Table of Contents   Chapter 1   Chapter 2   Chapter 3   Chapter 4   Chapter 5   Chapter 6


Chapter Two

Drama-In-Education: Its Tri-Dimensional Role in the Curriculum

Drama as a Therapeutic Medium         The Learning Dichotomy      Igniting the Spark of Spontaneity

Bond Fires: The Helping Quality of Spontaneous Dramatic Action 


A Philosophical Base For Drama-In-Education

The field of Drama-in-Education is related to the larger field of Curriculum Studies in Education. It currently fits into the New Ontario School Curriculum in three significantly practical ways: as a subject, as a method, and as a helping or therapeutic medium. However, prior to the implementation of the 1981 Curriculum Guideline, Dramatic Arts, Intermediate and Senior Divisions, the curriculum development and implementation of Dramatic Arts as either methodology or subject discipline were limited to the following:

l Awareness of Drama as a mode of education involving active learning;

l Sparse inter-school, extra-curricular activities (i.e. play productions),

l Interest in theories and techniques of child development,

l Theatre Arts courses, limited mostly to senior grades and only at the general level.

Nonetheless, the value of Drama as a classroom teaching methodology was gaining recognition throughout the system. Indeed, the Ministry acknowledged the value of Drama in developing its general educational goals for primary/junior students as The Formative Years (1975) and Drama in the Formative Years (1984). Likewise for secondary students, Dramatic Arts: Intermediate/Senior (1981) emphasized the role of Drama, particularly in the affective areas of learning. And it was expected that boards through their principals, directors of education, would begin to implement the guidelines no later than September, 1982, to enable teachers to design effective courses of study and to provide practical directions for implementation and programming. In 1981, Drama was defined by the Ministry Guidelines as follows:

    1. Drama can be considered both as process and as form.
    2. Drama can be considered both as method and as subject.

Drama, in the educational context, can be a lively and enjoyable method of exploring and learning about a number of other subjects and can be a separate subject and discipline in its own right. Drama, as a process in the curriculum, offers unique educational opportunities, which relate directly to the four goals of education for the Province of Ontario:

The curriculum will provide opportunities for each child (to the limit of his or her potential):

    1. To acquire the basic skills fundamental to his/ her continuing education,
    2. To develop and maintain confidence and a sense of self-worth,
    3. To gain the knowledge and acquire the attitudes that he or she needs for active participation in Canadian society,
    4. To develop an aesthetic sensitivity necessary for a complete and responsible life.

As a learning strategy in other subject areas, Drama can aid in understanding personal and human experiences, allowing students to enter into the reality of imaginary situations and characters. Students can explore emotions, attitudes, opinions and relationships, and accommodate these abstract concepts more readily by representing them in a Dramatic, and therefore, more concrete form.

Second, because Drama makes constant demands on a person's imagination, it develops a student's ability to think more effectively. A student involved in a Drama activity will be called upon to practice several thinking skills, such as: inventing, generating, speculating, assimilating, clarifying, inducing, deducing, analyzing, accommodating, selecting, refining sequencing, and judging.

Third, the skills of group interaction are fostered through Dramatic activity by the need to work in groups, to discuss, to negotiate, and to reach consensus. (Ministry Guidelines, 1981)

There is a prevailing philosophical base for Drama being employed as a subject discipline or a teaching methodology in the educational field. Practitioners and authors in the field from England, the United States, Australia and Canada have contributed to the philosophy that Dramatic Arts is "developmental" or "creative", which means that it is "process-oriented" rather than "product-oriented", and melds together notions from education, social anthropology, social work, therapy, dance, music, psychology and theatre.

The pedagogical contributions of a number of noted authors to the field include concepts, teaching strategies, structures, and approaches that have influenced the curricular development of Drama as either subject discipline or methodology implemented across the curriculum. The common thread in all theories (whether they be specific discipline or learning-medium based) of Drama-in-Education over the past fifty years, is the recognition of its inherent value to the whole school curriculum. (See Appendix D)


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Drama as a Therapeutic Medium

In its developmental capacity, Drama plays a third vital role in the curriculum and that is as a helping or therapeutic medium. It must not be confused with the separate field of Dramatherapy but recognized as a medium, which offers significant implications for the field of Drama-in-Education.

In Way's Development Through Drama (1967) and Slade's Child Drama (1954), one can see clearly a solid argument for Drama as a separate subject discipline and not simply a tool for learning in other subjects. Slade stood strongly against children (especially under the age of twelve) 'performing' for an audience. His concept of Child Drama involved personal and projected play. Way (1967) relates child development to various kinds of activities (i.e. social Drama); and the word, developmental', by his contribution, has since remained a preferred titled by the field over "creative", "interpretive", "improvisational", or "spontaneous". Alternately, in the writings of Heathcote (1971), Bolton, O'Neill (1984), Neelands (1990), Booth (1994), Swartz (1988), we are given a multitude of teaching/learning methods applicable across the curriculum.

