All the World’s a stage… even the classroom

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Gay Teachers!

Posted by John Naples-Campbell on October 2, 2011

I’m an openly gay teacher – I am proud of who I am as a person and what I have achieved, but that is it… I am a person, gay isn’t everything about me yet I feel in the world in which we live where ‘That’s so Gay’ is used on a daily basis by our young people and young LGBT students are committing suicide because of who they are I honestly feel I have to ‘wave my flag’ so to speak.

I recently came across this on a website…

One of his teachers is a gay male and is very obvious with it. And I think that makes for a bad influnence in the schools where our children are learning. It is bad enough their peers are influencing them and we have to guard them against drugs, and unprotected pre-martial sex, but now we have to deal with gay teachers. They are at the age where they are very impressionable, and seeing this may have some effect on them. I want to hear from everyone on this topic, whether you agree with me or not.

to which one replied….

A gay teacher preaching gay tolerance should not be allowed within a school.

Should our young people (gay or straight or anything in between) not have role models to look up… role models that they see on a daily basis? Why do School officials feel the need to say that gay issues are ‘delicate’ topics – isn’t everything these days? Maybe we need to stop wrapping our young people up in cotton wool and let them experience the wonderful diversity we have in our country without being worried what the ‘parents will think’.

I am a gay teacher and I teach about acceptance for all… yet I feel It’s frowned upon… yet maybe a black teacher teaching about racism, or a disabled teacher teaching about difference or a Jewish teacher teaching about the Holocaust  shouldn’t be encouraged either?

I walk into a classroom and see a photo of a fellow teacher with their husband or wife… what if I put a photo of my partner and myself up? Would anything be said? Happen? Maybe i’m thinking the worst.

The issue we are facing is that it’s not the young people we teach accepting openly gay teachers, they see gay people on TV, in Magazines etc all the time… but it’s the thoughts of the parents and colleagues.

Harvey Milk said… “I was raised by heteosexual parents, taught by heterosexual teachers, lived in a fiercely heterosexual society, so why am I homosexual?”

Stonewall Scotland says ‘Gay teachers and staff should be out wherever possible. It’s good to be able to talk to a gay teacher about gay stuff rather than talk to a heterosexual teacher because they have probably experienced bullying and coming out. But teachers don’t want to come out in school because it’s such a hostile environment.’

As teachers… we are all role models… and we all have the ability to make a difference!

Posted in Citizenship, Curriculum for Excellence, Homophobia | 5 Comments »

Edinburgh Fringe Festival!

Posted by John Naples-Campbell on August 25, 2011

So last year I was Directing a production for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival… which received great press… and this year I have been working for MTM:UK as an assessor for the Music Theatre Matters:UK Awards for Musical Theatre in the fringe. As the fringe comes to an end I have seen 44 shows!

This year has been incredible as I have seen some wonderful productions including Hamlet House of Horror  , From the Fire, Thirsty,   and I have been super excited about seeing Action To The Word theatre company and their productions of Constance and Sinestra and A Clockwork Orange . As a teacher of the Arts I always find the fringe exciting and stimulating… I’m just sad that it still on when we go back to school.

I managed to get one of my students, Neil, an audition for Tumult in the Clouds theatre production of Fleeto and Wee Andy at The Pleasance. He was cast as Wee Andy and has been working with some amazing Scottish Actors. I’m really proud of him. This is an amazing experience for someone his age and the production is striking and harrowing! (and he’s been getting brilliant reviews!)

So as the festival draws to an end… I ask myself… why aren’t more Scottish school students involved… and how can we change this?

Posted in East Lothian Council, Edfringe, Knox Academy, SQA | Comments Off on Edinburgh Fringe Festival!

Curriculum for Excellence

Posted by John Naples-Campbell on August 25, 2011

So we are now into the second year of Curriculum for Excellence at secondary level and I am so excited to be working with a fabulous department and faculty.

Our first year and second years are rotated in the Expressive Arts; each pupil gaining 3 periods a week for ten weeks in Drama, Music and Art… This year we have introduced an exciting new area into our curriculum for S2 pupils. Pupils will still gain their core experience in Drama, Music and Art on the rota for but they choose two ‘Creative Industries’ electives throughout the year to attend. These electives will last for 15 weeks each and will give the pupil an alternative insight into the Expressive Arts through the Creative Industries. Students are able to choose from Physical Theatre and Stage Combat, Animation, Theatrical Design, Musical Theatre, Rock Band, Sound Engineering and Puppet Making .

