The Power of Play: Ensemble pedagogy, playfulness and the creation of ‘3rd spaces’ in education
Jennifer Kitchen, PhD candidate in Arts Education, University of Warwick, UK
Workshop 2,5 hours
Part of the 2018 ATHENS GREECE INTERNATIONAL THEATRE/DRAMA & EDUCATION CONFERENCE
organised by the Hellenic Theatre/Drama & Education Network (TENet-Gr)
‘Ensemble pedagogy’ is an approach to teaching grounded in progressive education and collaborative theatre traditions, but applicable to a variety of education contexts. My Ph.D. research utilises socio-cultural theories of play to shed new light on the power of this approach.Through case studies of UK schools participating the Shakespeare Schools Foundation festival, I utilised critical social and discourse theories to explore how playfulness functions within ensemble pedagogy. Data analysis demonstrated playfulness was a central discursive device through which participants challenged normative regulations of the classroom; creating ‘3rd spaces’ in which new creative, educational and social possibilities opened up. In this workshop I seek to share and collaboratively consider some of the findings of this research which demonstrate how – via play – the social power of theatre education practices can move beyond a utopia to a pedagogic reality, and hence avoid ‘domestication’ within the increasingly audit-driven machine of normative western schooling. Taking the conference question of how can theatre as an expression of the principles of Critical Pedagogy, assist in raising awareness so that teachers, artists and students may develop collective cultural action and praxis for social change as my launching point, I invite participants to collaboratively explore the potential significance of play in their own research, teaching and learning contexts. Through a series of practical exercises and discussion tasks we will consider the power of playful ‘3rd spaces’ in education. In particular, the workshop asks how playfulness can engender egalitarian cooperation at a time of global conflict and individualistic neo-liberal values. The workshop is open to all teaching, research and artistic practitioners in the broadest sense, with the expectation of invigorating a new appreciation of the power of play within their practice and diverse contexts.
Jennifer Kitchen is a PhD candidate in Arts Education at The University of Warwick, UK. Her research, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) asks how socio-cultural theories of playfulness can be used to explore the processes of ensemble-based approaches to teaching Shakespeare. Her research was carried out with the national UK educational charity Shakespeare Schools Foundation. She has presented internationally on this topic, and in 2016 took part in an extended visiting scholarship to Emerson College, Boston USA. She has also taught and provided dissertation supervision on the Warwick Business School Masters in The Advanced Teaching of Shakespeare. Prior to beginning her doctorate she was a theatre education practitioner for several years, including a year’s residence with Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, and continues to practice on a freelance basis in areas relating to Shakespeare, storytelling and early years’ theatre education.