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Brecht's Use of Magistral and Socratic Dialogue as a Model for Progressive Education

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  03 October 2003


Elizabeth Russo here explores the analogies between Brecht's spectator-centred approach to theatre and a student-centred approach to education, comparing the symbiosis achieved in his work between the ‘Magistral’ approach common to top-down education and the open-ended ‘Socratic’ dialogue. She suggests that even the lehrstücke, often assumed to be his most dogmatic pieces, in fact offer choices and question the spectator's intellect, and compares Brecht's techniques with the concept of the ‘zone of proximal development’ in educational theory – the gap distance between a child's actual and potential level of development, and between his/her individual skills and functioning within a social group. Elizabeth Russo has worked with children in Chicago under the volunteer programme of the Inner-City Teaching Corps, and is currently teaching at St Mary of the Angels School in London. She is a history graduate of Villanova University, studied in the Graduate School of Education at Loyola University, Chicago, and has an MA in Theatre Education from Goldsmiths College, University of London.

Research Article
© 2003 Cambridge University Press

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