Western Edge Youth Arts
The Use And Abuse Of Power:
using drama to explore how people use power
and to develop peer-led, anti-bullying strategies
Bullying is based on the abuse of power. The
development a broader understanding of how
power can be used to oppress people in
conjunction with a drama based, peer-led anti
bullying program to raise awareness and change
behaviour. Peer education makes this a
DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
2006/07 KNOWLEDGE BANK
SCRAYP Program of Western Edge Youth Arts
Tel: 9362 8848
The Use And Abuse Of Power: using drama to explore how people use power and to
develop peer-led, anti-bullying strategies.
Bullying is based on the abuse of power. The development a broader understanding
of how power can be used to oppress people in conjunction with a drama based,
peer-led anti bullying program to raise awareness and change behaviour. Peer
education makes this a powerful strategy.
The challenge: what I/we needed to find out
The challenge is how do you approach bullying in a way that is not accusatory, safe,
fun and effective. How do you put in into a broader perspective that allows young
people to gain a deeper understanding of patterns of behaviour. We needed to find
out if Primary students could handle being peer educators on such a challenging issue
and if this could be done safely and effectively.
The stakes: the reason it matters
Bullying is present, in some form, in all our schools and most sectors of our society.
If we cannot create safe and inclusive spaces in our schools for all our young people
we cannot educate them effectively. They will feel intimidated and withdrawn,
playing dumb. If we can teach them a historical/cultural understanding of bullying,
and develop awareness and effective strategies for combating bullying we can
develop more successful learning communities.
The solution: what I/we did
We developed a rolling program involving groups of 12 young people exploring the
use and abuse of power through drama workshops (based on Greek tragedy and the
Holocaust) and then helping to lead the next group of their peers through the drama
experience. We then used the format suggested by Professor John O’Toole and Bruce
Burton in their book Cooling Conflict that develops an unfinished play setting up a
bullying problem. This play is then shown to the next group and they use forum
theatre techniques, facilitated by their peers, to find solutions that are credible and
relevant. The Program continued until all 60 year 4, 5 & 6 students had been
involved. The Program culminated in an interactive demonstration to parents.
The payoff: how it’s helped
The peer education element, allied to an exploration of wider contexts, developed
awareness and empowered students to feel they could make a difference. Students
developed perspectives on where bullying can lead if it goes unchecked and how it is
based on power relations. Students got to tell their stories and share their own
experiences in a supportive environment. They found the program enjoyable and
challenging. They thought it had changed attitudes to and awareness of bullying and
they felt more connected to their school community. They developed complex
interpersonal and thinking skills by learning the techniques of group facilitation.
Additional information (see notes)
See the SCRAYP program on the Western Edge Youth Arts website:
www.westernedge.org.au or contact Dave Kelman email@example.com
In six months: I/we will
Continue our partnership with Kensington Primary School working in the performing
arts including helping teachers deliver this program for themselves. We will offer this
program as an anti-bullying strategy to other schools and advise on how to implement
it effectively. We will also continue to experiment and develop this work so it
becomes more effective, particularly looking at the area of peer education.
Sample Quote 1: Sample quote 2: Sample quote 3:
I feel everybody really tried ‘I think that people should respect ‘You should treat people with
their best and we were all other people’s culture and beliefs, respect – not tease them about
switched on’. instead of teasing them ‘ their cultural beliefs. I thought the
session was great.’