Hello world!

 

Welcome to Teacher Talking Time.

This is a blog for teachers interested in teacher education, teacher training and development, teaching and learning and related topics. We will be inviting a variety of  people to share their experiences on a regular basis – so keep coming back!.

The latest post is by Galina an ITI DELTA student working in Samara, Russia. She describes the three-day ITI Master Classes held at her University. Liz and I had a wonderful time and thank Galina for inviting us and also writing it up for our blog. 

I have written the first two posts to get the ball rolling. My first post is about ‘whole person learning’ and explains my personal philosophy that learning should utilise the whole person in terms of stimulating the mind, body and emotions.

My second post is also personal and describes my experiences over the last two years facing cancer. Like staring down from a precipice, confronting our fragile mortality is terrifying, and yet, at the same time by confronting the inevitable, it provides a unique opportunity to perceive from a new and sharper perspective and to learn valuable lessons about the nature of learning and life.

I hope you enjoy these postings and future ones.

Best wishes

Tom Godfrey (Director of ITI)

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How do teachers develop?

As a teacher trainer this is a question that preoccupies me on a daily basis. Moreover I am not alone in this enquiry, indeed a major area of research has been to examine the impact of training on a teacher’s development. Researching the development of a teacher as a result of a training course is a challenging task. Conclusions of these studies vary from training being highly significant to almost negligible in terms of a teacher’s professional development. These discrepancies highlight the fact that measuring the impact of training is complex. The initial problem is defining ‘development’. Most studies resolve this difficulty by equating development with ‘change’. The logic proceeds along the lines that if the aim is to promote development then by definition there needs to be change. This change can be identified and potentially even measured. Studies can focus on changes in classroom behaviour (by observation), or in knowledge (tests) or, currently popular, changes in teachers’ beliefs (by questionnaire or verbal or written report).

Such studies have a number of limitations. Firstly, failure to take a longitudinal perspective of a teacher’s life and assume that change can be identified at a specific stage (for example, after a training programme). Secondly, reliance on one method of data collection and failure to triangulate information. This is a flaw as experienced teacher trainers will concur that what a teacher professes to do in an oral or written report is not always what they demonstrate when observed in the classroom and vice versa. The real question needs to reveal the nature of teacher development. Are we examining change in terms of what a teacher does, knows or believes? Until we define the nature of teacher development then the change processes may remain too deeply hidden even for the most conscientious researcher to uncover.

Journeys in Teacher Education

Describing a teachers’ development as a journey is a well trodden metaphor (Godfrey, 2011). The allegory is apt however since a central concept of a teachers’ professional development implies change, moving from one position to another as in a journey.

Teacher development as a life long journey

As a journey has a destination and a route so does teacher development. The destination is knowledge, the route is the experience we need to obtain the knowledge. Teacher development is a life long journey and a commitment to development and change.

In my experience many teachers when they set out on this journey innocently perceive it as a well trodden path with the route clearly signposted and the staging posts marked. However this is rarely the case and it is often only by getting lost and having to cope with chaos that we really learn from experience. We learn more about the jungle by hacking through it on foot than reading about it in a book.

The Route of Teacher development

The Landscape

Before we can embark on our journey of teacher development, we need to consider what kind of journey are we on. What kind of landscape are we travelling through? How are we travelling? When considering the nature of teaching: Is teaching best described as a job (performing routine and repetitive tasks)? A career (life-long involvement and developing expertise with experience)? A profession (social responsibility and professional identity)? Or perhaps a vocation (personal significance and autonomy)? For most experienced teachers their perspective of their role may engage all of these characterisations. How teachers view their role and indeed how society at large views the role of a teacher is influenced by perceptions of the nature of knowledge (epistemology) and how knowledge is conveyed to learners.

So we can view a teacher’s role from a variety of perspectives and these ‘levels of perception’ are important when researching the nature of a teacher and teacher learning. This distinction is rarely acknowledged as most research studies on teacher learning are locked into an epistemological stance that sees teaching from one perspective only. Teachers’ roles are categorised into concepts of teachers as technicians, reflective practitioners or transformative intellectuals. These are not mutually exclusive categories but represent a cline as teaching involves elements of routine task and behaviours at one end, to reflective thinking and effecting personal and social change at the other.