We hope this gives our pupils a chance to see what the Expressive Arts has to offer and how skills cane be transferred from one curriculum area to the other.

Exciting times ahead at Knox!

Posted in Curriculum for Excellence, East Lothian Council, Knox Academy, Physical Theatre, puppetry, SQA | 1 Comment »

Five Minute Theatre!

Posted by John Naples-Campbell on August 25, 2011

So at the end of last term Knox Academy took part in an amazing day of theatre to celebrate the fifth birthday of the National Theatre of Scotland. We were so honoured to be taking part in what became an incredible day in the Drama Department. All the Standard Grade classes took part and received so much praise for the work that they created… we even got a mention in the Scotsman from acclaimed arts journalist Joyce McMillian…

 For some shows, there is nothing more than a single camera pointing at a distant stage, across the heads of the audience; in others – like Knox Academy’s astonishing multiple one-on-one drama Secrets And Lies, broadcast live on Wednesday morning – the camera almost becomes one of the actors.

Full review can be seen here

So here we are… the finished pieces of work that was created by our talented students at Knox Academy… to say we are proud is an understatement!

Hold Onto Hope Love – S3 

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 Flesh – S3

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Cook – S4

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Barry’s Ballad – S4

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Secret’s and Lies – S4

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So from everyone at Knox Academy… Happy Birthday National Theatre of Scotland!




Posted in Curriculum for Excellence, East Lothian Council, International theatre, Knox Academy, National Theatre of Scotland, SQA, Standard Grade, What is theatre | Comments Off on Five Minute Theatre!

Knox Academy creates Award Winning film!

Posted by John Naples-Campbell on May 7, 2011

Third year pupils at Knox Academy have spent the past seven months working on a short documentary film called ‘It Gets Better’. The film focuses on homophobic bullying in schools and gives hope to young Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual and Transgender people that ‘It Gets Better’.

The pupils were part of the Panasonic Kid Witness News project, a Global contest, which asks young people to create an engaging short film with Global importance.

At the Panasonic awards day in Derby on May 4th 2011 the Knox Academy KWN Team were awarded the ‘Best Global Citizenship’ National Award. Out of the fifteen schools involved in the UK, the Knox Academy team were the only Scottish representatives.

Gill Brigg, Education Director for KWN, had this to say about the Knox Academy film. ‘The judging team was deeply impressed by the commitment of the Knox Academy students in bringing such a loud and proud message to the competition. Their film encapsulated the spirit of KWN through placing citizenship at the core and leading the audience through a challenging, yet optimistic, narrative. We loved the film. Well done! We will ensure that this film reaches as wide an audience as possible. Panasonic supports KWN in  679 schools across 26 countries and we will ensure that this film reaches as wide an audience as possible.’

The pupils worked alongside Stonewall Scotland to help create their KWN film. Laura Ferguson, Education Officer at Stonewall was very impressed by the Knox Academy KWN Team and wanted to thank them, she said  “I hope this team of motivated and intelligent young people will inspire others around the world to speak out about homophobic bullying; a problem that destroys lives. I was delighted to work with such a passionate group and I’m thrilled that the panel have recognised their efforts.”

Maura Drew, a third year pupil and member of the KWN team said ‘It’s been such a fun day; we didn’t expect to get any award. Some of the final films were really good. I was just pleased that our work has been recognised. I’ve learnt so much about film production from doing this. It’s a great project.

The team worked with professionals from Panasonic on film production, editing and camera skills.

‘This has been an amazing opportunity for our young people and I am so proud of them. Homophobia is a serious issue in schools and I want to thank these young people for getting the message heard that ‘It Gets Better’. This is our first year in the contest and to come away with the Best Global Citizenship award is really special, I’m truly honoured to work with so many inspirational people.’ Commented Drama Teacher, John Naples-Campbell

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Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

National Theatre of Scotland five minute theatre

Posted by John Naples-Campbell on May 7, 2011

The Standard Grade Drama pupils in third and forth year at Knox Academy have been accepted to take part to celebrate the National Theatre of Scotland’s fifth birthday by creating 5 pieces of five minute theatre.