Courtney's texts (1974 -1980) have combined both views showing how Drama enters all programs and implementation. He established that Drama is a discipline in its own right, which is also basic to all education. The thesis of his work was that Dramatic education should be central to the educative process as Drama is the Dramatic process in life as a whole; that is, Drama has intrinsic value for self-development, aesthetic value as an art form, a transfer agent of learning to other subject areas, and a contributing factor to motivation for learning.

As a helping or therapeutic medium, Drama prepares the student for life and provides a ‘mirror for reflection’. Through Dramatic action, the participants are empowered to transform themselves and their everyday worlds as a natural process of enactment.

A skeptical, and even phobic view of Drama-in-Education as a therapeutic medium has continued to be a controversial issue in the educational field since Courtney told his vicar in 1948 that Drama could help the self-concept, motivation and emotional development of the a kind of natural Therapy. "But my students are not mad! ", said The Vicar [cited in Courtney, in Dramatherapy and the Teacher in Jennings (Ed.) (1987)]

This illustrates a terminology issue relating to certain and incorrect assumptions, including the role and training of teachers, and changing educational goals or outcome-based educational curricula.

In 1954, Slade described Dramatherapy as "any Dramatic activity in education that leads to confidence, hope, feeling of security, discovery of sympathy and concentration." His definition confirms that the helping qualities of Drama are implicit or incidental to the on-going Dramatic activity in the educational Dramatic process. The therapeutic goal is not primary in Drama-in-education. What Landy (1986) adds is that the goals of Dramatherapy bear resemblance to educational and recreational goals, and relate in some ways to many major psychotherapeutic theories that view the client as embodying a confluence for conscious and unconscious processes of mind, body, feeling and intuition.

It has been observed that practitioners in the field today do not appreciate their role as helpers in a therapeutic sense. The use of Developmental Drama as a therapeutic medium can exist separately from the medical, clinical and psychotherapeutic domains that use Drama strategies as intervention techniques with individuals and groups. Courtney's (1982) research supports the view that Educational Drama is a source for the related field of Therapy. "Drama is a central process in human existence, extending not only to learning but also to playing, working, thinking, and to healing."

The goals of Developmental Drama described by Slade (1954), Heathcote (1971), Bolton (1979) and Courtney (1977) parallel the objectives of Dramatherapy. Developmental Dramatherapy (Johnson, 1982, 1986) is, however, a specialized approach in Dramatherapy using Developmental Drama techniques from educational models. The developmental approach, according to Landy (1993) is based primarily on an object-relations model and proceeds from lower-to-higher-order competencies through sound, movement, and verbalization. This approach is only one of many used by Dramatherapy. Other approaches crossing into both fields are improvisational and theatrical, which base their work on an aesthetic model. The role method, an approach used extensively in Educational Drama, is similarly used as a means of treatment in the therapeutic domain.

Courtney (1986) asserts that these objectives are essentially developmental and humanistic, with the focus on ‘the self’, dramatizing in the modes of ‘being’, ‘sounding’ and ‘moving’. They share the use of Dramatic action as a psychologically healthful medium of expression. Both are seen as a continuum: aimed at human transformation, learning and change. In both fields, there is emphasis on life skills, as they promote individual and personal growth, and group dynamics as essential, learning outcomes. Similarly, teacher and therapist use inference to meet the students' or clients’ needs; they may apply a particular approach in either clinical or educational practice to meet these needs, but their purpose is holistic, encouraging people to develop their own intrinsic qualities so that they may function to their maximum capacity.

The writings of educational Drama theorists, Bolton (1979,1981,1983,1984,1985,1986) and Heathcote (in Johnson, O'Neill, 1984,1980,1982) give additional credence to the role that Drama plays as a helping medium. Bolton's approach focuses on emotional release, combined with the detachment of representation. He avoids the usage of the term "catharsis" and concerns himself with psychological disturbances in the student within the Drama experience. He concurs with Dorothy Heathcote in recognizing the value of children expressing their feelings. He refers to Freud, who recognized an affinity between the creative and neurotic processes. Yet, Bolton clearly differentiates between teacher as clinician, and teacher, as sensitive helper using the arts (i.e. Drama) to help a distressed child. He emphasizes that this is not a priority for the teacher. "The teacher is not a clinician monitoring his class in terms of potential sickness".

To Bolton, Drama is not about reactive expression (to relieve chronic emotional deprivation) nor concerned with the purging of otherwise socially disruptive energies in schools: It is about a reflective expression of emotional responses available to the child. He states that arts educators do not want to be thrust into the therapist role. His references to "safety" throughout his writings indicate a certain personal bias about the helping qualities of Drama. Ironically, the central thesis of his work espouses "Drama for understanding".