The Route

These levels of perception are mirrored historically in English language teaching where there has been an evolution from behaviorism and a focus on techniques, practices and methods through to learner centered approaches concerned more with the learner and affective factors. These changes in perception are influenced by psychology and second language acquisition research. They alter our perceptions of the landscape and the route we need to take on our teacher’s developmental journey. .

Empiricists vs Rationalists

There is a vast quantity of literature describing a teacher’s professional development but also little consensus and considerable confusion. This confusion appears to be largely caused by the shifting epistemological perspectives in which the focus of enquiry has targeted different features of teacher learning. Prior to 1975 the dominant research paradigm concerned the relationship between the teachers’ classroom behaviour, students’ classroom behaviour, and student achievement. This research model, advocated by Empiricists, focuses on teacher behaviour and observable outcomes of empirical observation. This was followed by a Rationalist domain of enquiry known as ‘teacher cognition’ studying what teachers know and think.  This vast volume of research data enables applied linguists to boldly claim that now they have an understanding of how teachers conceive of what they do: what they know about language teaching, how they think about their classroom practice, and how that knowledge and those thinking processes are learned through teacher development and informal experience on the job.

This confident assertion can only be offered from a convergent oriented research paradigm that perceives the journey of teacher development as consisting of one route and one destination. There is an underlying reductionist assumption that there are static generalisations and truths to be uncovered from the research data. I argue that we also need to consider a third possibility of a more dynamic, divergent approach to teacher learning and development that views individual teacher’s behaviour and thoughts as being influenced by a set of ‘beliefs’ that are personal, dynamic and often subconscious and these internalized perceptions, beliefs and feelings relate to who one is in the world. In other words we need to accept that there may be many routes and destinations on the teacher development journey.

All three paradigms, focusing alternately on what teachers do, think and feel are all components of the developmental journey. They represent three ‘learning journeys’ that although they can operate separately, they are inextricably linked.

The Destination

The question we need to address is: what is the destination? What knowledge does a teacher need? Malderez and Bodoczky (1999) identify three levels for describing a teacher’s knowledge. They depict the relationship visually using the metaphor of an iceberg.

Above the water level of the iceberg there are the observable behaviours of what happens in the classroom. There are a number of approaches in the literature focussing on investigating teachers’ practical classroom knowledge. One approach takes teachers knowledge as personal, practical and tacit knowledge developed in the course of engaging in the act of teaching and responding to the context of the situation. However this knowledge is not always easily accessible to the the conscious mind as ‘we know more than we can tell’ (Polyani, 1967). Teachers with experience act in the cassroom in a certain way but can be had pushed to explain why they responded in certain ways. There is a distinction between a teacher’s tacit knowledge and formalised knowledge that can be disseminated. Schon (1983) proposed that what teachers do in the classroom can be defined as ‘knowing in action’, that is, practice reveals a knowing that does not stem from intellectual operation. In other words knowing how to teach does not depend on formalised knowledge (as medicine and law). Expert mathematicians may not be the best mathematics teachers and effective language teachers may not have much knowledge of linguistics. Hence the distinction between what teachers do in the classroom (practice) and what they know (theory) has generated contrasting opinions. Are the actions of an effective teacher more attuned to magic, where there is valuing of the individual, the particular, the local, the intuitive, the imaginative: or to science, where there is valuing of the general, the systematic, the objective, the publicly shared.

In the 1980s cognitive learning theories shifted research to questions under the water level of the iceberg to examine what teachers know, how they use this knowledge and what impact their decisions have on practice. Deeper under the surface are beliefs. Beliefs, it is claimed, greatly influence teaching, are unconscious, deep rooted and hard to change. Even deeper into the depths of the iceberg we have teachers’ feelings and attitudes to teaching. Attitude is a way of thinking that inclines one to feel and behave in certain ways. It is influenced by factors such as status, level of pay, political structure of the school and other social forces. Positive and negative attitudes to teaching will change, as indeed the social context in which the teachers operate and find meanings will change.

A framework to describe teacher development

In order to conceptualise a teacher’s development as a metaphorical journey, we need to frame the journey into three ‘learning worlds’.

1. The Applied World: Classroom teaching (procedure and techniques) and the teacher’s visible behaviours are the physical manifestations on the journey.

2. The Cognitive World: Teaching design and knowledge and the teacher’s mental ideas and concepts are the route. The symbolic journey is cognitive and non observable.

