Mantle with adults – a learning story

We don’t see too many examples of Mantle used with adult learners – we tend to assume it’s for teaching young people – after all, doesn’t the imagination ‘fade’ as we get older and don’t adults tend to feel bashful and unwilling to buy in to the ‘pretend’ or ‘make believe’…? Well …… not always! It’s a pleasure to share this learning story from a course I facilitated recently through Tātai Angitu e3 @ Massey  for a group of five officials from the Ministry of Education in Bangladesh. The objective was to spend two weeks learning about the New Zealand Education system, with a particular focus on project management at secondary school level.

The learning story shared here covers only part of the two weeks: I have edited out pages on field trips to schools and sessions where we learned about the NZ education system: they are not directly mantle-related and I don’t have permission to share images etc.  However, I do have permission from the group to share these pages recording our time as “Hidden Treasures” – International project management consults.

It wasn’t perfect planning or teaching on my part (is it ever?) but I do believe the use of Mantle as a pedagogy allowed these visitors to draw on their rich existing knowledge of project management (far more extensive than their facilitator’s) and make real-world links through the fictional context of the Mantle. There was strong buy-in and a real willingness to work in role. Participants readily employed drama conventions and adopted multiple perspectives despite this being a new way of working for them. There were plenty of intense discussions arising from tensions in the drama and opportunities for writing and reading of complex texts – all carried out in English as a second language.  And there were some profound moments of reflection, particularly on the last day where the team represented the impacts of their fictional project on the stakeholders. Here are the words of appeal from a community member on the fictional island, as spoken by one member of the group standing in effigy: I hold out my hands like a scale – to remind you to please balance the realities of your work with the quality of your documents and planning. This is my environment, my land, my culture – my future I am handing to you…”

The Learning story was written as we went along as an ongoing record of our learning and a place to double check and consolidate understanding of the ‘worlds’ we were operating in. It’s shared as a google slide show via the link below. Please don’t distribute or share more widely without permission – thanks!

My thanks to Sayed, Majibur, Minhaj, Nazmul and Rizwanul for permission to use their images and words and for providing such clear evidence of adults’ willingness and ability to learn through dramatic inquiry.


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