Jerash: A. M. Qattan Foundation concludes Edition 12 of the Summer School: Drama in a Learning Context
On Thursday, 9 August 2018, events of the 2018 Summer School: Drama in a Learning Context were concluded. For the 12th year in a row, the Summer School has been organised by the Educational Research and Development Programme (ERDP) / A. M. Qattan Foundation (AMQF) in the Jordanian city of Jerash, This year’s edition of the Summer School was held in partnership with the Al Balad Theatre, Madrasati Palestine Initiative and Amman National School. In addition to teaching staff members from Palestine, Britain and Greece, 111 male and female teachers from Palestine, Jordan, Egypt and Sudan participated in the 2018 Summer School.
Running for 10 days, the Summer School events were launched on 29 July 2018. Activities included a variety of courses, which introduced a theoretical background and practice in process drama, mantle of the expert and aesthetics of drama. Events also included an evening session on creating a role on stage, moderated by Eid Aziz. Ra’fat As’ad held another technical session on mask making. Clash, a drama film by Mohamed Diab, was screened. The film events take place in a police transport vehicle with Egyptian protestors cramped inside.
“To see our teachers working in several countries inspires hope and pride,” Wasim Al-Kurdi, ERDP Director, said. Al-Kurdi highlighted the successes scored by those teachers who had participated in the Summer School and held workshops on drama around the world. The Summer School has been in session for 12 years. Over this lifetime, it has managed to enable teachers to contribute to rebuilding power relations within the education system, allowing students to be partners in the learning process. Assisted by teachers, the ERDP now seeks to develop a future perception of the Summer School so that it can step up to a new level of work on its vision, content and approach. The school will also consolidate the drama programme across the Arab world by creating partnerships with teachers and educational institutions.
At the Summer School, participants are divided into three levels: The beginner level is initiated in the first year and the advanced level in the second. In the third year, students receive a certificate in Drama in a Learning Context. Graduates of the Summer School also participate in a coaching session, where they attend other courses and conduct research in pursuit of the learning process.
The ERDP has developed the coaching session to provide a cultural and pedagogical initiative, which contributes to bolstering bonds between retired and new teachers through a dialogue programme. The coaching session also contributes to developing, reflecting on, evaluating and criticising educational plans and applications.
In this context, Safa’ Badarneh, a teacher and participant in the coaching session, said that this experience transformed her from a teacher to a reflective critic and researcher in drama and classroom activity. Over a period of 10 days, Safa’ was an effective actor and observer in courses with second-year students. Finally, she wrote a research paper, including her own reflections. Safa’ believes that this experience will reflect on her vision of her students at school as well. It taught her that she, as a teacher, might sometimes unintentionally exclude one of her students because she does not allow adequate opportunities to students for engagement or take account of their special needs.
Reham Aziz, a second-year Egyptian participant, said that this year was different from the previous one. After the first-year foundation course, Reham came back with many questions and with a desire to broaden her experience in drama. She stated: “I look forward to returning to Egypt now, collecting all the notes I took down, and having my own experience and experiment. This comes with a great responsibility to deal with and transform this knowledge into clearly defined outputs in my work.”
The teaching staff of the 2018 Summer School included Al-Kurdi, Malik Al-Remawi, Vivian Tannous and Motasem Atrash from Palestine; Kostas Ameropolos from Greece; and Maggie Halson and Tim Taylor from the United Kingdom.
At the Summer School, the learning process is not limited to course hours. Participants also build on their experiences by engaging in a dialogue both among themselves and with AMQF teachers and researchers. They discuss the plans they intend to implement with their students and share their reflections on these plans.
It is worth noting that seven teachers from the Gaza Strip managed to join the 2018 Summer School courses following years of denial due to restrictions placed by the Israeli occupying authorities on the movement of Gazans. While some managed to attend a significant part of courses, other teachers arrived at the school just two days before it was concluded. The Israeli occupying authorities prevented 10 teachers from leaving Gaza at the time of enrolment for courses.