Archive | Conferences & Symposia

Speaking truth to power

This short clip is something rather special. It was captured at the recent Te Aho Tapu symposium, in Hamilton (October 2016) and shows the climax of a teaching demonstration by Prof Peter O’Connor and a group of young people from Rototuna Junior High School. Peter and the children worked together over two sessions exploring ideas and moments from John Marsden’s Home and Away – a quality picture book about the experience of young children caught up in conflict and taken to a refugee camp.

The children were ‘distanced’ from the material by taking on a variety of roles and perspectives. Here we see them in role as advocates for Toby – a five year old boy whose application for entry  is being considered by the Minister for Immigration (Peter in role). See how Peter uses his high status position  to pose complex questions, model elevated language and press for commitment… and see how he trusts the silence – and the children. And look how well the children listen to each other, appeal for empathy and reach for poetic language to express their views… Some of the children said afterwards they were so absorbed in the moment they forgot about the circle of onlookers. Some also reflected how this experience had made them want to learn more about refugees and reach out to refugee families in their own community. Powerful stuff!

Thanks to Miguel Garcia who shot the footage and to Peter and the children for permission to share it here.

Click here for video


Photos from Te aho Tapu


Here’s an album of photos from the Te Aho Tapu Symposium held in Hamilton in October. Huge thanks to everyone who was involved in this fantastic event including the presenters, organisers, student helpers and children.


A full list of presentations is included on the ‘research’ page of the Mantle Aoteroa website.

The symposium was a wonderful opportunity to connect and reconnect with like-minded educators from around the country and share ideas, stories, tips and new research. I have received several emails from participants saying they went home feeling re-inspired in their practice … that’s great to hear!

Photo credits: Viv Aitken and Miguel Garcia


Heathcote Reconsidered

Here’s a brief report about the Heathcote Reconsidered conference held in Greenwich, London from 4-7 July. You might also like to check out the video clip of John O’Toole’s keynote address (given in role as Dr Phil. E. Stein). I haven’t been able to upload the clip directly, but you can see it on our facebook page  here 

The conference was really great. It was held at the old Maritime college, Greenwich – extremely beautiful buildings right on the Thames. Having volunteered to present twice I  didn’t get to see as many papers or workshops as I might have – but there was plenty that was interesting. A real stand out presentation for me was Brian Heap’s taxonomy of the 50 ways Heathcote uses TIME in process drama planning. This is going to be a really useful list and I’m going to ask Brian if I can share it with you. Erika P presented some really smart thinking about authenticity in drama teaching. I loved Brian Edmiston’s workshop on dialogue in teaching: he’s such a good facilitator and his theorising of drama through positioning theory is groundbreaking stuff. I also really enjoyed watching Iona Towler-Evans and David Allen – two experienced mantle practitioners as they worked with teachers on establishing procedures for MOTE. Helen Cahill did a thought provoking session on abstract conventions (definitely going to change the way I work) and there were wonderful keynotes from David Booth and Cecily O’Neill as well. Last but not least, Sue Davis and her team shared the results of an online “rolling role” project in which students from around the globe participated in a series of inter-related drama activities based on a common starting point. Very profound and moving. I’m going to see whether Sue will let us link to her video  – meanwhile you can read a bit about the project by clicking here 

Quite apart from the academic side – and the social events – it was lovely to finally get the chance to meet Dorothy Heathcote’s daughter, Marianne and family and to see the special photos and objects they had brought to share (including Dorothy’s MBE). All in all a fantastic experience and I’m enormously grateful to Pam Bowell and the University of Waikato for supporting me to attend.


Te Kore Conference. Did you get an email?

Hello colleagues.

I have just sent out an email to everyone who is registered for Te Kore – The Drama NZ conference. The title of the email was ‘Information for delegates and presenters’. If you did not receive one it means that either:

1. You’ve yet to register (come on – there’s still time!)

2. You’ve registered but I haven’t got your email address (in which case please contact me)

3. I’ve got your email address but there was a typo in it. This is possible what with the perils of databases. I did have a few messages ‘bounce back’…

So please, if you are in any of the above categories, could you get in touch asap.

Viva – on behalf of the exhausted but proud conference team

P.P.S. Enjoy the last week of term…


Book launch at Te Kore Conference

This new book may be of interest. To be launched at the Drama New Zealand Te Kore Conference on Saturday 27th April.

Published by NZCER, Connecting Curriculum, Linking Learning by Fraser, Aitken and Whyte is a collection of case studies describing Arts-based integration in primary schools. There is a strong emphasis on Mantle of the Expert – as used by teachers new to the approach. There is also a chapter introducing Mantle of the Expert and describing how the core elements of fiction, company, client, commission etc work together to support learning.



Waikato Cluster meeting on Thursday and conference not far behind!

Greetings! A friendly reminder of two things: Thursday 11th April is our next cluster meeting – 4.30 pm at Hillcrest Normal School. All most welcome… The focus will be on use of Heathcote’s role conventions…. Also a reminder that if you have not already done so, now is the time to get your registration in for Te Kore – the Drama NZ national conference, 26-28 April at University of Waikato. The conference is three days of fantastic presentations and workshops on drama including a number specifically related to Mantle of the Expert. Process drama expert Pam Bowell is one of the keynotes. It’s a great opportunity and very reasonably priced – with special deals for students and day registrations also available  Click here to download registration form


$500 available to help teachers attend Drama NZ conference

Did you know that Drama NZ is offering two $500 scholarships to support teachers to attend conference this year? One scholarship is for a beginning teacher, the other is for a teacher from a rural school. The $500 will go a long way towards covering fees and accommodation.  Interested? Check out the drama NZ website for more information or email

Te Kore – Drama NZ’s national conference for 2013 will be held at Waikato University 26-28 April. The conference suits primary, intermediate and secondary teachers and a number of presentations and workshops will be specifically devoted to Mantle of the Expert.


Call for papers and presenters – Drama NZ conference 2013

Check out the attached flyer which invites expressions of interest in presenting at the Drama NZ conference, which will be held in April 2013 at the University of Waikato.

This would be a great opportunity for teachers who have worked in Mantle of the Expert to share their discoveries, challenges, tips and so on. It is hoped there will be a strong ‘thread’ of Mantle of the Expert related presentations at this event…. So a good one to enrol on as a delegate too…!)




IDIERI 7: The New Zealand Papers

The University of Waikato, in association with Drama NZ and IDIERI (The international Drama in Education Research Institute) have combined to bring you IDIERI 7: THE NZ PAPERS on 28th November, 2012

This is an opportunity to hear current researchers in Drama Education in New Zealand presenting on their projects. Two of these specifically relate to Mantle of the Expert.

All are welcome to attend this day-long seminar. It will be of particular interest to those currently engaged in, or thinking about postgraduate study. Some refreshments will be provided.

To register please contact Carrie Swanson – address is shown on attached flyer.

IDIERI7 NZ flyer


Colloquium presentation on Mantle research

This week’s University of Waikato Colloquium (Friday 1st June) may be of interest.

Viv is presenting on research methods developed during research in classrooms using Mantle of the Expert. In particular, the presentation looks at the use of researcher-in-role….(a bit like teacher in role, but for the purposes of gathering data!)

Details are shown on the screen shot below – or go to university website for more…

All welcome.