Mantle of the Expert 1 : The First Residential

I am incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to attend the Mantle of the Expert Lead Practitioner Course, funded by the NEU and led by Luke Abbott and Tim Taylor.

I've decided that rather than keep a private journal, throughout the course I'm going to blog my experiences as a record of my learning. Even if no one reads it, it feels good to log the changes in my practice

Whilst I had some experience of the Mantle approach going into the weekend, nothing could have prepared me for the experience I had. My understanding of Mantle had been shallow at best. I had a basic understanding of the commission and had tinkered with the six forms of dramatic imagination, however I hadn't understood the way the Mantle system joins the dots.

There's a feeling that comes with being inside a Mantle. It's hard to put my finger on what it is, but there a palatable sense of involvement in something huge. I've always been a believer of the idea that teaching is 2 parts magic and 1 part science. Experiencing the work of Dorothy Heathcote through the Expert hands of Luke Abbott and Tim Taylor a confirmation of this. Mantle is 10th level magic.

Throughout the weekend we were introduced to some of the basics of Mantle of the Expert (the Commission, the Commissioner and the Responsible Team) and how to construct a commission in a way that inculcates an emotional response that goes beyond investment in a fictional problem through to the real concern for the people in the fiction.

We learnt that Mantle is all about inducing and inviting the children into a shared make belief and that the role of the teacher is vital in creating this (In role, in and out, twilight, secondary etc.).

The thing that struck me the most, throughout the whole weekend, was that the premise of the fiction was nothing without the right language to induce the children to walk into the fiction alongside the teacher (don't ask me about carpet tiles).

Luke is the master at this. I wish I had recorded some of the sessions. Purely to relisten to each sentence, each word, the nuance of each word so I could come to an understanding of how a group of professional, academic adults could be induced to 'look' into a hole made purely of chalk, with real concern for the ficiotal characters stuck down there, purely through the careful choice of language and a masterful use of silence.

I think I have the first glimmer of understanding, but there's a long road ahead.


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