fiction. This is one of the key ingredients of the approach and something I very well remember struggling with when I first started. In general terms there are ‘three voices’ used in this approach – facilitator, teacher in role, and narrator. These voices are the mechanisms we can use to create the fiction, bring the students (and out), and develop activities for thinking and learning. 1.1 The facilitator’svoice is the...

NEU Mantle of the Expert Programme Weekend 3

9th March 2019

March 2019 Hurricane Sequence in the expressive mode - technique: Physical Theatre 1. Imagine yourself as an object on the island that could be affected by the hurricane. [Commitment/Demand 4] 2. Just for a minute represent yourself as an object just before the storm. [Teacher Compass - 1st Quartile] 3. How might a hurricane affect a rive? [2nd quartile] 4. I’m going to ask the river to join me… Here we are as the two main forces water and wind. (Luke stands opposite Ben on either side of the room with the rest of the group between them). 5. If...

The way children look at art

1st January 2019

This short blog is about a video clip from a BBC documentary made in 1972 by John Berger called, "Ways of Seeing". You can view the whole series on YouTube, but in this extract Berger talks to a group of children who are looking at a painting by Caravaggio. Berger's reason for this is to point out how children's experiences of art are often purer (some would say more naive) than adults, especially those educated in art appreciation. Berger's observation is important, as it is obvious what we gain from education, but what do we lose in the process? Kieran...

Mantle of the Expert in an Icelandic classroom

22nd December 2018

By Viv Aitken Originally posted on Mantle of the Expert, Aotearoa This time, Hākon and Viv discuss a whole lot of things, including possibilities for introducing the key tension and challenges of avoiding ‘deceit’. The conversation finishes with Hākon reflecting on the whole experience and what he has learned. This post includes some photos of the children’s work, which really show the detail and care as they worked and reworked their maps for the city designs. Thanks for permission to share this material and share your journey with us, Hākon – it’s been great! Click here to read more...

Collaborative Questioning

21st December 2018

By Tim Taylor Questioning is the lifeblood of teaching. As Morgan and Saxton observed, “Education is a process of inquiry and questions are the chief agents by which meanings are mediated.” [Asking Better Questions, 2006] Being able to ask a perceptive question, followed by one that probes a little deeper, and another that gets to the heart of the matter, while at the same time bringing the students along with no feelings of anxiety or of being interrogated – this is the art of great teaching. In collaborative teaching, the teacher endeavours to work with the students, developing lines of...

Managing classroom behaviour in Mantle of the Expert

20th December 2018

By Tim Taylor Behaviour is one of the biggest concerns for teachers new to Mantle of the Expert. The three most frequently asked questions are: “How can I control my class if I’m treating them as experts?” “Doesn’t this approach mean I have to follow everything the children say?” “What can I do if the children misbehave?” Let’s look at each in turn. “How will I be able to control my class if I’m treating them as experts?” Remember, they are only experts in the fiction. In the real world they are still themselves. So if your class is one...

Learning through dramatic experiences

23rd November 2018

By Luke Abbott An account of a reworked Heathcotian experiment conducted in Birmingham in 1982. A short paper by Luke Abbott for students in year 1 Qattan Drama Summer School 2015 Jaresh Jordan. [Dear Colleagues, In this paper I outline the structure we used for our experiments into process drama and the long term mantle of the expert plan deployed with you as year 1 students this summer. In doing so, I am attempting to tackle some of the misconceptions you raised regarding MoE and process drama practices in learning environments that span long term goals, as well as short...


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