Heathcote’s practice-led teaching: Pioneering research as well as pioneering pedagogy

Haseman, Bradley C. (2014) Heathcote’s practice-led teaching: Pioneering research as well as pioneering pedagogy. Drama Research, 5(1).

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It is widely recognized that Dorothy Heathcote was a dynamic and radical teacher who transformed and continually reinvented drama teaching. She did this by allowing her emerging thinking and understandings to flow from, and be tested by, regular and intensive ‘practicing’ in the classroom. In this way theoretical claims were grounded and evidenced in authentic classroom practice. And yet, for all her impact, it is rare to hear the claim that Heathcote’s pedagogic breakthroughs resulted from a legitimate research methodology. Clever and charismatic teaching yes; research no. One of the world’s best teachers certainly, but not a researcher; even though every lesson was experimental and every classroom was a site for discovery.

This paper investigates that conundrum firstly by acknowledging that Heathcote’s practice-led teaching approach to discovery did not map comfortably on to the established educational research traditions of the day. It argues that traditional research methodologies, with their well-established protocols and methods, could not understand or embrace a research process which does its work by creating ‘fictional realities’ of openness, allegory and uncertainty.

In recent years however it can be seen that Heathcote’s practice led-teaching, so essential for advancing the field, closely aligns with what many contemporary researchers are now calling practice-led research or practice as research or, in many Nordic countries, artistic research. A form of performative research, practice-led research has not emerged from the field of education but rather from the creative arts. Seeking to develop ways of researching creative practice which is deeply sympathetic and respectful of that practice, artist-researchers have developed practice-led research “which is initiated in practice, where questions, problems, challenges are identified and formed by the needs of practice and practitioners” (Grey, 1996). This sits comfortably with Heathcote’s classroom priority of “discovering by trial, error and testing; using available materials with respect for their nature, and being guided by this appreciation of their potential” (Heathcote, 1967).

The paper will conclude by testing the dynamics of Heathcote’s practice-led teaching against the six conditions of practice-led research (Haseman&Mafe, 2011), a testing which will allow for a re-interpretation and re-housing of Dorothy Heathcote’s classroom-based teaching methodology as a form of performative research in its own right.

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ID Code: 83798
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Dorothy Heathcote, practice-led teaching, pedagogy, practice-led research, HERN
ISSN: 2040-2228
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN CREATIVE ARTS AND WRITING (190000) > PERFORMING ARTS AND CREATIVE WRITING (190400)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN CREATIVE ARTS AND WRITING (190000) > OTHER STUDIES IN CREATIVE ARTS AND WRITING (190999) > Studies in the Creative Arts and Writing not elsewhere classified (199999)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Creative Industries Faculty
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2014 National Drama
Copyright Statement: This article was first published in Drama Research: international journal of drama in education Volume 5 No 1 April 2014 at: www.dramaresearch.co.uk
It is one of a wide range of articles on drama/theatre in education available by subscription to the journal at: http://www.nationaldrama.org.uk/journal/subscribe/
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Deposited On: 29 Apr 2015 00:00
Last Modified: 05 May 2015 21:48

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