About the Education Program
Western Edge’s Education program combines excellence in Arts Education with innovative Community Arts initiatives run in partnership with schools.
Internationally there is a growing recognition and understanding of the importance of arts education as a powerful medium for generating new learning and deep understanding. There is a key role for professional artists to work in partnership with schools to generate new and innovative practice. The work of the Education program of Western Edge is based on sophisticated pedagogic processes that engage young people and explore complex ideas. Our process is drama-based but incorporates dance, song, creative writing/poetry, digital media and visual arts. There is an emphasis on developing complex, layered narratives that explore challenging content and young people’s ownership of the work so they control their own learning.
Recent programs have explored the following curricular content: Australian history, Roman history, Homer’s Iliad, Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Hamlet, King Lear and Romeo and Juliet, environmental education about climate change, African folk stories, an exploration of global poverty, Rapa Nui – an investigation of culture and environment, the Stolen Generations, East Timor, The Tampa Affair, work based on Ursula Le-Guin’s classic Earthsea books, refugee stories based on young people’s experiences and young people’s devised, fictional stories.
We use high quality literary texts – e.g. Shakespeare, Homer, Brecht – to give young people access to some of the foundational stories of their culture. We use folk stories from many cultures to generate inter-cultural learning with an emphasis on Moral Education. We integrate literacy into our work helping young people generate their own high quality poetic writing. The use of sophisticated Documentary Theatre approaches enables us to explore information-rich content in new ways.
Collaborative Partnerships with Schools
Western Edge’s Education program is based on close collaborations with teachers. Teachers co-plan projects and work alongside teacher-artists to deliver them. They extend the work by integrating the project themes across domains developing holistic learning. Using this approach teachers and artists learn from each other developing new approaches.
Performance Linking Schools and Communities.
Western Edge delivers high quality public performances embracing strong production values. Almost all Western Edge projects lead to public performances that celebrate young people’s achievement and engage and educate school communities. Out of school programs, involving young people who have left school, connect schools to a wider community audience.
Western Edge makes extensive use of peer education in which older youths work alongside teachers and artists to deliver projects, acting as strong role models. Some projects focus on personal and social learning and empower young people to deal with exclusion and bullying. Western Edge programs are strongly inclusive of young people with special educational needs.
Staff, Resources and Professional Development
The Education program is directed by Dave Kelman and run by a team of highly experienced and talented teacher-artists. It also provides opportunities for young emerging artists from culturally diverse backgrounds to work alongside experienced artists.
The Education program has an extensive archive of play scripts and research reports that give an insight into our work, and are available for schools to use. We also run professional development programs in the use of drama for non-specialists and using role play/ forum theatre approaches to explore emotional intelligence and positive approaches to student behavioural management.
Publications available to download (by clicking on their titles):
Reaching Hearts (2009): A major research report analysing the learning outcomes of an Arts Victoria Extended Schools Residency at Tate St. Primary School in Geelong.
The Government Project (2008): Report analysing an innovative Arts Education project that took place at Kensington Primary School between April and August 2008. As part of the fulfilment of the VELS Civics and Citizenship Domain, the project dramatised stories in which major far-reaching decisions were made by Australian governments impacting on both Australians and people overseas.
The Polar Bear Roars (2007): A report into the use of drama to explore environmental themes at Kensington Primary School.