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[Xmca-l] Re: Response to Spoilsport: Beyond oppositional dualities indrama in education and dialogic pedagogy to promote learning possibilities

Susan, Ana,
Thank you for this dialogical drama OR should i say dramatic dialogue?
This question of our relation to places (and within places) of BOTH drama AND dialogue.
To place critical ontological dialogical practices on one side of a horizontal zone focusing  on reflection and differences to critically create agency through resisting socialized constraints (through di/vergence)
On the other hand (not opposites but a matter of degree) dialogical drama focuses on creating *places* of con/vergence as an experience of becoming embodied in  virtual/real spaces of psychic belonging.
These are two aspects of  horizontal understandings of  *verging* phenomena.
What Merleau-Ponty adds is the experience of psychic *place* as mutually embodied through our personal body as placed within perceptual/acting experiences of the speaking subject AND in con/junction with personal embodiment there is another aspect of becoming embodied *within* our mutually shared endowed spaces of drama AND dialogue.
I submit that divergences and reflective agency occur as critical dialogues from within previously shared perceptual horizons as endowed virtual/real frameworks or paradigms.
The evaluative component is to ask if we *should* focus developing agency through divergences as primary and convergences as derived or to focus our conscious intent on convergences as primary and divergences as derived.
The evaluative choice of what side of *vergence*to emphasize has an aspect of faith and presupposition that either perceiving/acting is primary and critical reflective dialogue explores this primary realm OR perceiving/acting is secondary and critical reflective ontology of being/becoming is primary and generates the *I can*
A fascinating con/verse/ation on how we evaluate verging phenomena.

-----Original Message-----
From: "Susan Davis" <s.davis@cqu.edu.au>
Sent: ‎2016-‎02-‎28 10:10 PM
To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca-l@mailman.ucsd.edu>
Subject: [Xmca-l] Response to Spoilsport: Beyond oppositional dualities indrama in education and dialogic pedagogy to promote learning possibilities

As scholars and practitioners committed to the use of drama for
educational purposes we wish to
respond briefly to Ana Marjanovic-Shane¹s article: ³Spoilsport² in drama in
education vs. dialogic pedagogy. Our intention is to provide some of our
professional understanding of drama¹s use in educational contexts that we
will illuminate some of the misunderstandings we find in this article. At
same time, we look forward to future productive dialogue about what we
as potential overlaps between these pedagogical approaches.

            We need to stress from the start that there is no unified
field named Œdrama in education¹ that would extend to
those who work within playworlds, or practice psychodrama and so forth as
claimed by Marjanovic-Shane. We confine our remarks to the field that we
knowledgeable about and from which Marjanovic-Shane draws her example: a
classroom use of drama described by Heathcote as Œdrama in education¹ or
Œeducational drama¹ and more recently as process drama, applied theatre,
dramatic inquiry, among other terms.  In fact these fields of practice
have arisen from very different communities in progressive
school education, educational psychology, early childhood, and play all of
independently discovered the power of using drama in their practice. There
only recently been some nascent interactions between these groups (see for
example the book ŒDramatic Interactions in Education¹
910/> which we published last year) to find areas of common interest and
concern.  As with
those who identify with the field of Œdialogic pedagogy¹ we look forward to
more fruitful discussions and debates about research, practice and
which work for the benefit of students and participants in learning

There is no space in this response to show in detail why we resist the
dichotomy established in this article, believing such are rarely helpful.
However, we do can not agree with Marjanovic-Shane¹s conclusion that
any dramatic pedagogy cannot be dialogic or that there are irreconcilable
differences between these pedagogical approaches.

In our view, she is correct in identifying that a pre-requisite for using
drama in classrooms is an implicit, if not explicit, agreement to play the
³game of drama² and in effect to begin to create an ensemble and
enter into social worlds. However, rather than characterizing such social
agreement as somehow different from real life, we argue that there is
difference from the tacit agreement to join in the ³social drama² of
life (Turner, 1974), as for example university students do by agreeing to
participate in a discussion. However drama has the additional sphere of
possibility that can be physically and conceptually explored through the
activation of Œwhat if¹ in action.

Unlike discussion, drama is a social art that can only be created when a
group comes together willingly to collaborate in dramatizing
life events. There is indeed a consensus but only about agreeing to work
together or to focus dramatizing on a particular storyline, topic, or
there is no consensus assumed about the meaning of the work.

