07 April 2011

The reflective practitioner keeps learning

about 12 years ago
... as a master student, I wrote an essay for my assignment out of an interest in how distancing, metaxis and spectatorship in theatre bring about change...

about 5 years ago
... as an applied theatre practitioner, I started a Theatre-in-Education (TIE) at Oxfam Hong Kong employing participatory forms to engage teenagers in reflecting upon issues about urban poverty...

a year or so ago
... as a lecturer of a master programme, I wrote a paper on this TIE work, developing ideas from the theories I discussed in the assignment I wrote for my master study...

... the paper has been published in Applied Theatre Researcher (an on-line journal for free download), discussing notions of audience participation, aesthetic distance and change...


it's okay to make mistakes

I am indebted to Michael Balfour who encouraged me to write this article in the first place. We were co-teaching an applied theatre course in our master programme, and putting together a list of readings for the students. As we tried to incorporate applied theatre literature from as wide as possible a range of cultures and contexts, we found that it was hard to locate anything written about Hong Kong practice. Michael then suggested me to write one. I finally did; and Michael further encouraged me to try get it published somewhere. And I did.

John O'Toole, co-editor of ATR, said that he found the work "very honest". I told him that it was my deliberation to make explicit how we made mistakes in the TIE work. As the paper was written for my students in the first place, I was fully aware of how we have always reminded them to step out of their comfort zones and acknowledge it is okay to make mistakes as long as they learn something from the experience. So I thought it was a good idea to let them see, through the paper, that their teacher makes mistakes too, but learns a great deal by making rigorous reflections on her mistakes.

thanks for bringing me here

I am thankful to my students who have, through reading and discussing about the paper, reflected to me which parts of my writing have gaps and fall short of clarity.

I am also very thankful to the two reviewers of my article, who has given me usefully critical comments that give me excellent directions to go in its revision, considering questions I have not considered carefully enough.

And most of all, I am extremely grateful for the opportunity of having this years-long reflective journey with a wonderful project and a dedicated team of co-workers.

a journey in pursuit of meaningful learning

It is indeed a fascinating journey seeing how my interest in the topic has sustained all these years, and how my understanding of the theories has deepened all along and now become grounded in a real piece of practice.

And the inquisitive journey goes on – my current PhD study is yet another development from the TIE work and the notions of engagement and distancing, just that this time I am trying to look at it not from the audience's perspective but the TIE actors' – to see how they understand and manage their "multiple consciousness" (as teacher, actor and character) in participatory TIE work.

The reflective practitioner keeps learning… from the practical work of herself and others… and by maintaining dialogues with theoretical notions in the field.

Those who are interested in the development of ATR and the term "applied theatre" may find the editorial in this volumn an informing reader.

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