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Teaching Philosophy

“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire. “

William Butler Yeats

Inspirational and effective facilitation of learning forms the corner stone of my teaching philosophy. 

True learning can only take place when an appropriate environment conducive to discovery and understanding is created, and where passion for the subject matter can be ignited by appreciating the scope and significance of its relevance to the wider world.   This environment needs to be rich in substance, free of the influences of dogma, challenging enough to trigger curiosity, and supportive of growth.  Under these circumstances, the learner develops an ownership of his or her own education and is therefore liberated from the restrictive and, quite often, crippling bonds of prescriptive values.  Throughout my career as an educator it has been my aim to guide the students through a process of professional and personal development that not only renders them as highly skilled performers, but will enable them to have an original, creative and individual voice in the industry. 

This ethos requires a training approach that is sharply focused in content and structure, yet confidently accommodating and organic in its delivery.   To safeguard the integrity of the learning outcomes and to ensure effectiveness, the students must, at the very beginning, be introduced to a process of enquiry into the means of learning.  Critical faculties should be stimulated and curiosity encouraged.  It is vital that the terms of interaction are established and a sense of mutual respect with in the classroom is created.  This professional and social contract can forge a constructive relationship in which discoveries can be shared and lead to further exploration.  It is only then that the true potential of classroom activities can be realized.

In my  position as Director of the Acting Programme at Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts, I lead a dedicated team in developing a cutting edge, innovative and socially inclusive curriculum that combines the strengths of traditional drama training but transcends its limitations to encourage wider participation.  We worked in response to our collective belief that the study of Theatre and Performance requires a clear understanding of the fundamentals of both the craft and the art of acting; one without the other results in artistic frustration and inability to gain professional work. In view of this, my approach to teaching has been structured to ensure that the students are exposed to a sequence of learning opportunities through which they can develop their natural abilities by acquiring necessary physical, imaginative and intellectual skills.

One of my particular areas of concentration has been in the teaching of Approach to Text and Text into Performance.  I have developed a syllabus that allows the students to find their own creative voice whilst addressing the specific stylistic demands of a variety of material.  In Approach to Text Classes this has involved an analysis of anachronistic interpretations in the context of individual and cultural associations and/or limitations.  My ethos in these classes has been to encourage students to trust the text, avoid impositions and engage in a process of mining and synthesis that may allow the text to reveal itself.  Classes in Text into Performance have focused on the practicalities of bringing text to life.  Development of the ability to integrate voice, movement and the connection with the truth and to make discoveries - both in mid-action and on reflection - has been at the core of these sessions.  My primary aim has been to provide an atmosphere that may give students the ability to fully engage in the process, to openly receive, and to be courageous enough to respond intuitively, spontaneously and imaginatively in performance.

It is evident that sustaining a successful career in the Theatre requires skill, creativity and, most importantly, a spirit of collaboration.  Rigidly subscribing to one methodology can therefore present obstacles in such a varied and ever changing profession.  Theatre is a multi faceted art form which has always been in a state of constant development and change.  I have been very proactive in keeping abreast of these developments by maintaining a direct link with current practice and research.  This of course has enabled me to expand, enrich and revitalizes the work in class and at rehearsals.  Although, the genesis of my approach is rooted in Stanislavsky’s later work, I have always based my teaching on acknowledging the contributions of many major practitioners.  Methodologies are, after all, simply choices of particular artistic cultures and a response to the textual demands and/or social and political climate in which they are inextricably bound

My assessment and evaluation methods are both formative and summative as complementary systems that can pinpoint specific areas requiring further attention and improvement. I find assessment of students’ work to be a highly effective teaching tool and not to be treated as merely a ‘judgment call’.  Students’ self-evaluation and honest assessment of their personal resources is also of paramount importance. Their ability to identify means of applying these resources to enhance the quality of their work should become an integral part of their process.  Periodic reviews of my own teaching and assessment methods have resulted in constant modifications and have been instrumental in keeping my work fresh and rewarding.  This is a model I regularly share with students to emphasize the relevance and absolute necessity of critical reflection on practice as a means for growth and pursuit of excellence.

Assisting the development of confidently skilled, intellectually curious, and inventive professional artists, who are capable of engaging in an inclusive approach to theatre, are precepts that underpin my work.

Teaching Philosophy: Experience
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