For Heathcote, teaching is the act of benign interference in the lives of children. Her style is group-centred, focusing on shared experiences with her pupils in a large group structure. She has departed from Slade's psychological symbolism of the "child's personal circle" to the anthropological one of "communal expression". Her goal of achieving a "we" experience directly relates to Buber's "I and Thou" philosophy. She is aware of the social health benefits that Drama brings to her students, however, she does not use the term "therapy" nor does she list it in the indices of her work. It is her belief that the teacher is a ‘change agent' involving transformation, projection and development. In other words, the teacher uses Drama as a medium for Therapy.

As the role of the Drama teacher as "helping agent" is increasingly recognized, it will certainly influence education. For example, the regular classroom teacher and the Drama subject teacher may have to recognize the need to develop curriculum that clearly designates "helping strategies".

Current conceptions and orientations of curriculum include (Eisner & Vallance's) self-actualizational and (McNeill's) humanistic with the cognitive, technological, social re-constructionist categories (Jackson, P. (Ed.), 1992). Their equal weighting of humanistic curricular perspectives aligns with Miller's (1985,1988) holistic curriculum theory. It is primarily his definition of holistic education, which supports the tri-dimensional, and especially the helping or therapeutic role of Drama in the curriculum.

In the holistic curriculum, the student examines these relationships (between linear thinking and intuition, between mind and body, between various domains of knowledge, between the individual and the community, between the ‘self’ and ‘Self’ so that he/she gains both an awareness of them and the skills necessary to transform the relationships where it is appropriate. (Miller, 1985)

Miller moves far beyond the cognitive curricular theorists (Harris, 1880, Bobbit, 1924) whose behavioural and atomistic emphases rely on the cognitive domains and transmission of information, "a one-way movement to inculcate the student in certain skills and values". He, then ventures past the reconstructionists such as Dewey (1938), and Kohlberg (1970) whose positions focus on experiential, active learning and curriculum strategies that facilitate problem-solving (either personal or contextual). Miller's position is that education should stress transformational programs. In this position, education becomes "confluent" (Brown, 1971) integrating the affective and cognitive domains as well as the intra-personal, extra-personal, and transpersonal. Transformational education includes mostly techniques and strategies associated with Drama (e.g. role playing, the expressive arts, movement, visual art, writing) and shares common aims:

l Developing skills in subject matter or forms,

l Achieving personal, interpersonal and social development, and

l Learning process skills that will help students attain their own personal goals (transpersonal).

Slowly but solidly, the field of Drama-in-Education has impacted the curriculum and educational practice in three significant ways: (1) as a method for learning, (2) as a subject for developing specific skills of the discipline, and (3) as a helping agent. The future, ideally, may see all teachers and the Drama Theatre subject teachers as "generalist/specialists" as a result of the tri-dimensional effects of Drama in the curriculum and various trends. The current, competency- based curriculum de-emphasizes credit counting and course-based programs, which is a more holistic approach. Ideally, as the curriculum moves closer towards holism, and accepts the transformational framework, the whole curriculum could incorporate a variety of Drama/Theatre techniques, integrating ideas from gestalt, psychodrama, sociodrama, eastern philosophy, martial arts, dance, (Rudolf) Laban movement awareness, cooperative physical games, and Forum Theatre (from Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed).

In an ideal world, the curriculum would be empowered by Dramatic methods making Drama intrinsic to the core, allowing students to see the interdependence of all subjects. However, in this less-than-ideal world, Drama can still play a multi-faceted and unique role in the curriculum.

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The Learning Dichotomy

The field of Drama-in-Education is a dichotomous one; it demands that teachers possess a "middle-ground" viewpoint to accommodate the opposing stances of activity-based learning/guided learning defined by Courtney, (1982). Any Drama teacher, in a metaphorical sense, is a juggler having to perform a balancing act with these contrasting instructional methods.

However, in the following chart (Table 1), I have used other descriptors from the field to identify the same dichotomy.

Table 1

The Learning Dichotomy of Drama-In-Education

Activity Based











Form, product


Behavioural skills

Personal & social development

Appreciation of art form


Pre-determined objectives


Structured, sequential

Play – natural

Social, external order

Holistic – transformation


Free, independent



Negotiation, transaction

Problem-solving (explorational)

Representation of meaning





What exists today, in the practice of Drama-in-Education is a middle-ground view. Courtney (1982) sees Theatre as the "tip of the iceberg" and the whole (iceberg) is Drama "the spontaneous human process of identification with, and impersonation of others". Theatre is the art form of the Dramatic process". Since Courtney sees a continuum of discovery and guided learning, he does not advocate just one-way of teaching Drama or Theatre. In his "middle-ground" view, everything depends on persons + culture + context and cannot be predetermined by theory. This accommodation of the opposing ends of the continuum is evidenced in the various curriculum documents for Dramatic Arts as well. These documents provide a framework for integrating Drama both as process and form in all grades, levels, divisions and subject areas.