A total of 235 Five Minute productions will be broadcast online over 24hrs from 5pm on Tuesday 21st June, 2011. Entries were received from all over the world with 37 successful entries coming from Edinburgh and the Lothian’s.

John Naples-Campbell, Teacher of Drama, Knox Academy, commented:

”Knox Academy are incredibly excited to be selected to stage 5 pieces of theatre created by our Standard Grade pupils as part of Five Minute Theatre. Our pupils aged 14 – 16 years old are looking forward to being part of this wonderful project. Each piece will be staged at Knox Academy on Tuesday 21st June, 2011 as part of a day of theatre at the school.  We hope to create five engaging and stimulating pieces of theatre; performed, written and directed by the theatre makers of tomorrow. From all at Knox Academy…Thank you for giving us this amazing opportunity.”

The five groups from Knox Academy, whose performance proposals include a TV cookery show with a twist; tourists marooned on an island following the sinking of their cruise ship; a one to one confessional; a site-specific, physical theatre piece and a couples’ date night. The school are planning a day of theatre at Knox Academy on Tuesday 21st June, 2011 to celebrate the Five Minute Theatre programme.

Marianne Maxwell, Audience Development Manager, National Theatre of Scotland commented: “The response to Five Minute Theatre from all over the world has been fantastic.  There is a huge range of ideas from a huge range of people. The creativity of each submission promises live and virtual audiences 24 hours of short, original, funny and brilliant entertainment on June 21st.”


Posted in Curriculum for Excellence, East Lothian Council, Knox Academy, National Theatre of Scotland | Comments Off on National Theatre of Scotland five minute theatre

A question…

Posted by John Naples-Campbell on April 20, 2011

After reading a discussion on twitter and with the introduction of the new Curriculum for Excellence I would like to add this to the blog and as you to discuss it…

Is there a culture of fear within Scottish education?

Posted in Curriculum for Excellence, East Lothian Council, Extra Curricular, GLOW, Knox Academy, National Assessment Resources (NAR), SQA | Comments Off on A question…

Times are changing…

Posted by John Naples-Campbell on April 9, 2011

So with the draft documents of National 4 and 5 out, the first year of Curriculum for Excellence almost over… what does the future hold for us?

I’m excited about the future of education in Scotland, the possibility to do a lot of interesting work, the new areas of development in the pupils learning with the National 4 and 5 and what we are doing as a Department, Faculty and School.

We have developed this year our S1 course to meet the new CfE and have worked on the theme of Heritage within our Faculty, we are developing resources and assessments that we can include on the NAR (National Assessment Resource)  site. We hope to offer a ‘specialism’ for one period a week in S2 and then possibly the new SQA Creative Industries course in S3 for those pupils who are able to achieve it.

In Senior school we are already offering the new National Certifiacte in Acting and Theatre Performance (both at Acting and Musical Theatre strands) and have offered for session 2011/2012 NPA Techical Theatre, NPA Acting and Theatre Performance, NPA Musical Theatre and Higher Drama – focusing on giving pupils a brochure of subject related courses to Drama.

Over the next year you will read Blog posts from me regarding how we are moving forward with CfE, as a Department and as a Faculty. From what we’ve discussed the feeling seems to be that we are still walking in the ‘mist’ but one thing is for sure that we need to give pupils ‘options’ to developed their needs.

I found this video and would love you to discuss it with me so please leave your comments…

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Posted in Curriculum for Excellence, Drama training in Scotland, East Lothian Council, Higher Drama, Knox Academy, Learning and Teaching Scotland, National Assessment Resources (NAR), SQA | Comments Off on Times are changing…

New York! New York!

Posted by John Naples-Campbell on February 27, 2011

So our senior school pupils are back from a weeks trip to New York, New York and what an amazing trip it was!

The week started by flying from Edinburgh to New York (via London) and arriving into the city that never sleeps at night. The pupils experienced the buzz of Times Square as they walked from their central hotel for a Chinese late dinner.

Waking up in the morning we made our way to Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island where the wind was icy and snow was still lying on the ground. Having met Ranger Joanna (Or Ranger Dan as we called her) we learnt about Lady Liberty and Liberty island. Ellis Island is always an amazing place and pupils spent some time being shown round and looking at the history of immigartion to the USA.

