What is Theatre of Learning ?
Theatre of learning is an active, experiential method of teaching which I developed
slowly over a number of years in response to pupil disaffection and poor examination
My attempt to make my lessons more engaging, easier to understand and remember for
an examination, resulted , I discovered, in pupils’ becoming engaged emotionally
in the experiences I was creating in the classroom..
I realised as I read their work and listened to what they said that these methods
were developing their own spirituality and enabling them to empathise with people
very different from themselves, whether it be members of another tradition, or people
who were suffering in some way.
Pupil behaviour and motivation was transformed, along with their examination results
as they enjoyed, remembered and understood lessons where they saw and touched artefacts
, ate special food to recall festivals and celebrations and experienced powerful
emotions, often enhanced by music, as they listened to stories and visualisations
within multi sensory sets, representing the religious tradition or moral issue
they were studying .
These activities are now supported by a five point learning model which I use
with trainees and teachers to show how experiential learning can be used to improve
the quality and depth of written work and consequently improved examination results
After an article about it was published in the TES. In June 2000, “Centre stage in
the Theatre of learning “ ,I began to receive requests to demonstrate this way of
teaching to other teachers .
In reflecting about what I was doing and why it was so effective, I developed a pedagogy
of what are now seven basic techniques which can be applied to any age range and
any programme of study.
After writing five teacher resource files of “lesson recipes” to cover each of the
major world religions. I began to apply the techniques to Citizenship and Values
education . “Teaching Tolerance “ and “Teaching Human Rights “ were written with
my husband Neil, a lecturer in philosophy. We have also worked on material to promote
and encourage democracy and political awareness in young people and in particular
to encourage a positive response to the role of the European Union. We are currently
working on an active, experiential approach to philosophy and ethics designed to
provide the academic background for non specialists and practical lesson ideas
to be used with pupils.
This website offers “free stuff”. This consists of papers and articles I have written
which are a useful introduction to the techniques for research students and student
teachers . They contain many references to stories and ideas which should be
enough to get you started in the classroom. There are many lesson ideas for PSE and
“Becoming a PSE facilitator for the first time” and “The PSE tool kit “ will help
you get started on circle work, deal with saboteurs and build the relationships
with your classes which are so essential for a positive learning environment ,
where children need to feel safe enough to really think about issues and feel safe
enough take part in discussion. Relationships are especially important when
using experiential work
Articles can be found in “RE Today “ “The International Journal of Children’s Spirituality”
and in book two of the “International Handbook of the Religious , Moral and Spiritual
Dimensions of Education” published by Springer in 2006. This a useful handbook for
anyone researching aspects of Religious and moral education and is a collection of
articles from scholars interested n the spiritual dimensions of RE.
You can also download a list of the basic techniques and suggestions for music.
You could also look up “In the mood” an article by me on the use of music published
by the TES some years ago. Possibly 2003. There are suggestions for active techniques
There are currently three books which are available from me by e mail. At £10 each.
£3 of which goes to charity £5.50 with reclaimed tax. They deal with poverty,
refugees and moral issues. Click on that section for details and to receive samples.
Calendar of courses
I put on courses regularly in Bognor Regis. I also present at venues around the
country in response to invitations, especially to PGCE students . It may be possible
for you to attend one of these at a University near you .Contact me for details.