Speaking and Listening Through Drama, 7–11


Francis Prendiville & Nigel Toye

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  • Chapters
  • Front Matter
  • Back Matter
  • Subject Index
  • Part One: How to Approach Speaking and Listening through Drama

    Part Two: The Dramas

  • Copyright

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    To Vivien and Sue, our respective partners, who have not only supported us through the ups and downs of writing books, but contributed valuable ideas and healthy criticism from their own considerable professional experience



    • to our colleague, Denise Evans, who has supported our work and contributed inestimably
    • to all the students we have worked with at St Martins College in Lancaster and Ambleside, particularly the students of 2005–6
    • to Gavin Bolton for reading the work and writing the Foreword and particularly as he and Dorothy Heathcote led the way
    • to Hilary Cooper, Tony Martin, Steve Moss and Tessa Blair for reading, supporting, and giving unfailing good advice
    • to all our colleagues and particularly Cecily O'Neill and Alan Lambert for allowing use of drama ideas that arose from work of theirs
    • to Kathy Joyce, Joe Winston, Jonothan Neelands, John Rainer and other drama practitioners who have influenced us
    • to all pupils and staffs who worked on these dramas with us, particularly Broad Oak School, Manchester, Hornby St Margaret's School, Lancashire and Parkinson Lane School, Halifax, who allowed considerable videotaping of work and use of photographs
    • to Ambleside Primary School and Westgate School, Morecambe for supporting our work and the work of our students over some years
    • to all staff in St Martins College, departmental and support staff, who have given us practical help and support
    • to Robin Alexander for permission to use ideas from his work on dialogical teaching
    • to Barnardo's for permission to use the Edward Fitzgerald photograph
    • to Cumbria Record Office, Kendal, for kind permission to use the Workhouse Rules (ref. WD/Cu/78)
    • to QCA, HMSO, Ofsted and the DfES for permissions to quote from their publications
    • to Helen Fairlie for excellent editorial help in shaping up the book.


    GavinBoltonReaderEmeritusUniversity of Durham

    At last! – a book on ‘speaking and listening’ that guides teachers into ways of enriching communication in the classroom. There is now a general recognition among teachers that in spite of the good intentions behind the inclusion of speaking and listening within curriculum skills, the normal culture of the classroom is such that any practice in these skills is limited by the narrowness and rigidity of that very culture: teachers use the language of the teacher in the classroom and listen to their pupils from their position of authority; and, in turn, the pupils respond in their role as ‘pupils’ and, if they listen to each other, they are attending as one ‘pupil’ to another ‘pupil’, their roles defined and confined. An analysis of the language used in the classroom would inevitably reveal a mixture of teacher ‘instructing or questioning’ and pupil ‘answering’. This is not the best context for expanding ‘speaking and listening’ skills.

    Francis Prendiville and Nigel Toye offer a way of moving outside this culture, a way that frees children into temporarily breaking with their narrow ‘pupil’ role, into more challenging levels of thinking, talking and attending. Prendiville and Toye are lecturers at St Martins College in Lancaster. For many years they have trained teachers, basing that training on classroom practice. This publication is derived from first-hand experience of teaching primary school children. What they offer is well tested; you can tell they know what they are talking about as they share with you the variety of ways in which drama can promote skills and learning.

    Drama! The very word, with its theatrical associations, may put you off. But this is ‘classroom drama’, rooted in education, remote from stages and actor skills. This is not about ‘casting parts’, ‘dressing up’ ‘play-acting’ or ‘learning lines’. This is about signalling an alternative context within which children may learn. In the authors’ methodology the teacher, having set the ‘frame’ within which the drama is to take place, invites the children to take over the responsibility for creating their own drama within the parameters of that frame. But the children are not to ‘play parts’, for they are required, collectively, to take on a social role, as peasants, scientists, servants, historians, advisers, etc., and to discover the spoken language that fits the fictitious context and their role within it. The authors outline for the reader an amazingly wide range of themes drawn from lessons that have already been tried out in classrooms.

    There is a central ingredient, the explanation of which takes up the major part of the book, distinguishing this kind of educational drama. Teachers do not merely explain what the context is to be. They themselves take on a role. Thus the class are no longer listening to ‘teacher instructions’, for they find themselves attending to a dialogue that steps over into fiction, endows them with their role and invites them to step with the teacher into this parallel world.

    The authors successfully undertake two major teaching tasks:

    • How a teacher should set about playing a role and, just as important, how to use ‘coming out of role’ effectively.
    • How to plan a drama session in a way that allows sufficient space for pupil ownership.

    Their considerable experience of helping others to teach guarantees the effectiveness of these chapters. I believe any teacher or trainee teacher could learn from these pages and feel comfortable trying out the authors’ carefully laid out instructions.

    We are given instances of remarkable uses of language expressed by children once they have stepped confidently into the fiction. The teacher-pupil relationship is temporarily replaced by a different culture, from Hans Christian Andersen to Macbeth, from a Victorian workhouse to The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. But of course the achievements by the pupils stretch beyond Speaking and Listening to engaging with a range of subjects from the curriculum – there is a most informative chapter on the teaching of History and the link with Citizenship, for instance – and to matters of cooperation, motivation, empathy, responsibility, stimulation for reading and writing. It is the latter, writing, that can give support to the evidence needed by a teacher in assessing Speaking and Listening skills, for it is now accepted that the experience of creating new dialogue seems automatically, even with less literate children, to motivate towards writing, as if children, excited by their discovery of an alternative world, feel the need to continue to express it in another form.

    This book will inspire those of you who have never thought of using drama in your classrooms. The guidelines offered here, opening a new door that could raise the level of achievement of your pupils in many directions, are mapped out very clearly in a way that is protective of both pupil and teacher. For those of you with more experience of using this art form, you will find that Francis Prendiville and Nigel Toye have reshaped, sharpened and refreshed our thinking about the classroom practice of drama.

  • References

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