3. The Spiritual World: The final element is the teacher’s inner responses (how they make sense of the journey in terms of individual feelings, beliefs, attitudes and values. The changes in the traveller’s feelings, moods, thoughts and attitudes to the journey are not identifiable to the external observer but nevertheless these are the changes that determines the traveller’s sense of self, her identity and in terms of the traveller’s development, the changes that should interest us the most.

Typically research into a teacher’s developmental journey has focussed on specific features of the journey, predominantly either focusing on the applied world and the observable phenomena or the symbolic journey and the learning processes or the real or imagined impressions of the teacher as they go on their journey. however, in reality all these world are interacting and interlocking – all essential features of the same journey.

The role of the trainer.

What is the role of training in the developmental journey?

If teaching is at its roots the acquisition of pedagogic skills and these skills are acquired primarily through classroom experience , then what role, we can ask, does a training course have on a teachers’ development?

Focus on techniques: Is training about providing a recipe of skills?

One answer is to view a training course as a transmission process where the trainer demonstrates a recipe of techniques for trainee teachers to practise. The analogy is the guide in the jungle demonstrating techniques for climbing a rock face, building a shelter, navigating by the stars. Indeed, this logic is applied to more rigid teaching approaches (i.e. Audiolingualism) that attempt to make teaching (and learning) languages (and by extension teacher training) formulaic and ‘teacher proof’. This conception of training only makes sense if the teaching context is stable. However no learners or groups of learners respond in an uniform manner. Teaching, as a social practice, is constituted through communication and coordinated action: it depends on the often unpredictable ways in which learners act and respond to the actions of others. One could argue of course that one method of reducing the unpredictability of teaching is to restrict the number of possible actions and activities in classrooms. McDonald’s fast food chains provide a parallel analogy. The limited number of items on the menu and the global uniformity of both the preparation of the food and the layout and working procedures of the staff restrict the number of different activities available to staff and customers. This makes the experience of ordering a ‘Big Mac’ the same all over the world irrespective of local language and cuisine. We can envisage a ‘Big Mac’ manual to ELT teaching. Many classroom actions are habitual in nature, the patterns of action can be acquired in training and practised until highly proficient through experience.

What happens though when the tried and trusted techniques fail? Pedagogy is more than the relationship between action and consequences. This is particularly self-evident in teaching when the same lesson taught to different groups invariably has a variety of outcomes (a world apart from the standardised Big Mac). There is an intersubjectivity between the worlds of action, mind and self. When the lesson starts going pear shaped, we need to call on the world of reflective skills and critical thinking.

Focus on theory: Is training a form of brainwashing?

Undoubtedly, while teachers need training to be grounded in classroom practice they also need the the theoretical rationale. Why does this work? How should theory be conveyed in a training context? The desired outcome of the course is greater shared tacit knowledge. Many teachers demand a deductive approach (as do many learners): “Tell me what I need to know”. However a lecturing approach to theory rarely is effective as abstract ideas and processes mean little to participants without the reference point of personal experience. Indeed this theoretical indoctrination without opportunities for critical reflection or practical application is not dissimilar to a form of brainwashing.  

On the other hand it is also possible to criticise more inductive approaches to training too. Constructivist theory suggests that shared tacit knowledge will be the outcome where teachers participate in activities and decision-making, have a sense of responsibility and engage in collaborative work. However most teachers would be wary of putting learners into a group with the expectation that through interaction and dialogue alone effective learning would be achieved. There are numerous mitigating factors concerning individual’s professional identity and pervasive influence of the context. A balance of guidance and discovery is required by the trainer depending on a range of factors such as depth of teaching experience and factors related to personality and self esteem.

In order for effective interaction and collaboration to exist there needs to be a culture of trust and mutual respect. Opportunities for interaction may be less significant in terms of learning and meaning construction and more important for establishing and exploring personal identity and a ‘sense of self’. There is a danger of creating superficial and contrived forms of interaction or ‘sharing for the sake of sharing’. What is needed, in other words, is a model of teacher education that acknowledges the non-causal nature of training interaction and accepts the value of personal enhancement as well as technical processes. How teachers’ feel about themselves enhances their technical, reflective and critical skills. Greater confidence means better teachers.

I can illustrate what I mean about the non-causal nature of training with an analogy. When a chef enters the kitchen to cook a meal, he can predict the outcome of the process with confidence. He prepares and mixes the ingredients, places them in the cooker and most days the out come is the similar: a trainer enters the training room with a group of teachers and can not predict the outcomes of the process in the same manner. Each group of participants will behave differently. This requires an inner security and confidence in order to appreciate that there may be a loss of clarity and control but not a loss of one’s personal identity.

