Painting the soul : a process of empowering special needs educators.
Hemming, Eve Caroline.
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Based on theories from Applied Drama, Dramatherapy and Psychology, this thesis explores the application of applied drama workshops with a group of educators at a school for children with barriers to learning, with a view to not only enhance their personal and professional development, but to facilitate positive outcomes for the children whom they teach, due to their implementation of various applied drama techniques into their teaching programmes. The theoretical focus of this thesis was drawn from theorists including Carl Rogers, regarding the Humanistic approach and Emunah regarding the creative methodology, amongst others, which contributed to the establishment of a practical methodology that provided a process of self- discovery and empowerment through the applied drama workshops. (Emunah, 1994). With Participatory Action Research as the primary research methodology, the thesis used applied drama workshops, classroom application of various techniques, journal entries, questionnaires and interviews for data collection. The longitudinal nature of this exploration took place over a period of eighteen months, with the group being comprised of special needs’ educators. The research found that the workshops were highly successful as the catalyst for positive change in the participants, encouraging sharing and reflection previously suppressed in their professional setting, thus provoking personal growth and empowerment. Furthermore, professional growth and new explorations in their teaching methodology positively materialised. The group gained greater understanding about themselves, one another and the children they were teaching as the workshops heightened their perceptions. Consequently the participants generally became more tolerant and empathic of one another and towards the children. The children in the participating educators’ classes participated enthusiastically, and developed in their socialisation and selfconfidence. Their communication skills improved and they externalised their inner feelings more readily. The participating educators did not highlight any negatives regarding applied drama as a medium in the school. If anything, as the researcher, I was overwhelmed that the results were unanimously so positive, with not a single participant reporting that they felt that its implementation had not been beneficial. The research project thus reportedly had a constructive outcome for all those who either participated or were directly influenced by the project.