'Putting Yourself in Other People's Shoes': The use of Forum theatre to explore refugee and homeless issues in schools

Journal of Moral Education 31 (1):21-34 (2002)
Abstract
This study investigated the experiences of, and interactions between, participants of a Forum theatre workshop, which addressed the issue of the refugee child at school. Staged by a UK theatre company, whose actors had, in their own lives, experienced being homeless and/or refugees, the workshop was investigated as it was performed in three London secondary state schools. Findings revealed that the workshop was highly relevant to the students, reflecting moral dilemmas which they faced in their everyday lives, as they encountered refugee students at school. This interactive workshop gave them the opportunity to try out moral behaviour, which could potentially be applied to real-life situations. Students felt that the workshop enabled them to put themselves "in other people's shoes", both the fictional characters in the workshop as well as actual people they knew at school. The homeless and refugee histories of the actors themselves intensified the reality of the workshop experience. The Forum theatre workshop aimed to encourage the students to become moral agents in their own lives. However, its ability to do this was limited by the lack of both moral reflection upon the issues raised, and guidance in appropriate moral action following the workshop. This absence of follow-up relates to the fact that the workshop was perceived by teachers as a drama activity, and no attempts were made to address its moral content which, teachers felt, belonged to the domain of the Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE) in the National Curriculum for England
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