Three interlocking developmental journeys

We can conclude by stating that there are at least three learning journeys. The physical journey seeks to answer ‘how’ questions and involves physical action and classroom procedure. The reflective journey seeks to answer ‘what’ questions and takes us out of ourselves to consider abstractions, metaphor and generalisations. We travel this road to create meaning in a rationale objective manner. The spiritual journey seeks to answer ‘why’ questions and takes us into our inner selves to consider who we are, our spirituality, desires, identity. We travel this road to discover our subjective inner truth.

Creating our own reality.

Of course the metaphor of learning as a journey is a simplification. A teacher’s developmental journey cannot be concretized into a definable product or process: knowledge and learning are inseparable and not bound in time and space. Knowledge can enter our consciousness with blinding clarity one moment and then dissipate into wispy clouds. We have the ability to re-imagine, re-create and re-invent past experiences and fashion them to our desire, highlighting episodes that reverberate with our inner sense of self. Equally we create our future journeys through imagination and visualisation. We dream and fantasize. We create our learning journeys and fashion the landscape in our own reflection. We become the teacher we are through the way we engage with what we learn.

The challenge for teacher education, then, is firstly to make teachers aware of the landscape and the journeys they create for themselves and help them understand how they created their landscape and especially why. The answers to these questions lies in an exploration not only of what teachers do and think but also an exploration of who the teacher is, in other words their sense of self.

Biibliography

Godfrey, J. T. (2011) Journeys in Teacher Training and Education. LAP LAMBERT Academic Publishing.

Malderez, A. and Bodoczky, C. (1999) Mentor Courses: a resource book for teacher trainers. Cambridge University Press.

Polyani, M. (1967) The Tacit Dimension. New York. Doubleday.

Schon, D. A. (1983) The Reflective Practitioner. London: Temple Smith

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LOCK DOWN

The Host has his eye on you.

This film premieres on Sunday 26th April at 21.00.
Please visit the page. Like it, share it, write a comment in chat and then let’s all watch the premiere on Sunday.

‘Lockdown’ is a short film set in a zoom room during the COVID 19 pandemic. It was filmed during the lock down. The film shows two people (Adam and Eve) meeting in a virtual space. It is an allegory of the creation story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden but in this virtual space the Tree of Knowledge is represented by the internet. Despite Eve’s warnings, Adam recommits the original sin by digesting the fruit of the forbidden tree of knowledge (and allowing the virtual paradise to be corrupted by the virus pandemic). The virtual space is ‘lorded over’ by the mysterious ‘Host’ and a chorus of voices. The film depicts a moral philosophy which draws on the tradition of medieval morality plays popular in the 15th and 16th centuries. It is an allegorical film in which the characters face the dilemma of a life in a lock down.

in May 2020 when we were forced into lockdown by the COVID 19 pandemic. The original play depicts two tribes meeting in Paradise and describes their attempts to live together. However, as in ‘Lock Down’, the ideal is destroyed when Adam eats from the Tree of Knowledge and the tribes have to build a wall to separate themselves from further conflict. The play was inspired by a short sketch by Luke Prodromou called ‘The Wall’. In this play the two protagonists build a wall between them as the only solution to avoid conflict only to find that the wall exacerbates their mutual suspicion and distrust of each other. The original play also refers to the ‘12 Rules for Life an antidote to chaos’, the number 1 best seller by Jordan B Peterson. The original play was inspired by Peterson’s depiction of the story of Adam and Eve. Peterson in his book provides twelve principles for living a meaningful life which were incorporated in the original stage play. The attempt to find meaning as a defence against suffering is also a theme of Lockdown.

The film is an adaption from the original stage play by Tom Godfrey called ‘Me and You and Jordan Peterson’ which our theatre Speech Bubbles was planning for performance The film is produced by Speech Bubbles. Speech Bubbles is a theatre group based in Istanbul. One of the aims of the group is to raise money for charities.

We hope to use the film ‘Lockdown’ to help raise funds for medical teams in hospitals in Istanbul. We are asking for donations to buy medical masks and other equipment to help medical staff in their work treating patients suffering from the COVID 19 pandemic. Donations to: http://www.speechbubbles.org

The Host has his eye on you!

