We're all watching

8th February 2008 at 00:00
DramaSometimes, we get stuck in our ways, but why some teachers are scared to introduce popular culture into their classrooms is beyond me.

My reality television scheme met with moans and groans when I discussed it with colleagues. Most saw it as "trash culture", but it is what the pupils said they wanted in a series of workshops.

Teaching popular culture is often frowned upon, but when teachers embrace it in schemes of work, it can be a refreshing way to renew pupils' interest in drama, especially if it is topical. For this reason, I usually choose to teach my scheme of work in the summer term to coincide with the running of Big Brother.

I was determined to make the scheme have substance by linking it to the drama objectives in the key stage 3 literacy strategy. There was also a focus on teaching specific drama techniques and skills each lesson, such as physical theatre and character development.

Pupils began with taking on and developing their "Little Sister contestant" roles, filling in application forms in role and undergoing gruelling interviews. They designed their own house and created the "jacuzzi room" and "toilets" with their bodies alone. After undertaking tasks, creating conflicts and reflecting on their "best bits" - using still images and documentary theatre - pupils completed their Big Brother experience with the all important vote. The whole scheme was then written up.

It is up to the individual to decide how to teach physical theatre and character development skills, but this dynamic and self-evolving project will ensure pupils are thoroughly immersed

Jo Morrell is a drama teacher at Fulwood High School and Arts College, Preston.

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