Canada > Scotland

Emily Tobin 2017Hello from Canada! My name is Emily Tobin, and I am Teacher Candidate who has just completed a three week placement with Youth Theatre Arts Scotland.

I’ve spent my final year at Queen’s University working towards my Bachelor of Education, which splitting my time between classes and outside placements. The final placement is intended for soon-to-be teachers to explore other areas where we can use our educational skills. For some, this means working with young people outside the classroom, while others use it to explore areas of the world outside Ontario. Personally, I did both.

Since, my focus area as a teacher is about incorporating the arts into education, for this placement I wanted to explore ways to ensure young people have opportunities to work in theatre and performance. I also knew that I wanted to use this placement to explore the world. I chose Scotland primarily for its historical appeals: both my personal heritage and the bits that I have encountered through my studies. The words “youth”, “theatre” and “Scotland” plugged into the ever-wondrous Google led me to YTAS. Upon researching it, I found that it was exactly what I was looking for. Those who work behind the scenes of youth theatre has been an area of interest as I’ve grown as a teacher. I contacted Kenny McGlashan, YTAS’ Chief Executive Officer, right away and soon the placement was arranged.

Since I arrived, it has been a whirlwind of a trip. I landed in Inverness just in time to partake in Saturday afternoon and Sunday events of Interchange. Since then I’ve been in Edinburgh, where I’ve been working with various members of the staff. I’ve had the opportunity to sit in on team and individual meetings for current projects, such as the upcoming NFYT 2017 and Young Critics Exchange. I arrived in the flurry of funding applications time, and have been given a glimpse into the massive amounts of work that’s involved in putting such a thing together.

I’ve also been able to see professional networkers in action at Interchange, a hackathon hosted by CashBack, and the launch of the Edinburgh International Children’s Festival. One of the highlights of my experience was being able to accompany YTAS’ Sector Engagement Officer Vikki Doig on her trip to Angus and see the kind of work she does with helping create youth theatre opportunities. I’ve compiled a report about the results from a survey conducted to enhance understanding of what makes a successful arts project, and researched the contact details of many people who could facilitate youth theatre opportunities within schools. Combine all of this with taking in the sights of Edinburgh and you can see how the past three weeks have flown by.

Throughout my experiences, I’ve acquired a great deal of knowledge about the arts sector. Between discussions with other youth theatre workers at Interchange and through my research into drama teachers of different areas in Scotland, I’ve learned that the place dramatic arts have in education here is very similar to the situation in Canada. For a long time, the subject of drama has been pushed off in favour of other subjects whose benefits are more easily tracked through grades and exams. However, countries are coming to the realization that not only does drama deserve a larger consideration in education, but that it has many cross-curricular connections. My goal as an educator is to help change this perception of a subject that is very near to my heart. Drama helped me come into my own as an individual, and it has the potential to do the same for every student across the world. Education cannot be follow a one-size fits all model anymore. It’s about learning through play, imagination, and experience- learning methods that drama embraces whole-heartedly.

This placement has solidified for me the importance of drama getting its rightful place in education. It has also showed me the importance of making connections with other artists and educators. The more people who are committed to enhancing youth theatre experience, the greater it will be. While I’d like to say what I’ve learned will help me change the world of arts and education, we all know how reality tends to get in the way of such grand proclamations. I will say that this placement will help me change the educational experience of some students. For now, that knowledge is exciting enough.

Thank you to YTAS for hosting me these past three weeks. Everyone has made me feel so welcome and been eager to share their expertise with me. I couldn’t have asked for a better organization to host me, and I hope to return to Scotland soon!

Emily Tobin
Teacher Candidate
Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada (April 2017)


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