Planting Seeds in the Garden of EDEN
I suppose you could say we felt like we were in Paradise when we were involved in ELT and Drama,
a project launched by the British Council two years ago to explore the use of drama methodology in
the English classroom. Whatever the explanation, with the end of the British Council involvement in
the project, our group has created a body called EDEN - the English Drama Education Network.
In the fall, EDEN plans to function under the umbrella of the ATECR, becoming the Association's
first "Special Interest Group" (known as a SIG).
Thirty-five English teachers and teacher trainers from throughout the Czech Republic participated
in the British Council drama project. In addition to training sessions with drama experts from
the Czech Republic and the UK, we have been working on projects that explore ways to make drama
methodology relevant to the English classroom. Outcomes during this project include numerous
lesson plans and year-long course curricula that could be valuable models for others. Now network
is ready to share this with others and expand.
We are excited that we will be the pioneering
SIG of the ATECR. This collaboration should be beneficial on both ends. From our point of view,
we will be able to publicize our activities and experience to all members of the association through
regular articles in the newsletter and participation in conference. The ATECR, in turn, will
gain new members from our own current Network. In addition, perhaps in the future others will decide to form SIGs, so more special interests will have another forum for discussion and networking.
Our main aim is to promote drama in the English classroom. The principle of drama is to build a trusting environment in which students are unafraid to communicate and create; we believe that this is a principle that holds for the language classroom as well. Through the network, we will have workshops, conferences, and other programs that bring members together to provide a forum for sharing ideas as well as gaining additional training in drama.
A short-term goal is to ensure the longevity of the network. We have elected a steering committee for the year 2001/2002, which will oversee activities and the organisation as a whole. The members and positions for the next year are Dominika Adamová (Publicity), Máša Pešková (Correspondence), Eva Duspivová (Web page), David Fisher (Events Coordinator), Lucie Podroužková (Fund-raising), and Pavla Fejfarová (Treasurer and ATECR liaison). Members of the network will oversee individual activities and will also help the steering committee.
Membership is open to anyone who belongs to the ATECR.
Activities for the year 2001/2002
In August 2001, EDEN will have an organisational meeting run by the newly elected steering committee. We will plan the following activities for the 2001/2002 academic year:
- Presentation at the conference in Zlín
- Participation in "Dedicated to Drama" International Meeting in Slovakia (see below)
- A weekend training session on drama in the classroom scheduled for November 2001
- A mini-conference on Drama in April 2002
- Regional "Drama Days" during which teachers and their students spend Saturdays participating in workshops run by drama leaders, creating short performances.
While activities will be open to all teachers, members of EDEN will get reduced rates.
There is quite a high level of interest in drama and English in our neighbouring countries. Both Slovakia and Poland also have Drama SIGs that are part of their own Association of English Teachers. Both countries have membership of over 100 teachers and are highly active, with theatre festivals, drama newsletters and training workshops. In September, the Slovak Drama SIG will be running an international meeting called "Dedicated to Drama." The meeting is supported by ELTeCS, and will include thirty people from European countries who are developing drama in ELT. We hope that this and other events will lead to more regional networking.
We have tried to keep our goals for the upcoming year modest so that we can work on building our own organisational structure now that we are independent of the British Council. However, as the network grows, so will the number and the scope of the projects and activities. We encourage anyone who is interested in our events and would like to join us in a drama paradise; please contact Máša Pešková.
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