The role of the expert
A central principle of School Without Walls is the collaboration between the adults from different professional realms (artists, educators, and egg partners) and between the different adults and the children. The adults were keen to make their skills and interests accessible to the children and to utilise the environment and opportunities that the egg and wider Theatre Royal Bath family could offer. This increased contact with adults who are experts/professionals in their field has impacted on the children in each of the residencies, by way of sparking interests and influencing behaviour. For the children involved in SWW, quite often the only adults they have regular contact with are family members and school staff, so when these children meet other adults in a workplace environment who are interested in their ideas and supporting their creativity it often has a significant impact.
“What I learned at the egg was how to cooperate with people and how to work collaboratively.” (Year 5 learner, 2011) . In the first cohort from St Andrew’s School in 2011, the children relished meeting different adults. Ann (Educator) could also see the positive effect of the adults’ collaborations with each other during sessions; modelling ‘collegiate behaviour’ and ‘shared thinking’.
In supporting the developing interests of the children, adults involved made it possible for them to work alongside the core and freelance staff of the egg, learning new skills in ‘Discovery Groups’. The Press Gang group worked with a freelance writer Jan to develop journalistic reporting skills, the Technical group worked with egg technician Chris to create lighting designs and operate equipment, the Design group worked with Theatre Royal Bath’s in-house graphic designer Rosie to develop print about their residency , the Café group helped out in the egg’s public café space, the Acting group worked with egg associate artist and theatre director Heidi to explore practical theatre techniques and develop short plays, and the Reception group worked alongside egg Manager Lindsay in a public facing role, selling tickets and making tannoy announcements.
They were finding their own passions, roles and how to function in a group alongside people doing real jobs. The children said:
“I am a technician”; “This is real.” Britannio (Child)
“Learning for the children was as part of a community; there was mutual respect, responsibility and relevance. They appeared to feel more connected and to be developing a sense of their own citizenship.” Liz (Mentor)
‘It felt to me as if the children may be asking questions about and exploring the phenomenon of becoming a part of their wider community. Becoming older, with all the added powers and responsibilities that brings.’ Deborah (Artist)