What’s In A Drama-Based Integrated Curriculum?

I looked to validate the decade of breakthroughs made by performing and visual artists working together with both the full palette of subjects and capabilities in a mandated curriculum.

This is my longest sphere of investigation, spurred on by the historical fact that I was part of a generation of secondary school educators in the late 1970s and early 1980s who were employed as ‘drama teachers’. To give this historical fact more significance, I only have to remember that my first presentation at an international conference for drama education in 1981 included Ken Robinson, who had just completed his doctorate at the University of London. By then he had also produced Learning Through Drama: Report of the Schools Council Drama Teaching (1977), the result of a three-year national development project for the UK Schools Council. 

I’ve mostly loved the byways and cul-de-sacs I travelled in drama education. However, I didn’t enjoy the compartmentalisation of subjects in secondary schools. The watershed moment came for me between 1995 and 2002, when participating in the writing team for the Arts Learning Area Statement in the Western Australia’s new Curriculum Framework. The time included writing my doctorate in theatre history, four textbooks and numerous advice papers for the Curriculum Council of WA (now School Curriculum & Standards Authority). The sum total of my learnings provoked me to fund and set up a curriculum experiment between 2002 and 2008 of hundreds of projects, exploring the value of creative learning for teaching and learning multimodal literacies and philosophical ‘high order’ thinking.

By 2009, while living in London UK, Drama Learning was born through my understanding of sociologist Erving Goffman’s dramaturgical metaphor for organisational structures. I coined the term for myself working as a digital dramaturge, interested in the unique framework of online professional training for creative practitioners, in schools and community settings. From there, I looked to validate the decade of breakthroughs made by performing and visual artists working together with both the full palette of subjects and capabilities in a mandated curriculum. This included the researchers at the tertiary level who worked with cognitive scientists and linguists. The result of my investigations was the re-writing of my teaching programs into bite-sized resources, powerfully focused on enabling creative learning online.