Mantle of the Expert (MoE) involves the creation of a fictional world where students assume the roles of experts in a designated field.
Mantle of the Expert is based on the premise that treating children as responsible experts increases their engagement and confidence. They can perceive a real purpose for learning and discovering together in an interactive and proactive way – providing them with skills and knowledge they can apply to their everyday lives. MoE encourages creativity, improves teamwork, communication skills, critical thought and decision-making.
The approach was devised and developed by British drama guru Dorothy Heathcote from the 1960’s onwards. A problem or task is established and the pupils are contracted-in or “framed” as an enterprise – a team of experts using imaginative role-play to explore the issue. Usually an imaginary client such as a museum commissions the team – for example as a team of archaeologists to excavate a newly discovered tomb in Egypt. The children may be involved in mimed activities, improvisation, research or discussion. While the focus is on the enquiry process, it can often lead to real outcomes such as writing letters, printing leaflets or selling products. The teacher’s role is to guide the drama, stepping in and out of role as necessary, providing encouragement and motivation to the experts.
Why use it?
The technique can be used to actively explore issues across the curriculum through drama, empowering pupils by giving them an opportunity to assume responsible roles and make decisions in guiding the outcomes. In the UK, many schools are adopting Mantle of the Expert as a cross-curricular approach.
Mantleoftheexpert.com is an in-depth website entirely devoted to this technique, containing information, training courses and in-depth lesson plans.
For an inspiring fully detailed description of a MoE project with six year-old children ‘framed’ as salvage experts visit Jenny Burrell’s fabulous blog http://theseacompany.blogspot.com/
Read a review of the very practical A Beginners Guide to Mantle of the Expert by Tim Taylor
In the episode of Action! Teacher Video below, teachers Tim Taylor and Emma Hamilton-Smith show how they used Mantle of the Expert to explore the history of Nelson.
This article is an extract from Learning Through Drama in the Primary Years by David Farmer available in paperback and Kindle.