Starting Drama Teaching.
David Fulton 2003
20.99 [pounds sterling] 168pp
Starting Drama Teaching was first published in 1994, and this edition builds on the premise of the first with the addition of more practical ideas and schemes of work for the KS2, KS3 and KS4 drama classroom. This premise is a detailed analysis of the theory of drama teaching, which is then applied to a range of practical examples for use in the primary and secondary classroom.
The book is divided into ten chapters, each with a focus on one particular area of drama theory and teaching including 'Drama within the National Curriculum framework', 'Planning Lessons and Schemes of Work', 'Starting Drama', 'Techniques and Conventions', 'Approaches to Texts', 'Progression and Assessment'. Within each chapter there are some practical examples of drama at work such as examples of particular lessons or short thematic units. These are used to demonstrate the different aims, approaches and teaching outcomes that can be derived depending on the teacher's starting point and theoretical approach.
In terms of theoretical approach, the recurrent theme of 'starting drama' is the tension between 'drama as process' and 'drama as product'. The introduction 'Balancing Perspectives' provides a very detailed explanation of the history of drama teaching in the curriculum since the 1950s, citing some of the most well-known practitioners including Gavin Bolton and Dorothy Heathcote--even I'd heard of them. In the introduction, Mike Fleming provides a very thorough grounding in this essential difference in approach, looking at the relative merits and pitfalls of process/product.
I have to say that I had a mixed response to this book. What I really liked about it was the way it put into words a good deal of the concerns and practical problems I have experienced myself in the drama classroom; in this way it was extremely reassuring. It provides an extremely detailed and thorough theoretical insight into why drama can be such an issue for not just the teacher but the school, and I found the clarification of the relative merits of learning through drama and learning about drama to be particularly powerful. There was a part of me wishing I'd read this book years ago. However, as a young, inexperienced drama teacher, I wonder whether I would have found it useful. The style is, albeit knowledgeable and detailed, rather dense--you have to work hard at this book. I kept going because it was interesting to me, but then I've been teaching drama for twenty years and have read lots of the theory Fleming uses. As the introduction explains, books about drama teaching which aim to simply provide examples of lessons and resources can be limited in scope; I totally agree but would issue a word of warning; this is more a book about the theory of teaching drama than a practical handbook. Worth a read though.