Breda, day 2: theatres and theory.

Day two in Breda and a grilling from some of the 2nd year students about the different Edinburgh venues they???re researching. For the record that???s the Festival TheatreChurch Hill TheatreStorytelling Centre and the Royal Mile (particularly the High Street). I did my best to answer their questions, although I suspect that for some this project will only fully come together when they reach the Scottish capital and can experience the atmosphere and goings on at their chosen venue.

All the groups I spoke to were organised and professional in their approach (written agenda, minutes, etc.) and although these were supervised meetings with their tutor the students were driving the discussions. Ingraining these operational skills and attitudes early in the degree programme is important and I assume helps set the tone throughout the course. (There were a few disapproving comments from classmates if someone said they wouldn’t be able to make it to the next meeting.) In general though the focus was on engaging in the research process, ensuring validity and reliability in their work and establishing the next steps for the group within the limitations they are faced with.

I also had the chance to present to a different group of students, this time a more ???academically??? focused class who are predominantly Dutch (rather than the international mix on their way to Edinburgh). I fear that I tried to cram too much in, although I warned everyone that this was due to be the case and they let me off. The subject was partly a discussion on stakeholder relationships (drawing on comment from Getz and others), partly an Edinburgh case study, partly a review of some work from Richards and Palmer in their ???Eventful Cities??? text. By discussing these ideas in an explicitly international environment I probably took a more considered approach to how they affect Edinburgh: I couldn???t rely on my audience???s familiarity with the city, so had to do more to contextualise the information for broader relevance. Likewise I also had greater freedom to speculate perhaps: ???This is what works in the UK, what about the situation here in the Netherlands????

Dinner was with colleagues from the university and it’s perhaps reassuring that some of the same themes crop up from one country to the next: feedback, management, academic leadership, student expectations, the learning experience, course design and flexibility, placement opportunities, appropriate technology, primary research and more. Some simple lessons that I’d like to take from this and apply at my institution include…
– doing more to promote overseas placement opportunities to the students
– encouraging a more professional attitude in the earlier years of the course to enhance engagement
– reviewing and monitoring the balance between programme flexibility and academic coherence
– getting a clearer idea of why the students are doing the course and what they really want to get out of it

Meanwhile, some photos of Breda and the leisure/events campus.

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2 thoughts on “Breda, day 2: theatres and theory.

  1. Anonymous

    It’s clear that there are universal issues which impact on all in education. I’m interested to see you pick out two which I’ve been grappling with all year- encouraging a more professional attitude in the earlier years of the course to enhance engagement- getting a clearer idea of why the students are doing the course and what they really want to get out of itI think in our areas students are attracted in by the ‘cool’ image of the industries and the fact that they enjoy consuming the products they study. It’s great on one hand – you don’t have to worry about them falling asleep in class as they’re already into the topic, there’s always a ready list of examples to illustrate every point and so on. But on the other hand, I wonder if it breeds a little complacency. Students have broad ambition ‘I want to work in festivals’ but little focus on how to get there and have a tendency to rely on cliche and past experience as consumers ‘when I was at X last year’ rather than having to really focus in on individual elements of their industry and learn about it from scratch. Getting away from that mindset is difficult. The approach we’ve taken here is to basically deconstruct the students and build them back up from scratch again. We’ve put as many guests from the ‘non-cool’ parts of the industry as possible in front of them, got them working in the most basic areas possible to show the underbelly of the industry – even "banned" certain types of events from being discussed in seminars to force them to engage more widely with their areas. It’s a little like pre-season training – make them do the hard slog before the fun and games later on!I’d be interested to read more on what they do in Breda and what you’d like to do in Edinburgh to work on these areas.

  2. Anonymous

    Hi Daniel, thank you for your comments to this and the previous post. It would be great to meet up during the summer, particularly if you can make it down to Edinburgh during August – let me know if you’d like a place to stay for a night or two, I’d be honoured to put you up. (If you’re in Edinburgh this week or next you could meet the Breda staff while they’re here for the research part of the project.)My understanding of your programme structure means that your students are required to complete a set number of hours of relevant work each year, but please put me straight on this! We consolidate our formal supervised work experience into 24+ weeks during 3rd year and over that summer. This limits our ability to build practical work into the earlier years, although of course we’re a recognised recruiting ground for many events and festivals and I regularly pass on opportunities to the students throughout the year which I hope they take up. The early years of the course also reflect the breadth of topics open to the students from the wider business school, and more than half of the undergrads are now on joint honours degrees which can also curtail the time they spend on events modules.I like the idea of banning certain types of events from discussions: it’s too easy to fall back on the Olympics, weekend music festivals and (in Edinburgh) the Fringe. When it comes to assessments, where our students are generally given the opportunity to focus on whichever events they choose, I am sometimes presented with some very innovative events and a refreshingly eclectic spread.There’s plenty of scope to reflect on these themes over the summer, which is something to promote within and between institutions.

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