Using drama in a classroom does not assume that a student cannot choose
not to join in or cannot opt out at any point.
Participants may present or raise different views that may be addressed
dialogically. Agreeing to join in is not an experience of being ³trapped²
by a
teacher with no exit in sight. Nor does it mean that a teacher would label
someone a ³spoilsport² to be ³cast out.² We have conducted many practical
sessions when not only have people chosen to sit out, some of whom have
chosen to join in, but we have protected young people from others in a
ready to ³discipline² them. Just as a person who does not join a theatre
cannot create a performance, or a preschool child choosing not to play
with others
may engage in other activities, not participating in drama just means that
person cannot contribute at that time to the collaborative creation of
in an imagined world.

Marjanovic-Shane uses a highly selective video extract from a 1971 drama
session featuring the master teacher Dorothy Heathcote to
infer that Heathcote dragoons students into a drama within which their
and alternative views are closed down. However, as O¹Neill shared in the
keynote address Power-sharing: Teacher power
and student choices, where she describes another more recent 2007 drama
conducted in the U.S., Heathcote
worked with all major offers children made, never adopting an authoritarian
position but asking participants to consider the consequences of their
When a group of boys invented a bomb which Œblew¹ up a celebratory event
in a
drama, Heathcote said: ³There is nothing we do in this room that isn¹t
happening somewhere in the world² (Heathcote in O¹Neill 2014, p 26). Even
though others in the room were horrified and expected her to castigate the
involved, Heathcote respected and worked with the material they offered,
drawing out
significance, considering the implications and working dialogically with
alternative views from her own.

Marjanovic-Shane assumes that a teacher¹s authority in drama is
authoritarian and that a leader of drama is in danger of becoming a
fascist dictator. Whilst it is certainly possible for a teacher to misuse
authority oppressively or with very limited choice for how people might
participate (as in the Ron Jones simulation example she uses which has
been seen as a lighthouse model of drama in education) that is never our
intention nor would it be endorsed in the literature. It is true that at
times Heathcote
can quite rightly be described as acting in Œauthoritative¹ roles within
dramatic contexts, but she fiercely resisted pressures to take on
teacher positions. 

Indeed, Heathcote (1984) herself is quite clear that as a teacher she
intends to ³bring power to my students and to draw on their
power² (p.21). Heathcote saw the teacher¹s role as one that should not
bully or take away power from
others, but rather that should enable them to develop their agency. Her
commitment to endowing power and agency to others is shared through an
interesting insight in her paper Contexts for Active Learning. Here
Heathcote revealed that her drama and teaching
strategies were all developed so she would never have to be in a position
³tell people off² (Heathcote, 2002, p.1). However, counter to many
romanticised notions of an open, free for all classroom, this version of
democratized classroom was not a hands-off model with students making all
decisions. Rather, she envisions a classroom with episodes that were highly
interventionist and carefully structured. These often involved
provocations and
active negotiations, with Heathcote playing multi-functional roles,
selecting and making decisions, but always working to ensure that the
were invested, contributing, and collaboratively developing work that
would be meaningful
in multiple ways for all participants.
eathcote intended not just to create dramatic experiences but also to
create spaces in which all might dialogue and reflect
to explore for multiple possible meanings in the work: ³If you cannot
the reflective power in people you might as well not teach, because
is the only thing that in the long run changes anybody² (Ibid, p. 104).
Finally, Heathcote was emphatic that all participants in drama, ³be
fully as individuals with rights [including] the power to affect a
and to respond in a growing complexity of ways to that situation² (Ibid,
p. 153).  

It is unfortunate that the Spoilsport article seeks to compare examples of
praxis in an apples
and oranges way to draw out unwarranted generalizations about all drama in
education. She compares examples of teaching on different topics, for
purposes, and with access to very different data: a short segment of a 45
old videoed drama with children is compared to an extended sequence of
exchanges and events in a higher education institution taught recently by
author. The drama example analyzed is a brief extract from the first few
minutes of a BBC film about Dorothy Heathcote made for commercial not
educational purposes. Missing from the film is all of Heathcote¹s
negotiations and reflections with these children all of whom had been
as ³delinquent² and had in effect been ³cast out² into this special school

Marjanovic-Shane misses the point that Heathcote was playing with the
children, including through her
early use of power in role, not to force them to do what they did not want
do but rather the reverse. Marjanovic-Shane further assumes that in drama,
participants do not ³test their own ideas ­ their truths² and that
teachers do
not seek out or value ³dissensus.² Yet that was Heathcote¹s aim as it is
ours. Heathcote¹s
intention in this session was to work with the children to create
fictional experiences
in which by working together the boys were not only able to work out ways
which they might outwit an authoritarian regime represented by her in role
as a
Nazi officer but further to reflect on an issue of importance to them: why
someone choose to dissent by becoming an informant and a collaborator?

