A ‘Metaxical’ approach for drama teachers?

In my last blog I outlined some of the potential problems that an Ofsted driven agenda is posing for teachers in the UK. Further to this I pointed out that the governmental created ‘performance’ illusion is forcing schools, and their teachers, to perform in particular ways. So how might we move forward?

In order to break this governmental illusion I believe that teachers need to develop their metaxis. From practice of drama in education the duality of my professional context has become apparent. My role within the University institution is to both teach potential drama teachers about drama whilst using the drama form as a method of teaching. This ‘metaxis’ enables a view of both ‘worlds’ and the lens with which to comment upon the two. For Boal (1995: 43-44) ‘metaxis’ is the state of belonging completely and simultaneously to two different worlds that are autonomous… “the oppressed must forget the real world which was the origin of the image and play with the image itself in its artistic embodiment.” In this sense the ‘rules’ of the teaching profession are understood, whilst exploring and testing them. Trainee drama teachers can be taught about drama skills, conventions, theatre history, practitioners, plays and genres whilst developing their understanding of how their role might fit into a school curriculum or the wider educational situation. For authentic drama education to take place drama teachers should engage with critical consideration of both how they teach and why they are teaching.

Alternatively, for Bolton (1995:11), who is no relation might I add, metaxis is ‘the power of the experiences’ that ‘stem from fully recognising that one is in two social contexts at the same time’, and this is evidence of developing ‘new facets of the self’. Therefore, to guard against the performance of education, drama teachers might engage with exploring their place in two social contexts. As a result I believe that one way to change the system is to change it from within and that teachers are facing an educational and cultural choice.

Neelands (2002:122) predicted this ‘cultural choice’ that we now face in British education positing that schooling should be ‘designed to feed, nurture, guide and fulfil the humanising and compassionate potential of the imagination’. The alienation of teachers also feeds into the students that they teach leading to an ‘impoverished and limited sense of ‘self’ and ‘other’. This means that learners are often struggling to understand the world they are in when, the ruling classes come along and tell them what they should be doing, learning, thinking. Neelands calls for a ‘humanising curriculum’. Consequently, Neelands (2002:119) makes the point that “Policy makers have tried to persuade parents, commerce and the powerful constituencies that the greatest challenge we face is not the need to address new cultural, work and career identities, new economies based on communication rather than manufacturing, endemic poverty and the creation of disaffected underclasses. No, the real challenge is falling literacy test scores.”

So in order to move forward perhaps teachers need to learn the rules, how to jump through the hoops and then return to ‘real’ teaching once the spectre of inspections and judgement moves on.

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