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Dorothy Heathcote talks about Mantle

This video was recorded in 1997. In it, Dorothy discusses a project for schools called "What's In Store." She explains the thinking behind the project – and behind the Mantle of the Expert system in general; as well as offering advice to teachers who are interested in trying it in their own classroom. She says:

I think the greatest comfort I could give anybody, is say: “Start it for ten minutes. Just do something, to get the beginning of the store for ten minutes. Then go back to your ordinary lessons for a bit, you know – the rest of the day. And then do twenty minutes. ... But let yourself be saved by the bell. So you don’t have to say, "Actually, this is a mess, I can’t deal with it." … I think that is very important. Time yourself, pace yourself. And gradually move forward, as you feel confident. But you’ll never feel confident if you doubt the system.

The "What In Store" project was produced by Dudley LEA. It was designed to address the issue of drug education. The children were in the frame of people running a fictional “community store.” The issue of drug education was introduced through a teacher-in-role, who explained that she had been experiencing problems with her son, and wanted the store’s help to raise awareness of some of the dangers and problems associated with drugs.

The interview with Dorothy was conducted by Iona Towler Evans, and filmed by Dave Hughes, for the “What’s in Store?” Teachers Pack (Dudley LEA). This is the raw "uncut" footage.

The “Universal Schoolhouse”: “It's revolutionary, and it’s fearsome”

In the "What's In Store" interview, Dorothy discusses John Moffett’s definition of different styles of learning. Writing in his book The Universal Schoolhouse, Moffett observed how much people learn “simply from interacting with other people and the environment. Witnessing, attuning, imitating, helping, collaborating, and interacting occur so spontaneously, just as part of living, that we seldom think of these six basic learning activities as education.” Dorothy recognised that all these social, collaborative learning styles can be found in Mantle work. She gave some examples from "What's In Store?" This is what she said:

When a teacher listens to this, they should be able to review their classroom, and say: how often in the day are children learning that way?…

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How often do we learn by witnessing what something’s happening? ... We learn [for example] by witnessing how somebody else has done their writing for their store. And sometimes we learn because somebody says: “Witness this.” … Now children live in the real world, witnessing all the time. ... So of course, a teacher’s own behaviour constantly in drama is saying: “Witness - I'm behaving like I run this store with you.”


The second one is: attuning. How often do we learn from tuning in to how somebody else is thinking about something? You watch little children group together and say, “Oh yes!” ... So how often in your classroom - before you ever start any drama, look at how many of them are learning through attuning? ...

How often do we learn through imitating? How often have you set up a situation where people can imitate? If you make a plan that other people can copy, they’re imitating. They will imitate your behaviour on the telephone in the store; and you see them, all the time - they pick this up from each other....

Then: helping. How frequently, in a normal classroom, do we encourage – really, deeply encourage - children to help? Because we say, “Stop copying”, whereas one may be helping another child. … In this work, people are going to be helping all the time, because you're constantly interrupting and saying, “Hang on a minute, there's 15 package cases just come in.” And you're actually going to set up a “learning-to- help” situation for five minutes, collaborating on carrying big packing cases in fours. There are no packing cases, except in the head; but they’re there, and they’re heavy. Helping not to bump, and so on. You can set it up, anytime you want it. ...

What about collaborating? ... You can set it up, to collaborate. Interacting? I mean, drama is a gift for all these. Not just interacting with the teacher, not just interacting with each other, but interacting with objects. … In our worlds outside school, we're doing it all the time. All we’re doing is just bringing it in a little bit ...

Mantle, Dorothy insisted, 

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is what you want it to be. I'm not living in a dream world, you know, I'm living in a real classroom world. Admittedly, it's revolutionary, and it’s fearsome, isn't it? And yet the kids rise to it all the time…


The Moffett quote is from The Universal Schoolhouse: Spiritual Awakening Through Education, 1992: 161.]

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