Marjanovic-Shane assumes that the purpose of drama in education is to
³socialize² participants whereas dialogic pedagogy seeks to
³deepen critical examinations of any aspect of life.² Whilst socialization
be a declared or implicit purpose there are drama practitioners across
of work who would also share Marjanovic-Shane¹s aim and who have
documented how participants working with a teacher may engage in extensive
cultural analysis of how power operates in society (e.g. Medina & Campano,
2006; Enciso, 2011; O¹Connor & Anderson, 2015).

In summary, the explicit premise of Marjanovic-Shane¹s
argument is that drama work is non-dialogic because participants must
participate in making a fictional world, which appears to be on the
terms. This is an ill-informed representation of drama¹s potential in the
classroom. Decades of documentation and analysis would show otherwise .
Marjanovic Shane seems to dismiss the imagined possibilities that can be
explored through drama and unwilling to engage in dialogue about the
ways that drama could in fact be dialogic. Rather than being restricted to
dialogue in the Œreal¹ world with people sharing critical views,
participants in
drama can collaboratively test out multiple alternatives to what seems
Œreal¹ and
fixed. In drama everyone can contribute dialogically to create different
versions of reality, multiple possible outcomes, alternative viewpoints,
new understandings. The social and cultural power of drama is that people
change their views, understand more about themselves, others, and the
world we
live in. Surely that is what all good pedagogues would hope and desire.

Susan Davis and Brian Edmiston
Central Queensland University & The Ohio State University
s.davis@cqu.edu.au, edmiston.1@osu.edu


Enciso, P. (2011). Storytelling in critical
literacy pedagogy: Removing the walls between immigrant and non-immigrant
youth. In H. Janks & V. Vasquez (Eds.) Special Issue: Critical Literacy
Revisited: Writing as Critique for English Teaching: Practice and
Critique, 10, 1, 21-40.
Heathcote, D. (1984). Collected writings
on education and drama. L. Johnson & C. O¹Neill (Eds.). Melbourne:
D. (2002). Contexts for active learning -
Four models to forge links between schooling and society. Paper presented
at the NATD Annual Conference, Birmingham.
Medina, C. & Campano, G. (2006). Performing
Identities through Drama and Teatro Practices in Multilingual Classrooms.
Language Arts, 83 (4), 332-341.
Turner, Victor (1974). Dramas, Fields, and
Metaphors: Symbolic Action in Human Society. Ithaca/London: Cornell
O¹Connor, P. & Anderson, M. (2015). Applied Theatre Research: Radical
London: Bloomsbury Methuen Drama.
O¹Neill, C.
(2014) Power-sharing: Teacher power and student choices. in P. Bowell, P &
Lawrence (Eds), Heathcote Reconsidered -
Conference Echoes (ebook), London: National Drama, 13-31