The Guidelines of the past three decades have defined Drama, in terms of the dichotomies, as both process and form.

It is a process fundamental to human involves the exploration and representation of meaning through the medium of the whole person body, voice, mind and emotion and is marked by the participants interacting within the Dramatic situation. "It may be manifested in various forms of artistic expression. In these forms the Dramatic play is shaped and moulded and even scripted with a view towards performance for spectators... (Ministry of Education, Dramatic Arts, 1981).

Let us examine some of the differing perspectives within this theoretical debate to understand the philosophical basis for the dichotomy.

One theoretical viewpoint about modem educational Drama emerges from the ideas of educators such as Rousseau, Montessori, Bruner, and Dewey. They say that learning happens through active participation, or as Dewey states "learning by doing". A related instructive technique is Brunet’s "discovery-learning environment" where the student experiments and explores solutions to problems and the learning transfers to related tasks and applications. To Dewey "the primary root of all educative activity is in the instinctive, impulsive activities of the child, and not in the presentation and application of external material..." (Courtney, 1989)

Dewey's pragmatic view of social "experience" is extended by Courtney {1989) who clarifies that learning is Dramatic "doing" where Personal considerations effect all knowing."...the child knows Christopher Columbus or numbers by replaying them. Reality is what we know when we play."

The opposite approach of the Dramatic dichotomy is based on such views from Ausubel, Skinner, and Gagne. "They collectively see learning through "reception of material" and instructional methods prompting responses. The need for independent discovery is minimized (Gagne). Rather, desired learning behaviours with strong teacher control over the learner's progress are emphasized." (Courtney, 1982)

Courtney (1982) points out the existence of sub-dichotomies within the meta-dichotomy of Creative Drama. "Within the discovery approach are two differing modes: guided discovery which is based on teacher's pre-specified objectives and inquiry-based learning which is based on learning how to inquire rather than what is to be learned." Learning through guided discovery is advocated by the Creative/Spontaneous Dramatics approach (from the United States); learning through inquiry-based discovery by Educational Drama advocates (from Britain, Australia, Canada). Courtney adds that these two modes are the extremes, acknowledging variations in both approaches, and in all countries.

Spontaneous Drama, Dramatherapy, and the Learning Dichotomy

The connection between Theatre and Spontaneous Drama (or Creative Dramatics) has been sustained historically. After WWII, viewpoints in British educational Drama circles differed significantly regarding the best approach and this created an unresolvable dichotomy.

These views included the use of the Dramatic method for literature, speech and movement (Tyler); theatre education where children were to be educated by being an audience (Devine); Child Drama as an art form in itself and a natural dramatic play for personal, social development (Slade). In the United States, however, Winifred Ward inspired the practice of Creative Dramatics combining elements of storytelling, creative playmaking and children's theatre. In Ward's view, the purpose of "play" was to lead to artistic form...Children's spontaneous Drama should be led from the teacher's knowledge of theatrical form. (Courtney, 1989)

Ward’s middle-ground view has had considerable influence on the approaches of Spolin, Siks and Moreno.

They linked creative Dramatics to theatre more extensively than Ward. For example, Ward called it "an art for children". From the 1970's on, Spolin and/or Johnstone's methods influenced the use of improvisation (in theatre games, sports) in classroom Drama work. Spolin's improvisational games focus on the inner workings of the dramatic medium (the ‘as if’ act) and not on the extrinsic or aesthetic value of the form. Her work breaks from Dewey and involves the learner in the "here and now" moment of the situation. Her work is less concerned with problem solving and more on immediate action or what happens? (Courtney, 1989)

Thus, her approach being highly spontaneous and open-ended, strongly opposes the more cognitive and structured view. Where the middle-ground view appears on the continuum is in the form of Theatre Sports (an extension of her method). This combines Spolin's improvisational techniques with the elements of competition and rehearsal. Theatre Sports or Improvisational Olympics shares the characteristics of sports: it has teams, time limits, audience, scores, judges, rules, and rewards. It is feasible then to combine both elements of spontaneity and structure through the practice of Theatre Sports. Even though I do not concur with the inclusion of this process/form in the curriculum due to my philosophical perspective, I must admit its validity for classroom Drama practice.

Another prime example of a middle-ground view lies in the therapeutic approach of Jacob Moreno. He established his "theatre of spontaneity". This method, paradoxically combines both views. Therapeutic/spontaneous methods of sociodrama and psychodrama are based on improvisation structured by the director/therapist.

