We've had a fairly intense three days going through the degree programme with a tooth comb trying to understand where things are working well and where there is room for improvement. It's been a time for hard talk and a little cross examination but, as a team, we really only get the chance to sit down and speak openly about the programme once a year. It's certainly worth doing -even if we don't always like what we hear. We know that Drama St Marys looks great on paper. This is our chance to check we're as elegant in practice.
What is pleasing is that in general the new degree has been seen as a positive development and all of us seem absolutely committed to strengthening the links between the modules. Our frustration is that sometimes it takes a while for the craft skills taught in the practical classes to embed and often the productions and assessments fail to demonstrate the learning we hope is happening. We clearly want to find further ways to make the lessons effective and meaningful and the last three days have been peppered with innovative ideas as well as tough questions.
Of course there's a clear difference between teaching and learning and much of the work we do must be to sow the seeds that will inspire a lifelong engagement with intellectual enquiry and, with a bit of luck, the theatre itself. Our job needs to be as much about providing a provocation for students to respond to, as it is about training them for potential employment. If we fail to do so students quickly lose motivation and eventually fail to reach the high proessional standards we all hope for. University work is always a partnership between the lecturers and their students and it doesn't hurt to check that our offering is attractive, stimulating and concrete.
Meanwhile some great news from Patrick about the Community Theatre Centre in Lilongwe that we're working, with Theatre for a Change , to buy. Comic Relief have agreed to supply £40,000 (about half of our total goal.) This gives us a real incentive to find the rest before we take our first cohort of students out to Malawi next May.
Tfac have also produced a beautiful animated film to raise awareness of the links between gender equality and HIV reduction. It's called Mofanana you can watch it HERE