On 29/02/2016 7:49 am, "Dr. Ana Marjanovic-Shane" <anamshane@gmail.com>

>Dear Sue,
>I am looking forward to your feedback and critique.
>> On Feb 28, 2016, at 4:00 PM, Susan Davis <s.davis@cqu.edu.au> wrote:
>> Hi all,
>> Thank you Larry, Helen and Ana for your comments.
>> Helen - always lovely to find out who else is out there exploring the
>> possibilities of working with the arts to bring about transformative
>> learning and Larry I really like that proposition that in drama the
>> premise begins with ŒI can¹ and then moves to ŒI think¹.  That is very
>> much the case with drama, and sometimes children/participants are very
>> nervous or uncertain when they begin a drama process, often because they
>> begin from a position of ŒI can¹t¹ but through the acts of doing they
>> begin to see that they in fact can do and become.
>> Ana I would agree with the first part of your statement about drama in
>> education being used to help socialise students into socially recognised
>> valuable practices and would think that was a good thing given research
>> that shows reductions in empathy in young people in recent times.  I
>> concerns with the rest of your proposition and the sweeping nature of
>> critique. 
>> A colleague and I have been preparing a short response to your article
>> I will check with him to see if he is happy for me to post it here.
>> I would of course be happy to hear other Œdialogue¹ as well.
>> Kind regards
>> Sue
>> On 29/02/2016 2:35 am, "Ana Marjanovic-Shane" <anamshane@gmail.com
>><mailto:anamshane@gmail.com>> wrote:
>>> Dear all,
>>> Thanks for starting this thread about drama in education. I recently
>>> published a paper that takes a critical stance toward Heathcote's
>>>drama in
>>> education approach and other approaches to education that are based on
>>> some form of drama, play and/or improv - *"Spoilsport" in Drama in
>>> education vs dialogic pedagogy*.
>>> To play a "spoilsport" myself, in this paper, I claim that Drama in
>>> Education belongs to an educational paradigm that is mainly based on
>>> socialization of students into the socially recognized valuable
>>> values and understanding of the world, which are heavily based on
>>> agreement, collaboration and following of the authority, without
>>> having legitimate rights and a possibilities to critically disagree,
>>> provide different points of view and question the existing social
>>> practices, values and ways of understanding the world. In other words,
>>> this educational paradigm - students' disenssus, critical approach to
>>> testing different ideas, views, desires, values, etc. is actively
>>> suppressed, or at best limited, curbed and restricted.
>>> In the paper I provide a detailed analysis of (a part of) the same
>>> posted here earlier - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=owKiUO99qrw.
>>> is the abstract of my paper. If interested - you can get it at Dialogic
>>> Pedagogy Journal website -
>>> http://dpj.pitt.edu/ojs/index.php/dpj1/article/view/151
>>> So, what do you think?
>>> Ana
>>> ____ ____ ____ ____ ____
>>> "Spoilsport" in Drama in education vs dialogic pedagogy
>>> Abstract
>>> In this paper two educational paradigms that both attempt to overcome
>>> alienation often experienced by students in the conventional education.
>>> These two educational paradigms are embodied in different educational
>>> practices: First, Drama in Education in its widest definition, is
>>>based on
>>> the Vygotskian views that human cognitive, semantic (meaning-making),
>>> social-emotional development happens in or through play and/or
>>> imagination,
>>> thus within the imagined worlds. Second, Critical Ontological Dialogic
>>> Pedagogy, is based in the Bakhtin inspired approach to critical
>>> among the ³consciousnesses of equal rights² (Bakhtin, 1999), where
>>> education is assumed to be a practice of examination of the world, the
>>> others and the self. I reveal implicit and explicit conceptual
>>> similarities
>>> and differences between these two educational paradigms regarding their
>>> understanding the nature of learning; social values that they promote;
>>> group dynamics, social relationships and the position of learners¹
>>> subjectivity. I aim to uncover the role and legitimacy of the learners¹
>>> disagreement with the positions of others, their dissensus with the
>>> educational events and settings, and the relationships of power within
>>> social organization of educational communities in these two diverse
>>> educational approaches. I explore the legitimacy of dissensus in these
>>> educational approaches regarding both the participants¹ critical
>>> examination of the curriculum, and in regard to promoting the
>>> participants¹
>>> agency and its transformations. In spite of important similarities
>>> the educational practices arranged by these two paradigms, the
>>>analysis of
>>> their differences points to the paradigmatically opposing views on
>>> development, learning and education. Although both Drama in Education
>>> Dialogic Pedagogy claim to deeply, fully and ontologically engage the
>>> learners in the process of education, they do it for different purposes
>>> and
>>> with diametrically opposite ways of treating the students and their
>>> relationship to the world, each other and their own developing selves.
>>> <http://dpj.pitt.edu/ojs/index.php/dpj1/article/view/151

Dr Susan Davis 
Senior Lecturer | School of Education & the Arts | Higher Education
CQUniversity Australia, Noosa Campus |
PO Box 1128, Qld 4566
P +61 (0)7 5440 7007 | X 547007 | M +61 418 763 428
L https://www.linkedin.com/in/suedavisnoosa
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