The dichotomy is further revealed in differing theories about the retention and transfer of learning. The guided learning theorists oppose the trial and error learning of the discovery technique. Courtney contrasts the function, desirability and success of error making in the learning process with strongly guided and reinforced learning. He summarizes research studies that support the middle-ground view stating that opposing instructional strategies can be mutually effective in learning, retention and transfer. He concludes that the discovery methods provide greater transfer of learning, increased motivation and may not be as effective as structured methods in immediate recall but assists retention over longer time periods. The strategies would be used for particular purposes and would depend upon the purpose or intention of the teacher. This position is intermediate or middle ground and considers:

l Expected level of skill performance

l Economy of time

l Applications

l Consistency in responses

l Later learning situations

l Pacing (external or self)

l Open or closed loop tasks

Courtney seems to have favored the Creative Drama methods as forms of instruction. "Students learning through Creative Drama methods are apparently able to approach a transfer situation (which is also free of guidance) with a well-developed method of attacking the problem. They learn such a new task in fewer trials and in less time than that required by students learning under highly structured conditions. Furthermore, the more often Spontaneous Drama is used, the more effective it is as a form of instruction." (Courtney, 1989)

From my own classroom practice, I have been able to identify a number of instances in which the opposing methods are not mutually exclusive. For example, for 'presentation' of rehearsed work developed from improvisation or dramatization, students are either given the criteria to be used as assessment tools of skill development and aesthetic or they are discouraged from criticizing shared work. In the second instance they are encouraged to respond only to the content and interpret the meaning of the work.

Students also are given opportunities to be an audience (at professional theatre performances); (they're asked) understand that as part of a theatre audience, or as participant/percipient in a Drama lesson that they can recognize the mask of appearance and be aware of the reality behind it. They learn about the essence of duality and dichotomy. The approaches are blended to ensure that each Drama lesson leads to a significant and purposeful experience and each participant is provided with grasp of tension, focus and symbol. (O'Neill, 1988)

O'Neill adds that Drama teachers, work in process, improvisation and an artistic medium. She refers to Peter Brook, the theatre director, who compares the role of director to that of a "guide" of new and unexplored territory:

Leaders of process Drama are also guides to new worlds, traveling with incomplete maps to the terrain, taking risks, and not knowing what lies ahead. I like to imagine these guides, the liminal servants to the work, trying to lead the way while walking backward, so that they do not become intent on reaching a predetermined destination as quickly as possible…in process Drama, the outcome of the journey is the journey itself. The experience is its own destination. (O’Neill, C., 1995)

She extends Brook's metaphor to the Drama teacher whose task is to "find appropriate starting points, develop worthwhile objectives, and yet be able to negotiate the meaning, think on our feet and find the kinds of flexible structures and framework which will support true exploration among our students." In her summary of the role of the Drama teacher, she lists a combination of instructional tasks from both sides of the dichotomy.

Some theoreticians today even persist in favouring one aspect of the dichotomy (i.e. David Hornbrook sees Theatre Arts as the "proper" outcome of Drama while Richard Schechner (Booth, D. & Martin-Smith, A., (Eds.), 1988, Chap. 18) sees process work as the true leading edge of knowledge). O'Neill (1988) concludes that generally, educators find it difficult not to think of process as lower in the Drama hierarchy than product. She takes a middle-ground view to the whole issue with the belief that because Drama work in process is unpredictable, teachers need an understanding of how theatre works to help shape their process work.

I will say, that there are adequate examples to illustrate the effective integration of the learning dichotomy in Educational Drama (Theatre vs. Drama). My position, however, acknowledges the accommodation of a "middle-ground" - an intermediate point that incorporates both activity-based and guided learning. This position, has drawn, primarily, on Courtney's complete theoretical investigations.

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Igniting the Spark of Spontaneity

On numerous occasions, during post-Drama discussions, I have questioned my students about the spontaneity of their Dramatic activities. It has become increasingly fascinating to me that students can identify their personal "eureka experiences" (Moreno, 1953) so easily, describing what was unplanned, new unexpected, surprising in their Drama work. My personal teaching experiences reveal that students intuitively know when they are being spontaneous, and accept the moment as a positive one, yet they do not know exactly what it is, or how they can achieve it. My notion is that a better understanding of the concept will help to eliminate a resistance to accepting spontaneity as a component of creativity and its related element of imagination as positive qualities.

Yet, there seems to be a linguistic problem in capturing one acceptable definition of this enigmatic concept of spontaneity. If it is the moment or the intense "here and now" (Moreno, 1953), then it appears to be an act or product; if it is the liminal state of "readiness to act" (Moreno, 1953) or the moment before the "here and now," then it is clearly a process.

