The Mantle Network has held a number of training events over the years, with leading figures in the field of drama in education, including Dorothy Heathcote, Cecily O’Neill, Eileen Pennington, Luke Abbott, Tim Taylor and Brian Edmiston. On these pages, we present an account of these events, together with videos.
The film Memories of Dorothy Heathcote was made by Zak Hamza. It was compiled as a tribute to her after her death in 2011; and it shows highlights of a two-day event which Dorothy led in 2010 at Newman University. The curriculum focus was on the Cherokee "Trail of Tears." Dorothy invented a fictional “commission” from the Cherokee Museum in Oklahoma, to a group of young people in the UK, to help create displays that would get visitors to really “look behind” the meaning of objects.
Dorothy devised a series of tasks, based around the book, The Journal of Jesse Smoke by Joseph Bruchac, a fictional “diary” of a young boy who took part in the Cherokee “Trail of Tears” (when the Cherokees were forced to leave their homeland).
First, teachers at the event prepared some materials which they could use in the classroom, to introduce the book to a class of children. They took copies of extracts from the book, and made them look like historical documents.
The idea was that the “ageing” of these “diary” fragments would be intriguing for a class of children, and make them “search the reading”, and try to reassemble the extracts as a narrative – “to say, ‘That must come before that...’... So they don’t know they’re reading it…”. The teachers then annotated the “diary entries” so it would look as if an archivist had been studying them, and highlighting significant details with notes such as, “Reference here to Cherokee mounted police. Query: are they Cherokee people, or imported by the white man?”
As Dorothy observed, “an archivist’s comments teach the children much more than the diary itself”.
Subsequently, Dorothy herself took on the role of an archivist from the museum, who was arriving in the UK - and attempting to bring these precious historical documents (the annotated Jesse Smoke diary) through UK customs… She also took participants through an exercise in “Levels of Deepening Engagement”; and “Chamber Theatre” work on extracts from the Jesse Smoke diary. You can find out more about the Cherokee Museum event - including an extended video - here.
This section was created as part of our Erasmus Plus project on the Commission Model of Education