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Teaching the Teachers

Janet Lindley Watts, Dramatic Need Operations and Development Manager for South Africa and Rwanda, reports from the ground in Rammulotsi, Free State.

Tatu Somfula and other arts facilitators at the Assitej Teacher Training workshop on the first weekend of March 2019.

Kekana ‘Tatu’ Somfula, Dramatic Need’s operations manager and senior arts facilitator in

Rammulotsi, Free State, Lawrence Chabalala, (DN arts facilitator) and I have now attended three the

ASSITEJ South Africa’s multidisciplinary arts facilitators’ training workshops and will be attending

more during the course of this year. The ASSITEJ SA workshops uses the Creative Voices arts

education teaching methodology to empower creative arts teachers and local artist facilitators to

implement arts education programmes with their students.

Tatu Somfula and other arts facilitators and teachers in a music-based ASSITEJ Teacher Training Workshop

The Creative Voices programme, which I managed from 2003 to 2007, was established in South

Africa in 1999 to address the shortage of skilled Arts and Culture teachers in South African schools

during a time of tumultuous change and reconfiguration of the national education system. It was set

up in partnership with the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London and the National School of

the Arts in Braamfontein, Johannesburg. The goal of the programme was to enable Primary School

Arts and Culture teachers to introduce music, dance, drama and visual arts to their learners through

the facilitation of democratic, student-led and process-driven classroom sessions.

The ASSITEJ programme equips facilitators to teach students skills they may not even know themselves, such as the foundations of reading music.

This programme enables students to explore and discover their world through the guidance of facilitators skilled in process-driven and inclusive arts education methodologies. The process strives to empower both teacher and learner at every step. These methodologies also provide useful strategies for communicating across differences, engaging and persisting in spite of frustration and

difficulty, and envisioning and creating innovative solutions to the challenges of a shared project. It is a wonderful, empowering process that has enabled us to expand on our Dramatic Need curriculum and the ways in which we implement it.

We have had a creative few weeks with our students, moving from mime and tableaux to making kites, signs and musical instruments. Using mostly found materials, our Grade 6s made beautiful fish kites that they are extremely proud of.

The Grade 9 to 11 group painted their personalised community signs up on the wall of the local stadium and our MAC group (the young people of Rammulotsi, Viljoenskroon that we are training as artist facilitators) made some beautiful musical instruments which we will be able to use in our music workshops.

The sense of pride and achievement that all these activities instil in the students is a hugely rewarding experience for all.

Fish kites are easy to make, and a well loved activity by all our students.

The creation of each work of art, through a process guided by their facilitators, necessitated a personal plan that they had to devise, perfect and then implement, solving problems along the way as they progressed to their final product. They now have something tangible to remind them of their achievements and urge them on to even greater heights.

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