Courtney (1987) has used the adjective form of the word to describe spontaneous Dramatic action and views that action as "helpful in the development of self-concept, motivation and emotional development of (the) children, helping them psychologically as a kind of natural therapy in educational settings." (Jennings, 1987). Moreno (1946,1953) has used the term as a noun to refer to his theatre of spontaneity or therapeutic theatre with spontaneous improvisation in psychodrama, sociodrama, psychometry and group therapy in clinical settings.

Psychodrama and its associated approaches offer a method of how to cultivate the integrated process of the conscious and unconscious, the emotional and rational, intellectual and physical in creativity and is committed to bringing psychodrama to the present moment. (Blatner, 1988, p. 50)

According Bernstein (1979, p. 37), through (Spolin's) theatre games, a group creates improvised, spontaneous theatre and achieves transformation. Blatner (1988) believes that creative Drama and improvisational theatre games need to be integrated into more aspects of our schools and that informal, more imaginative play needs to be encouraged in childhood and adulthood as catalysts of creativity" (1988, p. 60) and that psychodrama "be used beyond the medical model, in education." (1988, p. 69). Blatner (1988) states that it is easier to understand spontaneity by example than by definition and provides some instances of its presence in the following:

l Improvisations in the playing of jazz musicians or in ragas from India.

l Unstructured, make-believe play of young children; also much of their drawing, painting and exploratory behaviour.

l A person trying out new ideas in cooking, on the spur of the moment.

l The singing of a mockingbird, the play of kittens.

l The inspiration of a poet, the impromptu sermon of a preacher.

l Two people falling in love.

I asked certain individuals from the field of Education to give their own, simple definitions in order to gain an initial understanding. A variety of mixed, "spontaneous" responses gave valuable insight to my search for meaning. My colleagues identified it in:

l Sudden, bubbling laughter between friends.

l Dancing by yourself.

l The "triggers" (memories, urges) from a song, a photograph

l Staring at droplets of rain on a window.

l Jaywalking, driving and finding yourself on a different route home.

l Doodling.

l Starting to hum a tune (in a shower).

l Cuddling.

l Planning to do something and suddenly changing your mind.

l Acts of habit such as washing your hands after going to the bathroom.

l Talking.

l Prayer and meditation.

Relevant questions beyond initially defining the phenomenon seemed to emerge: Can one quantify spontaneity? Can spontaneity be cultivated in an individual, or in a group? I will attempt to deal with the latter question most obviously by emphasizing the prominent features of the phenomenon, its existence in the helping quality of Dramatic action (specifically, improvisation) and its close link to creativity and imagination. I will also discuss the philosophical and psychological theoretical bridge, which connects spontaneity to both areas while emphasizing its educational implications. "Behaviour that is automatic, habitual, fixated, compulsive, rigid, stereotyped, or practiced to the point of sterility is the opposite of spontaneity" (Blatner, 1988, p. 66).

Johnson (1981) defines spontaneity as "the ability to act responsively to situations: It necessitates a degree of self-confidence, emotional control, and adaptive capability. Therefore, the individual's level of spontaneity in role playing can be used as a general measure of the individual's mental functioning" (1981, p. 16). He sees the phenomenon as a mainly responsive one in which a person responds to a specific situation. He also points out that spontaneity may be inhibited by three things: a) a person's level of anxiety, b) ingrained patterns of response (cultural conserves), and c) a person's lack of experience, education, or intelligence, which limit knowledge of alternatives.

Blatner (1988) defines spontaneity as a "primordial force, a source of non conservable energy characterized by elements of surrender, innocence and this results in the expansion of consciousness (1988, p. 64). He suggests that spontaneity can be fostered by the establishment of a context or the necessary conditions (1973, p. 42). These conditions "include a sense of trust and safety; norms that allow for the inclusion of non-rational and intuitive dimensions; some feeling of tentative distance, and a movement toward risk-taking and exploration into novelty" (1973, p. 42).

To Blatner (1988) the essential qualities of an essential act are an openness of mind, a freshness of approach, a willingness to take initiative, and an integration of the external realities of and internal intuitions, emotions, and rational functions. Spontaneity, he further explains, is not mere impulsivity or random behaviour; there must be some intentionality toward a constructive result, whether aesthetic, social or practical (1988, p. 64).

Blatner (1988) proposes the ontological validity of the "liminal field". He explains liminality as a "kind of metaphoric doorway of transformative process" (1988, p. 58). One of the paradoxes of spontaneity is that mastering skills or becoming familiar with the subject matter increases our capacity to be more spontaneous (to play and improvise) (1988, p. 67).