Our evening meal at Planet Hollywood was great with memorbella from Broadway Shows and Movies were around us… 44 students then ran round Times Square trying to complete a challenge that got them use to the area but asked them to get photographic evidence of all the tasks on the page (lots of photos of hotdogs, yellow taxi’s, poses and NYPD)

We left our hotel the following morning and took a wonder to Ground Zero, Wall Street and The Greenwhich village. Our evening meal was at Bubba Gumps (Famous from Forrest Gump) and then we spend Valentine Day evening on the 88th floor of the Empire State building… at hurricane force winds and ruining a few couples wedding proposals…

We took a lovely walk to the American Natural History Museum where the pupils spent the morning looking at the wonderful history of the nation we were visiting, including some famous faces from ‘Night at the Museum’. We took a peaceful walk through Central Park, seeing some famous film locations before heading to the Hard Rock Cafe for dinner. We then finished our day at Spiderman – The Musical (Turn off the Dark) and eh… well… visually stunning but I think we might have seen a Broadway Flop… the critics are still out on that one!

A packed day followed as we headed off to the United Nations Building and I for one was impressed at how good it was. We later went onto NBC studios and went on a guided tour of this iconic television building. After dinner back at the Empire State Building some of the group went to see the New York Knicks play in their home town, whilst others went onto shop at the worlds biggest department store… MACY’s.

The pupils had a free day for shopping on 5th Avenue before heading to Little Italy for dinner and then the group split and some went to do more sightseeing in Times Square whilst others went to see ‘American Idiot’ a Broadway Show by Greenday and some others went to see ‘Mamma Mia’ on Broadway.

Our final day was spent doing various things including some final shopping as well as a trip to the MOMA before we headed to the airport and flew home (via London)

PHEW… we were shattered but had an

Posted in American Schools Link, Citizenship, East Lothian Council, International theatre, Knox Academy, New York Trip | 2 Comments »

The ‘Performing Arts’ in Education

Posted by John Naples-Campbell on February 27, 2011

I love it when you meet a teacher in your school and they say to you ‘well you don’t have a lot of writing do you? you just act? I mean we have so much marking to do…’ and then you see them digging deeper and deeper into their hole as you look on with a shocked expression on your face – thinking… what planet is this teacher on and if i say anything to them I might actually either burst out crying or turn into the Incredible Hulk!

Everyone who knows me knows how much I love my job and love where I teach, the pupils are incredible (with a few exceptions) and you feel you are making a difference in what you do.

The issue I have is that I teach pupils from a very middle class background where the ‘academic’ subjects are seen as more of a foundation than the ‘arts’. I find it amazing to feel that we always go on about giving pupils options but in fact in most cases it’s actually the parents who we are giving options too… parent power.

The fact that a parent said to me… ‘oh we didn’t realise there was so much written work in Drama, we thought it would be his fun subject’ (sic) shows that under the Curriculum for Excellence… the ‘performing’ arts could be under threat in middle class schools…

The Scottish Government has released the proposed new courses for subjects for National 4 and National 5 (new S4 courses for our pupils). It looks like that pupils will have to opt for only 5 subjects to specialise in for S4 (each course being made up of three units at 40 hours each) – with English, Maths and a Science taking priority… so that leaves two subjects to choose from (a social subject and then one left for Drama, French, Music, Art, Latin, Classics, CDT, Business Studies, Computing, Home Econmics, Italian, P.E. etc…) An S2 pupil said to me as they left my classroom… ‘I want to do Drama but it’s up to my parents’ – to which I wanted to reply… ‘oh yeah I forgot they were sitting the examination’. I want to say that at Knox the parents are amazing and have fully supported everything we do… i’m still worried though… especially when you hear of teachers in Edinburgh and Mid-Lothian being made surplus (who have full timetables) and loosing teachers for money saving purposes… the arts are easy targets.

Why the importance of Drama in Education? Let’s see what HMIE have to say… you can read it here.

I’m all for parent power… as long as they fully understand what each subject involves… we all want what is best for the pupil afterall AND teachers ARE ACTORS! From Maths Teachers to Drama Teachers… you perform infront of an audience every hour of the school day – ‘The educational importance of drama is widely recognised, despite the fact that it does not hold a central place in the secondary curriculum. Drama can contribute to the development of personal and social skills.’ HMIE

Posted in Curriculum for Excellence, The Scottish Government, What is theatre | 1 Comment »