“Mantle of the Expert as an approach to the whole curriculum” – Dorothy Heathcote
The idea is to create an imagined context for the development of skills and the acquisition of knowledge. Through Mantle of the Expert children can encounter many dimensions of the school curriculum.
Here are some examples (click on the links to read the planning):
A class of children studying the Tudor period are cast as museum experts in charge of running a Tudor mansion for the National Trust. They prepare the exhibits, research the history of the period, and find out about the house and those who once lived there. When everything is ready they open it up to the public and guide them round, telling them about the past.
A class of young children are creating an island, using a large sheet of cloth and various other resources. The island is going to be populated by a number of exotic animals, including dinosaurs. Once it is finished the children will imagine themselves as a team of scientists parachuting onto the beach. Their mission is to find the dinosaurs, observe them and report back to the World Wildlife Fund.
An older group of students are cast as agents planning to evacuate Jewish children from Prague just before the borders are closed. After researching the history, the students switch roles to imagine what it must have been like to have stood on the platform waiting to board the train. They explore this event from multiple points of view – the children, the parents, the journalists reporting events – and then write diary entries written by the evacuees. These later appear in an exhibition (created by the students, now in role as museum curators) to be shown to members of the public (their parents).