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‘WRONG ROOM’ A Virtual Play

COME AND WATCH A PLAY THIS SATURDAY.

https://www.facebook.com/5thwallvirtualtheatre/

The play is called ‘Wrong Room’ and is written and directed by Charlotte MacQuaid. It stars members of Speech Bubbles Theatre a diverse cast of actors that all live in Istanbul. The play is a comedy and is set online in a live chat room when a glitch sends total strangers into the wrong zoom room and reveals their stories.

Live link: https://www.facebook.com/5thwallvirtualtheatre/

The play will be performed this Saturday 18th at the following times:

Istanbul Time: (running time 30mins)

13:00
17:00
20:00

(Make sure you check what time this would be in your time zone depending which country you are viewing from.)

All you have to do is be on this page at one of those times to watch the show LIVE. You can comment and invite your friends to watch with you.

As part of us entertaining you we ask that you make a small contribution to one of the charities below to support Health workers in the current fight against COVID-19.

http://www.speechbubbles.org/

 (raising funds to donate to hospitals in Istanbul)

https://covid19responsefund.org/

 (COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund for WHO)

We look forward to seeing you in the audience on Saturday!

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Welcome back to Fenella Kelly

Do you remember Fenella Kelly?
She was one of the founding members of Speech Bubbles way back in the 1990s.She was the lead choreographer in our first musical “Grease’ and also choreographed in our production of ‘Cabaret”
Fenella then went on to career as a Drama teacher at International Schools around the world and became a leading light in ISTA

International Schools Theatre Association Board of Trustees, ISTA Honorary Life Member. 

 Fenella is going to deliver an 8 hour short course entitled Integrating Drama into the Curriculum at ITI over the weekend of 7th / 8th March. Please find information about Fenella and the course attached.
There are a few places left on the course. You can register here: International Training Institute, Istanbul | CELTADELTA

Description:

The skills taught in a Drama class develop the individual to be able to work alone and

as part of a group. They equip students to be able to:

· communicate meaning effectively

· collaborate with others

· put themselves in someone else’s shoes to see things from other perspectives and

· learn how to use their voice, body, space and semiotics

· achieve an intended impact on an audience

All of these skills are transferable to other subjects and the workplace.

What will the workshop entail?

This two-day (8 hour) workshop will take participants through practical exercises where they

learn and develop skills, that can be applied to teaching, collaboration and leadership, such as:

Focus & concentration, awareness of space/others, collaborating effectively.

Communicating ideas, listening to others, articulating a vision, using imagination.

Projection & articulation.

How will the participants learn about Drama as a teaching approach?

Participants will learn first-hand Drama pedagogy, in terms of introducing and pacing a lesson, varying the energy of exercises, types of groupings for work and the range of ways to share and present processes, performance work and findings. The workshop implements ideas from Fenella’s 28 years of teaching & leadership experience, and also draws on a range of theatre theorists and theatre companies, referencing source material that may be useful in the participants’ curricula planning.

Participants will learn how to apply Drama ideas to a range of Subjects across the

school (this can be tailored to the participants’ needs), such as:

● Drama in English Language teaching

● Applying Drama to historical or literary characters and events

● Using acting techniques to deliver a speech or powerpoint presentation

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Become the teacher you want to be

In a world of choices, the most important choice is deciding who and what you want to be. Investing in your own personal development is the only real choice you need to make.

Become the teacher you want to be with the help of ITI.

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Drama Workshops and a performance by ‘Performance Exchange’ a professional theatre based in the UK.

Tickets from:www.speechbubbles.org  

DRAMA WORKSHOPS and Performance at Speech Bubbles

By Performance Exchange

A professional theatre company based in the UK

Drama Workshop for young performers (age 7 – 12)

Sunday 29th September 11.00 – 12.30

Register here now:

Drama Workshop for adult performers

Sunday 29th September 16.00 – 17.30

Register here now.

The workshops may include the following:

1) Voice – For all those who use the voice. Based on the “Listening in” and “Whispered Ah” techniques.

2) Movement – Centering, breathing, physical expression in performance – Japanese Kabuki and Noh theatre techniques.

3) Masks – Eyes, faces, masks – a great introductory workshop.

4) Mask Making – Paper, papier mache, wood, cloth – for all ages.

5) Acting – Monologue, Improv, audition technique.

6) Shakespeare – Themes, rhythm, poetry, language, staging. acting – The Bards best bits.

