Author Archive | Viv Aitken

Dorothy Heathcote awarded MBE

Exciting news today – the much admired inventor of the MOTE system, Dorothy Heathcote, has had her contributions to education honoured with the awarding of an MBE. Here’s what the British drama society said about Heathcote’s contribution to education and children’s lives – hear hear from here!

During a career spanning more than 60 years, her seminal work in the field of drama education has had a global impact on the way in which drama, theatre and the curriculum are perceived. The practice of the many thousands of teachers who have been touched by Dorothy’s ways of working has be profoundly changed and the learning experiences of many thousands of children have been immeasurably enhanced.

I will be sending congratulations to Dorothy on behalf of NZ MOTE practitioners. If you would like to include a personal message, either email me  or post a comment to this post.


Jonathon Neelands – space in our hearts

I love this article from Jonathon Neelands. Written very shortly after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, Neelands makes a very rational and yet passionately argued case for drama as part of a rethink of curriculum ‘basics’. Much here of direct relevance to MOTE in NZ.

I’ve just been reading some of my students’ responses to this article, and it encouraged me to share it here!

Neelands space in our hearts


MOTE in the English classroom

Received this email from Esther at Auckland Girl’s Grammar – she’s been bravely trying some drama strategies she learned in the IFTE conference workshop within her Secondary English classroom. Well done Esther – sounds like you are taking some risks and creating rich learning experiences for the students!
Great to see the collaboration between teachers within the school too – we need more of this at secondary!

Just to let you know, that with some nervous excitement, we are both trying out some techniques we learnt from you!  Fortunately, we have also had the help of our school drama teacher  to help guide us.

So far I have got my Year 9 English class to become a team of investigative journalists following up on a story animal cruelty and a strange rebellion on Manor Farm [aka Animal Farm] – where I ended up impersonating the drunken Mr Jones languishing at the Red Lion pub as they interrogated me!
This week I am getting my Year 12 English class to become a Trauma team  who are going to work with a family where domestic violence and murder have occurred (from the novel ‘Purple Hibiscus’) and interview then prepare psychological assessments of each character for a meeting with a lawyer.
Before the year is out I would like to think about how I can apply MoTE to my low stream class and my Art History class too.
Its all very scary and I feel like a first year teacher all over again but it is reinvigorating my teaching and certainly impacting student engagement in my classroom. Many thanks for providing the inspiration in your workshop that ignited this professional growth!
Best wishes
Esther Graham
Auckland Girls’  Grammar School.

Drama workshops in Hamilton

Drama for learning lies right at the heart of MOTE and your teaching will be all the stronger for an understanding of how to work in role,  how to work with tension, how to pose questions and how to structure classroom experiences using the conventions of dramatic action. All these skills will be explored in a short series of workshops coming up in Hamilton in the next few weeks.

The series (co-hosted by the University of Waikato and drama NZ) is called ‘revisiting the classics’ and consists of three published process dramas presented by three experienced practitioners – Trevor Sharp, Elizabeth Anderson and Peter O’Connor.

The series starts SOON – in fact next week (20th May, 27th May, 3rd July) with each workshop running from 5-7.30pm.

With costs kept deliberately affordable – $25 per session or $60 for all three sessions this is quality professional development at a great price. Find out more on the attached flier and email Viv on to reserve your space – filling up fast!

revisiting the classics flier


Flier for Waikato MOTE papers


People interested in studying MOTE at Waikato university may be interested in this flier advertising forthcoming papers for 2012.

Two papers are offered – one is an undergraduate paper for teaching students at university, the other is a postgraduate paper suitable for teachers with a degree. Photos of previous students in action are to be seen at the top of the flier!

Please note: the postgrad paper is only offered every few years. In 2012 it will be held as a summer school in late Jan: one week’s intensive classes (held at Tauranga campus) followed by online study and work in your own classroom.



Next cluster meeting in Waikato

The Waikato cluster group will be holding its next meeting on Thursday 19th May at Hillcrest Normal School (Cambridge road, Hamilton) Start time: 4pm.

The focus for this get together will be a presentation by PhD student Carrie Swanson. Carrie will be sharing the planning she has done for for a science-based MOTE written for senior primary students based around the extreme weather events of the Wahine disaster. A nice opportunity to hear about Mantle of the Expert planning principles  used to explore a NZ historical theme.

All are welcome to attend – bring a plate!


Message from Luke Abbott

Received this message of support from Luke Abbott in the UK. Thanks Luke for the words of encouragement!

Dear all in New Zealand,
I have had a tour of the site-what a great contribution you will make
to the global understanding of the system. We know the work involved
in putting a site together as Tim Taylor will tell. I just wanted to
leave a message to say how brilliant this is for the whole community
of mantle of the expert users and we will keep delving into your
researches. Finally I hope we can meet up again to work through the
conundrums of the system and help as many teachers as possible take
advantage of the gifts given gratis by Dr Dorothy Heathcote.
Let the journey of 1000 miles begin!

Luke Abbott


MOTE features at IFTE and DNZ conferences

It was great to see the interest in MOTE at two recent education conferences held in Auckland over the Easter break.

A workshop held at the IFTE conference Much Ado About English (held at University of Auckland business school) attracted a group of specialist Secondary English teachers. Most were new to MOTE and attended the workshop because of an interest in integration and drama as pedagogy.

There was also a positive response from delegates at the Drama NZ conference Unplugged held this week at St Kentigern college.

On Wednesday I gave a presentation called “Everything Links to Everything Doesn’t it?” This offered some insights into the TLRI-funded research project Connecting Learning, Connecting Curriculum and the work being done with MOTE within the project.

I also ended up presenting on the Friday because unfortunately, Kathleen W and Georgie D were unable to present their workshop “Let’s talk about Mantle”. On their invitation, I took the opportunity to re-visit the Othello work I had done with the English teachers the week before. I think it went rather well!

I promised to share the planning model from the conference workshops – it’s a work in progress but may be of interest. Follow this link PLANNING PREZI


Mantle of the Expert – Welcome


Haere Mai, Haere Mai, Haere Mai! WELCOME!

This website is for teachers in Aotearoa New Zealand interested in Dorothy Heathcote’s dramatic inquiry approach to teaching and learning:


  • Find out more about Mantle of the Expertmantle of ex titanic 005
  • Keep up with the latest news
  • Connect with others in your area for face-to-face meetings and support
  • Access and share resources for planning in your classroom
  • Read blogs from NZ teachers using MOTE in their classrooms (see ‘links’ on right)
  • Find information about workshops & courses in MOTE and related fields
  • Link to international online material related to MOTE

Using this website and resources

TGA cluster august 14

Tauranga Cluster Aug 14

The design of the site is kept as simple as possible: the best way to find your way around is to use a ‘search’ for key terms – or you can use the ‘menu’ tabs (across the top of this page) or click on something of interest in the list of  ‘categories’ on the right.

Stay up to date by subscribing to our regular email updates (top right)

Please read ‘site protocol‘ before posting on this site