Spontaneity, like catharsis, is based on the central paradox of dramatic experiencing. Two realities exist side by side: that of the real world and that of the dramatized/play world. When in the spontaneous state, the individual exists in both realities. There is also an implication of existing in two time frames: the past and the present. Although acting spontaneously means fully living in the present, fully focusing upon and experiencing the moment as it occurs, the spontaneous person is also basing his actions upon past experience.To be spontaneous, an individual must create the 'illusion of the first time' and behave as if he was performing rehearsed actions for the first time in the presentation of the self to the world. This fear of entering the unknown quality of the "here and now" presents a risk of failure and humiliation to the individual. (Landy, 1986, pp. 105-106)

Goffman (1961) sees people as continuous actors, co-acting at the same time a number of roles in everyday life. He suggests that people prepare unconsciously 'backstage' – in the bedroom, in the living room with guests, or when entering a good restaurant (Schutzenberger, 1975, p. 133). This rehearsal process is in some way a measure one takes to prevent failure in presenting the self to the world. The individual avoids spontaneity to protect the self; therefore, avoidance is self-perpetuated.

The climate for evoking spontaneity demands "warming-up" (Blatner, 1988, p. 67), or establishing a receptivity to the unconscious. It is impossible to will it to happen or to control it; it is a magic process, which can be captured given time and proper receptivity to the unconscious.

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Bond Fires: The Helping Quality of Spontaneous Dramatic Action in Dramatherapy and Psychodrama

"Both Dramatherapy and Psychodrama share a common aim of facilitating spontaneity and creativity" (Davies, 1987, p. 104).

Dramatherapists, today, focus on dramatic action and work within both clinical and non-clinical settings. Their techniques are "eclectic," using variants of sociodrama or theatre or other media; however, they share a common philosophical base in Dramatic action as a positive force for learning, personal growth and healing (Courtney, 1989, p. 83).

The Dramatherapy movement evolved from the work of Peter Slade, in Britain, in the 1930's. His contribution to the field recognized the value of achieving catharsis in the Dramatic action of children (Courtney, 1989, p. 83). Landy (1986) supplements this notion by pointing out that catharsis can occur only if aesthetic distance is achieved: the concepts of distancing and catharsis become crucial in Dramatherapy when the natural means of distancing in everyday life break down. The client will often manifest his dysfunction or disability through an imbalance in his behaviour, feeling, or thought. By improvisational means, the Dramatherapist will first help him represent that imbalance, then move toward establishing a balance of distance which takes a visible form in role playing and catharsis; thus, the spontaneous person enacts an improvised role in such a way that self and role are distinct yet merged. (1986, p. 105).

The role of the Dramatherapist, then, in Landy's view is "a liberator, one who liberates the client from impulsive acting out and compulsive withholding to achieve aesthetic distance. The Dramatherapist must choose carefully between theatrically stylized devices (e.g. mask, puppets, etc.) or realistic ones (psychodrama, documentary, etc.) for treatment (1986, p. 103).

According to Landy, the Dramatherapist helps the client reach spontaneity "by accessing the unconscious, giving form to repressed feelings without being overwhelmed by them. The therapist allows the client to release unconscious imagery."

In Dramatherapy, Landy further explains,

Both the Freudian and Jungian notions of the unconscious are useful. The Freudian view of the unconscious as a reservoir of infantile psychosexual feelings symbolized through language and behaviour is useful in analyzing the dramatizations of clients in terms of their personal histories. Thus, the therapist often turns to story material (i.e. fairy tales) so that the client can recreate the story in terms of his own personal fears. The unconscious, from Jung's point of view, is not necessarily a source of dark, disguised fears and desires but rather a morally neutral area that embodies the mythic substance of the human race. In adapting Jung's perspective in Dramatherapy, the therapist helps the client to see that his unconscious imagery is connected to the normal interplay of opposites (i.e. fantasy and reality, love and hate which are dialectical concepts that underlie a universal conception of human nature. [1986, p.106])

Landy emphasizes that the major issue for the Dramatherapist involves helping the client to arrive at a spontaneous state and express his unconscious feelings through appropriate imagery. He believes that this can be accomplished by moving the client toward aesthetic distance or psychic balance. He alludes to those psychological theorists such as Mead and Piaget who say that healthy functioning is based upon certain psychic balances. "In psychoanalysis, the id, ego, and superego, are in balance with the id mediating between the self and the outside world. For Mead, the I and Me are in harmony balancing the personal needs with the demands of the social world; for Piaget, that balance is achieved through assimilation and accommodation (enactment through imitation)." Landy includes Moreno's psychodramatic model with those significant therapeutic models (Freud's psychoanalytic, Jung's analytic, Reich's biofunctional, Laing's existential, Roger’s and Perl’s humanistic, Skinner's behavioural, Satir's family-therapy) that apply the restoration of balance to the self by means of working through the role.

