Friday, 15 March 2013

War Horse workshop, National Theatre

Is this man brave, or what? Give him a medal as big as a dustbin lid, and make it gold. He deserves it.

He leads a group of home ed kids with 48 broom handles and 12 balloons, says think about it, then shows how to combine those inanimate objects, give them life, and make a horse trot, gallop, quietly graze, and startle at noise.

A brilliant demonstration of War Horse puppetry, thanks to National Theatre Education.

And this, people, shows the difference. It's why your Key Stage workshop delivered by an edutainments officer sucks, and why a workshop given by a practitioner succeeds.

Someone who knows their subject inside out, is passionate about it, has explored their subject intellectually, practically, emotionally, and who wakes up in the morning having dreamed of it - let them communicate it to kids. Leave these inspiring people to express themselves, explain their ideas, demonstrate their reasoning, and show their approach, and the workshop is inevitably a triumph. We are forever changed to look at broom handles and balloons with a new and quiet awe.

Think on this, you education workshop makers. Don't define your session in terms of which National Curriculum attainment targets you can meet, then pass the delivery of the hours to the edutainments teaching staff, people who you chose because they are trained to shrink-wrap the workshop in leak-proof sealed plastic, deliver the subject they know only about in theory, then afterwards collect in the broken pencils and the defeated, dispirited souls.

Applause indeed for the National.

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