Catalina Villanueva and Carmel O’Sullivan: Challenging distances: Navigating the waters of critical pedagogy in the Chilean classroom through drama in education

This case study analyses the experiences of Chilean teachers when learning about drama in education (DiE) and integrating it into their classrooms in an effort to strengthen their work as critical pedagogues

Drama’s potential for critical pedagogy has been explored in recent years (Freebody & Finneran, 2013; O’Connor, 2013), but seldom in Latin American settings. This case study analyses the experiences of Chilean teachers when learning about drama in education (DiE) and integrating it into their classrooms in an effort to strengthen their work as critical pedagogues. This paper reports on a five-month Continuing Professional Development programme where Chilean teachers became familiarised with DiE strategies originated on the other side of the world. The paper explores how DiE helped some of the teachers to break the distance between critical pedagogical theory and practice (Freire, 2000). It also examines how, for a few teachers, DiE was too far-removed from their professional reality. The paper closes with a reflection on the tyranny of distance imposed by language barriers on non-Anglophone educators who wish to access DiE theory largely written in English.

Catalina Villanueva is a Chilean PhD candidate at the School of Education, Trinity College, Dublin, under the supervision of Dr Carmel O’Sullivan. Catalina holds an MA in Drama and Theatre Education from the University of Warwick. She is a member of the Arts Education Research Group (AERG) in TCD, and of the Research Nucleus of Theatre and Education in Universidad de Chile. Her research interests include drama in education, critical pedagogy, and teacher education.

Carmel O’Sullivan is the Director of the Arts Education Research Group (AERG) in Trinity College, Dublin. She organises an international Summer School in Drama and Theatre in Education each year (M.Ed.). She is involved in a number of funded research projects, currently in the areas of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), early childhood education, arts education, and creative interventions for young unemployed adults living in disadvantaged areas. She has presented her research all over the world.

Chris Blois-Brooke (Founder & Director)
An Applied Theatre Practitioner with experience in international Drama Education, Community Theatre and Theatre for Development, Chris’ ongoing research interests centre around the documentation of Community Performance practice for the purposes of monitoring & evaluation, advocacy and training. Recent projects include facilitating participatory documentation of Community Circus, Dance, Theatre and Storytelling practice in Ethiopia, South Africa and Zambia, documenting large conferences around the world, as well as conducting Impact Assessment studies for organisations in the UK and USA. His other work includes Arts-based Curriculum Development consultancy, as well as authoring other Evaluative Research projects.