Waikato Journal of Education
Journal cover


Language learning
drama strategies


For some time drama in education has been recognised as a powerful catalyst for learning. To a somewhat lesser, but growing extent, it has come to be used as a fine- edged tool for learning within specific areas, such as literacy, second language learning, history and for developing rich understandings of issues such as cultural difference, marginalisation, restorative justice.

This presentation reports and theorises recent work in which the creative and open-ended potentialities of work in drama are purposefully combined with fine scrupled strategies in order to develop both functional and critical literacy and citizenship.

As well as on the work of drama education theorists and practitioners we draw on the work of Gee (2012) who points out that, cross-nationally, literacy education has three possible aims: the development of skills that are needed for compliance with the social and economic expectations of the state; facilitation of ability to develop tools for economic growth; facilitation of ability to shape new knowledge. Within the neo-liberal agendas that guide most of our western education systems, it is the first two goals that are. The teaching of literacy, thus, while intending to be libratory, often remains a tool for social construction. 


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