Author Archive | Viv Aitken

New link to blog – Mantle at HNS

Viv has taken the technological bull by the horns and set up a new blog!

The purpose is to record the happenings as they unfold with a Mantle currently being run with Lynette’s class at Hillcrest Normal School. This is the third year Lynette has kindly let me and my student teachers work in her class and we thought it might be interesting for people to follow along as we plan, implement and discover together… Thanks to Irene, the school principal, and Gay, the DP for permission to share the work in this way.

You can visit the blog by going to ‘Links’

I will be updating the blog regularly and welcome your comments – and advice – either here or direct into the blog

If others are interested in starting their own blogs too please do – we can link them from this site as we have done with Priya’s wonderful example – To set yourself up I recommend ‘blogspot’ as very easy to use even for beginners like me!


Link to Priya’s Muritai Mantle blog

I have just added a permanent link to Priya Gain’s wonderfully rich blog site from Muritai School.

Priya has been employed as a specialist teacher providing MOTE based learning as part of an extension programme at the school. Her illustrated blog provides a fascinating insight into a number of successful NZ themed Mantle experiences with different groups at the primary level. Lots of inspiration here for beginners or more experienced practitioners.

You can visit Priya’s blog any time from the link shown on the main page. Or click here

It is well worth visiting and you can become a ‘follower’ to receive regular updates.

Thanks for sharing this with us Priya…


Another article of interest – Bolton

Bolton, Changes in thinking about drama Ed

For those who enjoy a bite of theory now and again, this article is an oldie but still a goodie. Gavin Bolton (who has done more than just about anyone else to bring Dorothy Heathcote’s work into classroom practice) wrote this article in the late eighties…. I revisited it the other day and found it as vital and useful as ever (though it is disturbing to note that 30 years on the picture Bolton paints of the uninformed teacher using ‘skits’ and meaningless ‘games’ to teach drama is still one that many of us would recognise today…)

In particular, I enjoy the way Bolton offers a categorization of how drama supports learning. Check out what he has to say about the four ways children learn in drama… He suggests that children learn through

1. metaxis (a dual awareness of the real and fictional worlds)

2. aesthetic and referential attention (appreciation of drama for its own sake – and as an illustration of real world issues)

3. Subsidiary awareness / unconscious awareness (the tacit learning that happens even if teachers or learners don’t notice it happening)

4. Natural or ‘common’ understanding (the stuff we already know, which is reframed and comes to be seen in a new way)

I rather like this elegant characterisation … How does it fit with YOUR understanding of how children learn in a drama / mantle of the expert setting….?



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!