Kana, P. & Aitken, V. (2007). “She didn’t ask me about my grandma”. Using process drama to explore issues of cultural exclusion and educational leadership. Journal of Educational Administration, 45(6), p. 697- 710.
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/1719
Purpose – This purpose of this paper is to describe a collaborative project from the University of Waikato, Hamilton New Zealand, in which the authors used process drama to engage final year teaching students with complex issues of cultural diversity, enabling them to “grow into” different kinds of leadership positions in an imagined educational setting. The paper describes the project and makes a case for process drama as a means of providing opportunities for leadership and as a potent tool for learning about issues of social justice. Design/methodology/approach – The drama was based on a fictional scenario described by Hall and Bishop, where a beginner teacher (of European descent) unwittingly diminishes the experiences of Maori and other non-European children in her class. Using a three-phase process planning model and with facilitators in role alongside the students, the drama explored the scenario from all points of view. Students were encouraged to build empathy for the beginner teacher and for the children and also to explore the dilemma faced by the teacher's tutor in deciding whether, and how, to confront the teacher on the issue. Findings – Through the drama, students built a sense of empathy for all sides of the issue and engaged in deep thinking about the experience of cultural exclusion. The safety and distance provided by the drama “frame” spurred students to take leadership roles and “stand up” for issues of social justice. The authors suggest that through such dramas students gain skills and perspectives that they may carry into their professional lives. Research limitations/implications – The paper describes a small project, over one lesson with a specific group of students. More research is needed into the effectiveness of process drama as a sustained strategy for teacher education. Originality/value – This scenario explored in the drama has currency in Aotearoa New Zealand, where the population is increasingly culturally diverse, where underachievement of Maori students continues to be of concern, and where research has shown the centrality of teacher-student relations in raising educational achievement for Maori. The authors believe this paper makes a compelling case for the value of drama as a tool for student teachers to encounter social justice issues in a meaningful way, and suggest that the paper is a valuable contribution to more than one discipline, as it straddles the fields of professional practice and drama as pedagogy.
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