Teaching “World War II Evacuation” through Drama, at a local primary school.
I knew the group reasonably well, having led the class for 5 x 2 hour sessions. Last week, something happened that made me reassess how I work.
I had asked the pupils to imagine they were in their bedroom, packing their things after being told they had to leave home and move to the country (using a technique called “substitution”, where you replace the imagined situation from the drama with one from your own life).
Part-way through the activity, with all the children engaged in the mime, one of the pupils started to become frustrated and angry. He withdrew to the side of the class in tears, and I went to check see what the issue was.
After some time and effort, he finally told me that he didn’t want to do the activity because he didn’t have a bedroom; he slept on a couch at an auntie’s house.
I told him that’s what I meant by a bedroom, because any place where you sleep can be your bedroom. However, I think the damage was already done; all because I had made a presumption about the pupils’ situations, based on my own position of privilege.
Much is said for sparing a thought for those less fortunate than ourselves. Last week’s session certainly will have a lasting impact on me.