Performance Exchange presents

AN EVENING WITH CHARLES DICKENS AND MARK TWAIN

Sunday 29th September 16.00 – 17.30

Performance Exchange is an independent London based theatre company presenting exciting, thought-provoking and innovative productions that tour to all corners of the globe and to far away and remote destinations. The company was formed in 1981 and is an “Exchange” of performers, designers, actors, writers and directors. The company has toured to 37 countries (and counting). For the British Council we have toured to Germany, Korea, Sri Lanka and Hong Kong. Our actors also offer exciting workshops, master classes, discussions and Q&A’s on theatre, acting, directing and cross-cultural theatre projects.

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Tickets from:www.speechbubbles.org  
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Speech Bubbles 30th Anniversary Celebrations

Chicago

Saturday 7th September and Sunday 8th September

Interested? Click here

The two-day celebration aims to bring together participants on ITI training courses, tutors, TP students and members of Speech Bubbles to a ‘get together’ to share experiences through a series of presentations, workshops, discussions, party games and many other fun activities.

30th Anniversary Celebration Provisional Programme

Saturday 7th September 10.00: Welcome address

10.30 – 13.30: Talks and Workshops

13.30 – 14.30: Lunch

14.30 – 17.30: Talks and Workshops

19.00: Bosphorous Boat Party and Dinner

Sunday 8th September

14.00 – 15.00: Shakespeare for Dummies. Performance.

15.00 – 16.30: Performance by Speech Bubbles (kids and adults). Plus Imporv and Stand up.

16.30 – 17.30: Pecha Kucha

17.30 – 19.00: “Pub” Quiz

19.00 – 20.00: Scottish Country Dancing

20.30 – 21.30: Cocktail Party

Please inform us which days and events you are intending to attend as interest is high by following this link: https://doodle.com/poll/qvcfe2p98b95ag6v

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ITI 30th anniversary celebrations and awards re-uniting friends and colleagues

The two-day celebration aims to bring together participants on ITI training courses, tutors, TP students and members of Speech Bubbles to a ‘get together’ to share experiences through a series of presentations, workshops, discussions, party games and many other fun activities. 

Nominations for the ITI Awards.

The ITI awards are to celebrate the impact and innovation of ITI graduates in different aspects of English language teaching (ELT) and to provide a forum to share and disseminate innovative practice. The ITI Awards aim to elicit practical innovative ideas in general so no idea is too small or large. If you are interested in submitting an idea, please click here for further information.

30th Anniversary Celebrations: The Provisional Programme.

Saturday 7th September 

10.00 – 17.00: ITI Innovation Awards Presentations and Conference.

19.00:  Bosphorous Boat Party and Dinner

Sunday 8th September

14.00 – 17.00: Celebrations and party activities at ITI

17.00 – 19.30: Speech Bubbles show

19.30 – 21.30: Cocktail Party

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Are learners today awake or Sleeping Beauties?

Who is going to kiss the Princess?

Who is going to kiss the Princess?

One of my favourite drama based lessons (attached below) is based on the story of the Sleeping Beauty. The story can be seen as an allegory of the human condition and raises awareness of the nature of consciousness.

The term ‘raising awareness’ is often used in teacher training. The aim of many lesson plans produced by techers I observe is to raise awareness of a specific grammatical structure, a lexical set or a sub skill. However what is rarely defined is how a learners’ awareness can be raised – indeed what is awareness anyway.

Order versus chaos

I look at teaching as a delicate balance between the forces of order and chaos. Order consists of the elements that we know (what we have control over), it is the lesson plan, the materials and handouts, the lesson stages and their sequence. It is based on our knowledge of the subject and teaching methodology. For teachers it is their armour which protects them from the unknown. However a lesson that is too ordered is like a chess match in which every move has been rehearsed in advance. On the surface it looks like a productive lesson with each sequence following the next but in reality nothing is really happening apart from pre-ordained sequences, certainly nothing is being learned by the teacher or the learners. Unfortunately many lessons do suffer from this over controlling teacher centeredness as teachers fear the unknown and over compensate with too much order. A life that is too ordered is a life spent unconscious.

Chaos on the other hand is the unknown. It is unpredictable and every lesson needs to have an element of risk to encounter the unfamilair and provide learning opportunities. It is only by entering the unfamiliar that we can experience new phenomena. Chaos occurs when in chess our opponent makes a move we hadn’t expected and suddenly we are in new territory and our previous experience and knowledge needs to be adapted. However unchecked chaos is simply anarchy, directionless and random, a lesson with no focus, aims or direction. There must be rules and order in proportion.