Similarly, Drama-in-Education is linked to Dramatherapy as it involves role-playing in which the child projects himself into imagined roles and situations: it involves "stepping into another person's shoes" (Slade, 1954). This capacity to stand in another person's shoes is related to the individual's ability to relate to objects in his external world, moving from a position of universal omnipotence to an acceptance of objective reality which are steps toward individuality. Wilkinson (1980) linked the concept of subject-object relation or illusion to its function in education. Drama students are actively involved in learning through created roles. Wilkinson defined "role" in a broad sense, referring to another person, quality, feeling, attitude or a particular way of behaving. The other important facet of this area between subject and object is that it is allowed to the infant and, as Winnicott stated, it represents the early stages of the use of illusion. The value of this illusion is inherent in the acceptance of toleration of the paradox in the subject-object relation: that is, the object or phenomena is at once separate from and external to the subject (it is "not I"); however, its presence is necessary for meaning to be created (Wilkinson, 1980, p. 63).

Stanislavski (1937) claimed that role-playing involves firstly, the student discovering the basic similarity between himself and the role. This is based on relating the emotional import of the role as perceived by the student with the emotional memory of the student….striking a certain emotional response within the student. Secondly, Stanislavski maintained that this aspect of identification in role-play involves imaginative projection. Both of these are essential if role is to be created. "Identification in Drama is the process of the individual conceiving within himself, states and ranges of behaviour, even those in which he is not involved" (Wilkinson, 1980). Wilkinson explained that this is probably the most prominent feature of the relationship between spontaneity and imagination in the Dramatic process. The basis of spontaneity is the perceived role must provide opportunities for meaningful action which relate to the student's capabilities and experience. Out of this arises commitment to the experience and a sense of control within one's limits. If this cannot be accommodated, identification becomes largely a matter of external involvement and imagination is relegated to the superficial. Through identification, the student extends his self-concept to incorporate the role.

Bolton (1986) described the dangers in the requirement of such an act of submission. He supports the need for a balance between calculation and intuition in Drama-in-Education. However, he warned that an inherently high degree of concern for one's own image produces a holding back and lack of spontaneity in Drama experiences so that a teacher must be responsible for protecting the student from the wounds of being vulnerable too soon. In this sense, if one follows the philosophy of British Drama specialist, Brian Way (1967), beginning the Drama where the student or client is (presently functioning emotionally, pedagogically, developmentally) and needs to begin, then one can begin to see the positive effects of spontaneity in Dramatic action.

Psychodrama was the first organized application of Dramatic action to the solution of interpersonal problems and the growth of the individual-or group-awareness (Davies, 1987). It was developed in the 1920's and 1930's by Moreno, whose spiritual and philosophical view of the human condition emphasized ideas about spontaneity, creativity, action, self-disclosure, and risk-taking in "encounter." He also emphasized the importance of the present (coining the term "here and now"), the significance of touch and non-verbal communication, the cultivation of imagination and intuition, and the value of humour and the depth of Drama. In his view, the psychodramatic method and its derivatives are the primary vehicles by which people can learn to develop these potentialities in themselves (Blatner, 1988, p. 4). Moreno's philosophy was part of the tradition (Liebniz, Spinoza, Bergson, et. al.) that emphasized the innate creativity of every person and the potential of spontaneity in every moment. To Moreno, both "the phenomena of spontaneity and creativity involve metaphysical categories" (1988, p. 53). Courtney (1975) discussed Moreno's development of a theory of spontaneity as the "readiness to act" -a creative response resulting in creative products (the cultural conserve) which are no longer spontaneous" (1975, p. 7).

Schutzenberger (1975) explained the cultural conserve as the end -product of a cultural endeavour, the fixed conserve or preserve of culture, the contents of all libraries, the teaching in all the schools, the knowledge acquired by a child in the home or at school….all the 'conserves' of the past creativity of others offered to the intellect" (1975, p. 142).

Schutzenberger (1975) described Psychodrama as a form of group psychotherapy or training in which the patient (or subject or 'protagonist' ) enacts his problems or conflicts, instead of talking about them, in a kind of spontaneous sketch, role play or Commedia dell Arte, with the support and participation of the group, and the help of the psychodramatist. Courtney (1975) felt that Moreno's work on psychodrama was only "marginally useful in school but his techniques were adaptable" (1975, p. 50). Courtney (1981) added that Moreno used improvisation for its own value to provide a specific "catharsis" directing attention to a specific problem of a patient. The inclusion of spontaneity training in the Drama curriculum, borrowing techniques from Psychodrama and Dramatherapy could be an effective means of liberating the spontaneous creative potential in people. Educators could ignite a new form of "spontaneous" combustion and set the world on fire!

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