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Drama, Desire and Schooling. Drives to learning in creative and expressive school subjects

By Anton Franks


Desire is an unfamiliar and neglected concept in education and schooling. This paper makes an argument for the need to consider desire as a drive to learning in schools. In parallel with both Freud and Piaget, Vygotsky draws connections between play in children, fantasy and imagination in adolescence and, in adulthood, the making and enjoyment of the arts. In each case, the force, or drive towards creativity is seen as an expression of desire. With the emergence of arts-oriented subjects in the curricula of mass schooling, adolescents are encouraged to draw resources from the internalised worlds of fantasy and imagination and to materialise these in the social production of various cultural forms, where the resources of production are held as much between the group of students as within their individual and internal worlds of fantasy and imagination. This paper focuses particularly on the secondary school curriculum, taking a piece of improvised drama as evidence and analysing it from a Vygotskian perspective. Firstly, how, in these kinds of activity, might educationalists gain insights into the individual and social drives towards learning and development and, secondly, what resources from the socio-cultural environment are utilised and transformed? Major themes to emerge will be the productive and dynamic set of tensions which are exposed between the desire of the individual and the processes of social production, between the drive of desire and structuring principles of particular cultural forms and, finally, between the force of desire and the institutional constraints of schooling

Year: 1997
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