"Rules" of Rolling Role

So here are eleven fundamental laws that apply in this system. And it's nothing to do with how you would do it that, or I would do it. You don't have to do it like I would do it, but you will have to do it. They all matter very, very much. You can't avoid any of them. (Dorothy Heathcote)

These are the “rules” that Dorothy said apply in Rolling Role.


No one class owns the work

The first rule about Rolling Role is … : “No one class can ever own all the work.” Each teacher in the team has to realise they can all borrow from each other, and the classes somehow must be alerted to the fact that, “Somebody else will take this on, thank you for making it possible” - is the attitude.

Open and vulnerable to modification

The second thing is, that you see, everything that children make becomes open, and vulnerable for modification, therefore. They’ve to be supported in this.


The domains “seed” all work

The curriculum domains “seed all the lessons that are to come”.  

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All tasks have an affective element

The next thing is that all the tasks that you use in this sort of work, will have that affective zone. It has to matter; it's got to feel important; it's got to feel reasonable to be doing this. It's not just, “Now I'm going to tell you what it's like to be, you know, living in this city, or being a patient in this hospital.”

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You can't use transmission - the one-way transmission system. You've got to use something which catches people into thinking, “By [heck], I can't resist this, I must get on with it.” 


Tasks produce tangible results

… all tasks will produce some product. Now the product may be tangible like a piece of writing; the project may be tangible in that you've recorded a discussion; the product may be, half a stained glass window … and so on and so on. There's always a product. So when you think of task, you've to think of: “What can make the outcome from this task, so that another class can utilise that outcome?” And it may be just, you know, two jotted memories down on a scrap of paper; but you're looking for it all the time. And when you don't get it, there's a kind of gap that you’ve to drop that for a while, because there isn't anything to be recycled.

Tasks must serve both* curriculum intentions throughout. *Knowledge / Feeling.

The next thing is that the task must always serve the curriculum intentions throughout. The knowledge aspect of the curriculum intention – “This is the known knowledge about how rocks hold water”, or whatever you might need - and the feeling intention of the tasks. And therefore curriculum … is always fore-fronted. It's never, “What will I do today with them”; it's saying, “What will the curriculum demand of me to do today?” 

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Teacher becomes creative artist / inventor, not technician in designing tasks.


Tasks must carry “reasonable” element from student point of view

The next rule - and they’re all equally important, of course; I have to put them in some sort of order - that the tasks must always seem ever so reasonable for the children. You see, we have to face it, school is a totally artificial place. And it's very, very difficult to make it feel like, what we're doing here is so important, that it's as important as what you do when you're outside. A lot of kids stop bothering once they get into school. And they become teacher dependent. …

So when we set up his whole thing, it relates with [the question of] signing - that if it's “signed” to all be of a piece, it would seem reasonable to do that, then. And it never must make them feel foolish of course, which is easier said than done. 

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Teacher’s control of language

The next thing is, the teacher must - and this is something that obviously we never learn how to do perfectly - the teacher has to control the language, so they never do a one-way transmission job. They don't give orders, and they don't pump a load of information at people outside the circumstances [of the drama] in which they find themselves. So you can't suddenly go into “lecture” mode without permission, and a contract. …

The teacher’s control of language constantly makes it “now important,” and avoids the teacher telling stuff, where people switch off. But I'm not saying teachers don't provide information; they provide information all the time, and the best. 

Framing of class is paramount

The next thing is: if you want children to do tasks with an affective element in it, you’ve to give them a point of view from which they enter the situation.

“Keying” the “frame”

Now, this is really difficult - this is the hardest: how do you endow children very quickly, in “now” time, with not long explanations about how we're going to do it today … so that, from the very first beginning, you've “keyed” them in to what their power is in the situation. Now “keying” is the most risky of all the skills … Most teachers begin with instructions … They tend to say: “Now, what we'll do today is, we're going to have a such-and-such” - and they set up the scene, and it's very comfortable, and it reassures the children that things are going on as normal, and so on and so on. But “keying” is always in now time: you are in the circumstance [of the drama], empowering them to enter. 

Source: Rolling Role and the National Curriculum, Video series Tape 2 (University of Newcastle)

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This Teaching Guide to Rolling Role is under construction. The Home Page to the Rolling Role section is here.