Does your school need an international cultural attache? Here’s how…

Could your school benefit from international links with teachers, pupils and families? Are you interested in exploring some unique professional development opportunities with teachers and other educators on the other side of the world?

Over the last two years, the Aspire Trust has organised international conferences for Principals and Head teachers from India, Nigeria and the UAE to visit UK schools. We ran the All Our Futures conference in Liverpool and Wallasey this summer for Indian, Nigerian and other international head teachers and educators. The success of that and similar events has led me to being invited by the University of Tasmania with a view to establishing a similar event there in either 2012 or 2013. The first step in that process will be between 25 November and 13 December this year when I will travel there to make initial contacts with the University and schools across Tasmania.

If you would like me to represent your school with a view to establishing some active, realistic links then I am able to offer you a number of services:

1. Taking promotional material to schools in Tasmania, complete with contact details, so that schools could contact you directly. I will be doing this for 12 English schools so your information would be viewed in this context. I would take 10 copies of your promotional pack which should be no more than 2 sides of A4 paper and one CD / DVD. Materials should be clearly labeled and packaged.

2. or, I could take a more active role in promoting your school by coming to see you, developing an action plan with you, and taking a more proactive role in promoting your school to the schools I visit. In this option, you could supply me with additional promotional material and I would aim to identify a specific named partner school for you as a result of the trip. As this option would require a heavier investment from me in my time promoting your school, I would be looking for a sponsorship from you of £300 towards the costs of my time in this promotional activity. On my return to the UK, I would then revisit your school with an activity report which would specify who I had met, details of your potential partner school(s) and other information as specified in the action plan.

If this is of interest to you, please feel free to get in touch with me at nowen.aspire@btconnect.com

The gaze in classrooms and performance spaces: 8 questions of gaze and power

I’ve been thinking about the concept of the gaze in the classroom and the performance space, having previously encountered the concept with the domain of cinematic studies. The concept of the ‘male gaze’ was developed by Mulvey in 1975  and in broader terms, gaze depends on who is doing the looking and what is being looked at.

In watching artists and teacher working together, I’ve been thinking about glaze in two vertices: direction and depth of field.  Direction of gaze can be classified as either vertical or horizontal.  The Vertical Gaze (VG) was evident when the looking of children was directed either at their teacher or to other source of authority in the room such as a whiteboard or other instructional materials.

The Horizontal Gaze (HG) was evident when children were either looking at each other or to others who were  working together with them.  Shifts from vertical to horizontal gaze could be detected as relationships developed in the session and reflected moments in which the authority in the classroom was  diverted from its usual site, the teacher, towards  other agents in the classroom.

Depth of field can also be classified into three types: short, medium and long. A short depth of field gaze was only possible when a child was unable to look much beyond their immediate environment; their desk or beyond the walls of their classroom for example.

A typical classroom wall, with its myriad of learning instructions and exhortations for example is influential in maintaining a short depth of field  gaze, irrespective of any aspirational advice it may offer in terms of how children might wish to envision their future horizons.    On the other hand, a medium depth of field gaze allows views out of the immediate classroom to perhaps other classrooms, school fields or other school premises such as the kitchen or library.  Finally,  a long depth of field gaze is possible if the view from the classroom can  reach to the wider physical community and in which longer vistas and further horizons are observable.

When thinking about the gaze in performance, and particularly that of ‘integrated’ performances of disabled and nondisabled performers, the concept of gaze leads to some critical questions:

Who are we being asked to look at?

Who are we being asked to listen to?

How are we being asked to look?

Are we being asked to look at everyone through the same conventions?

Who drives the action, who tells the story?

To whom does the story happen?

Who could be almost passive observers watching the action pass them by?

And

Who in the performance could be replaced by puppets?

(extract from The Puppet Question revisited: movements, models and manipulations)