Pedagogical learnings of Borat for make benefit glorious community of drama teachers: What teachers can learn from Borat about frame, position and power when working in role.
Aitken, V. (2008). Pedagogical learnings of Borat for make benefit glorious community of drama teachers: What teachers can learn from Borat about frame, position and power when working in role. New Zealand Journal of Research in Performing Arts and Education Research: Nga Mahi a Rehia.
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/3378
One of the most exciting strategies available to teachers of drama and indeed any learning area is that of ‘teacher-in-role’. When a teacher takes on a fictional role within the socially real classroom, she reframes reality and repositions herself in relation to the children in the class (Aitken, 2007). To ensure that children are as empowered as possible within the transformed relationship – and for significant aesthetic and ethical reasons too – many teachers stress the importance of ‘signalling’ their transition in and out of role and making the ‘frame’ of the drama explicit (O’Toole, 2002; Edmiston, 2003). However, some resort to unsignalled role in the belief that the lesson will be somehow ‘better’ if participants misframe what is happening as real life events rather than as ‘just’ a drama. This paper critiques this attitude by drawing parallels with Baron Cohen’s controversial ‘mockumentary’ Borat, which could be described as a sustained exercise in unsignalled ‘filmmaker-in-role’. While Cohen operates in the medium of film rather than classroom drama, and while his objectives are not pedagogical, the movie highlights crucial questions about ethics, aesthetics and power that resonate for anyone using unsignalled role, including teachers. This paper addresses some of these questions, including: ‘Is it acceptable to manipulate people into ‘misframing’ a fictional role for your own purposes?’ ‘What difference does it make if the objective is educational?’ and ‘What if the unwitting participants are children?’
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