Mantle of the Expert: the Versatility of Dorothy Heathcote’s Dramatic-inquiry Approach to Teaching and Learning


In the 1980s, Prof. Dorothy Heathcote MBE (1926-2011) developed the 'Mantle of the Expert' approach (MoE) during her work at the University of Newcastle. The basic concept of MoE is that children study the school curriculum as if they were a group of experts: they can be scientists in a laboratory, archaeologists digging out a tomb, a rescue team during a natural disaster, and so on. Together with the teacher they create a fictional world in which they are cast as a team of experts working for an (imaginary) client who gives them a commission.
In addition to a strong sense of ownership and intrinsic motivation, Bob Selderslaghs proved during research at the Royal Conservatoire (AP University College) in Antwerp, that MoE also develops artistic competencies in children. During a PhD project, he is currently investigating how MoE can be used not only as a drama-in-education tool, but also as an education-in-drama method, in order to create a healthier balance between process and product in Arts Education. Selderslaghs also participates in the research project ART4DEM in which MoE is used in primary and secondary schools to educate citizenship. Because of the different points of view in MoE, and because of Heathcote's ingenious system in which every action can be brought back to the value system of the person involved, there are strong indications that MoE can not only develop knowledge and skills, but also important attitudes children so desperately need now in order to be able to reclaim their future.

Author Information
Bob Selderslaghs, Royal Conservatoire (AP University College) & University of Antwerp, Belgium

Paper Information
Conference: ECAH2019
Stream: Arts - Teaching and Learning the Arts

This paper is part of the ECAH2019 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon