Learning To Teach Drama 11-18

Author(s) Kempe A. & Nicholson H.
Publisher Continuum
Published 2003 (reprinted)
Price 16.99
ISBN 0826448410
Reviewed by Dr Christine Bold
Liverpool Hope University
Review published 24 January 2007

Please note that there is a newly published, thoroughly revised 2nd edition now available.

The target audience for this book ranges from young people considering training to become a drama teacher or students in training. The book provides guidance about applying for initial teacher training courses, the type of information to seek when exploring different higher education programmes and guidance for interview preparation. The book provides clear advice on lesson observation, shadowing teachers and/or pupils. Readers also learn how to gather and organise evidence of their progression over the period of training.

A whole chapter outlines subject knowledge requirements and teaching methods. It clarifies national requirements and explores links between drama and other subjects. In subsequent chapters, readers learn how to plan lessons, manage the drama classroom and assess pupils’ performance. Most important is the chapter on student-mentor relationships. The book outlines professional responsibilities and considers professional development needs after initial training.

A good feature of the book is its readability but the lack of academic referencing within the text and lack of critical debate about issues reduces its usefulness for academic aspects of a training programme. Considering the book focuses on education it seems strange that it adopts an alternative style of referencing than Harvard since most initial teacher training institutions adopt this. However, the referencing does become clear with notes and page references at the end of each chapter with a clear reference list at the end of the book. In addition, the authors list further reading and references to useful websites (which might be out of date). Another very useful feature exists in the task sections where readers may reflect on a range of situations relevant to the development of professional practice. In particular, useful case-studies illustrate realistic scenarios for the reader.

As a non-specialist, (my background is science, technology and mathematics) with an interest in drama and role-play across the curriculum, I found the book rather dry in its presentation and would have expected to see photographs of practical situations to illustrate the learning and teaching points made. The content is sound and provides a trainee and recently qualified teacher with relevant information, although it might require some updating to reflect the most recent initiatives in schools. The book fails to provide a critical level of academic discussion required for the final year of teacher training, when students might undertake a specialist subject study with drama as a focus. It is therefore more useful as a supplementary rather than a core text and as there seem to be few similar texts on the market, it is likely to find its way onto library shelves.