So how is this balance between order and chaos achieved? Well, I believe this is where the concept of awareness raising is important. It is consciousness that allows us to negotiate a balance. Consciousness allows us to negotiate meaning and enables us to make sense of the boundaries between the known and the unknown. Awareness raising allows us to open our eyes and understand what we are seeing. It is the mechanism that enables us to perceive both our vulnerability and our strengths in action. However awareness raising has its limits, we are only able to focus on certain things at a time. To most of the world we are blind as demonstrated by the experiments of D. Simons who showed that when told to focus on basketball players and count the number of passes completed, observers were unable to ‘see’ a huge gorilla walk onto the court. So we can not focus on everything and what we do focus on therefore is valued, why else we would focus on it at the expense of other elements.

The fairy tale of the Sleeping Beauty provides a ueful allegory to help understand the relationship between order, chaos and awareness (consciousness). After many years of frustration and dispair, the King and Queen are finally blessed with a baby daughter, the princess Rose. Such is their joy they invite everyone to a christening to introduce her to the world and to allow everyone to show their joy by bringing gifts. However despite their elevated position, the King and Queen soon realise that they are unable to control their destiny. The christening raises some dilemmas: firstly what gift can you give a princess? The fairies gifts of beauty, and song will soon prove to be of little value. Secondly how do you prevent unwelcome guests?

The evil witch (furious at not being invited) curses the princess, sentencing her to death at the age of sixteen, caused by the prick of a spinning wheel’s needle. The story illustrates that even the most protective of parents can not protect their daughter from chaos. Indeed trying to protect her actually makes her weak and vulnerable. The spinning wheel is the wheel of fate, the prick that produces blood symbolises the loss of viginity and innocence.

The spell (fortuitiously) is reduced by the third ‘good’ fairy to eternal sleep redeemable only by a true love’s first kiss. The terrified monarchs destroy all the spinning wheels in the land and turn their daughter to the constant attention of the good fairies. Of course the strategy of removing all dangers from the princess is not only ultimately futile but leaves the princess naive, innocent and weak. As I said earlier, without exposure to chaos we can not learn and develop. Sure enough on her sixteenth birthday Rose pricks her finger on a spinning wheel and falls into unconsciousness. She becomes the Sleeping Beauty choosing unconsciousness over the terrors of adult life.

Something existentially similar occurs in modern life where over protected children seek the bliss of an ordered safe routine often involving large stretches of time unconsciously absorbed in front of screens (phones, TVs, computers). Take the young adolscent play station addict who is selfishly self absorbed gaming every evening. The parents feel this behaviour is anti-social but are too nice to intervene. More truthfully they do not pay attention or admit to what is happening, non-confrontation is the easier route. They are annoyed of course but pretend everything is OK. It is not OK. They will snap at their child later for something totally unrelated. The child will be hurt and confused but will learn nothing. Far worse is that he or she will continue to learn nothing. Later they will have problems socialising at school, they will feel rejected, and lonely. That will produce anxiety, depression and resentment. That in turn will produce the turning from life, more screen time and a wish for unconsciousness and the existence of a Sleeping Beauty.

Fun drama based lesson

This is a fun integrated skills lesson practicing reading and speaking skills based on the fairy tale: the Sleeping Beauty. By the end of the lesson students will have practiced controlled and less guided speaking practice leading into a dramatization of the story.

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If you saw the film – Don’t miss this show

Speech Bubbles has come a long way since our first musical (Grease) performed at Robert College in 1999. This year we are celebrating 30 years of musicals and pantomimes supporting children and education in Turkey.

This weekend Speech Bubbles theatre group are performing We Will Rock You by Queen at the Torun Centre, Mecidiyekoy. Book your ticket: http://www.speechbubbles.org

We Will Rock You is a story about a future world where everything is controlled by one large technology company. The population is taught how to think and behave the same. Fortunately, there are a few ‘free thinkers’ (the Bohemians) who still believe in creativity and the power of ‘rock music. In many ways this dystopian world is not unlike the reality of today where children spend hours passively in front of screens, failing to communicate or think critically – only the Bohemians struggle to stay awake and dream of a brighter future.

This is the ethos behind Speech Bubbles. We are a multi-national group of musicians, actors, teachers and other professionals joined by our love of the performing arts and the desire to raise money to support education and children in Turkey.

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