To mark the launch of the new subject guide, we asked an educator who was involved in the development of the curriculum to speak about the course and how the key updates will benefit both students and teachers.
Nicolas Gregoriades is Director of Fine Arts, Head of Drama, Teacher of Drama, English and TOK at the Saint Maur International School in Yokohama, Japan and has been involved in every aspect of the curriculum review and is a passionate advocate for the course.
What has been your experience of teaching Literature and Performance?
“I’ve always been fascinated by the intersection of theatre and literature, as well as the process of adaptation. I have found that students relish the opportunity to take literary analysis into the physical and visual realm. Although they sometimes find it challenging to link their theatrical decisions back to the literary features of the original text, they are genuinely engaged by and personally invested in the act of “transformation” – taking a literary work and adapting it for the stage. This course attracts students who appreciate engaging with literature creatively and physically.”
How were you involved in reviewing the course guide?
“I loved the course from the moment I began teaching it, but I felt that there was some redundancy in the tasks in the initial guide and that some of the skills weren’t as clearly articulated as they could have been. I started to become involved in the curriculum review process by posting my thoughts on IB forums and in 2018, I was invited to attend a curriculum review meeting in The Hague. I have been closely involved in developing the course since then. I have been involved in writing the new version of the guide and materials for new teacher support materials. I have also been involved in writing both the upskilling and the subject-specific seminar workshops, which I encourage people to sign up for if they are interested. In 2021, I delivered the upskilling workshop online to a range of interested teachers and have been trying to spread the word about the benefits of this course ever since.”
What are the key updates teachers should be aware of in the new subject guide?
“In the new guide, we feel that we have achieved our goal of refining the key feature of this course: ‘disciplinary rigour with interdisciplinary synthesis.’ Some of the key updates are:
- a greater parity with the other two language and literature subjects and elements of the DP theatre course, whilst maintaining the unique interdisciplinary nature of the course
- a common assessment shared with the other two language and literature courses (a comparative essay on two literary works), but the interdisciplinary transformative task where students adapt a literary work for the stage and deliver an oral explaining their choices still lies at the heart of the students’ experience of the literature and performance course.
- we have also woven the rehearsal and performance processes linked to the DP theatre course into the ‘student pathways’ that outline how students and teachers should approach the main tasks of the course, including the transformative piece and the written assignment.
- performance elements have been embedded more authentically throughout the course whilst maintaining high expectations for the depth of literary analysis required of students.
- one of the exam papers, which overlapped quite significantly with the internal assessment, has been eliminated, thereby giving students more time to focus on the three remaining assessments.”
How will these changes benefit both educators and students?
“The new guide will make it much easier for educators of different backgrounds to access the course. Inevitably, some teachers may feel slightly less at ease with either the literary or the theatrical elements of the course, depending on their previous experience, but the new guide and the accompanying teacher support materials offer clear guidance to help plan the course and engage students.
Students will continue to benefit from the interdisciplinary nature of the course which allows them meaningful choice and avenues for creativity, yet there will also be clearer guidance on how to frame their choices to help them develop the skills necessary to achieve success within the course. The learner portfolio and the student pathways are just two elements that should help them to engage with the course in a much deeper manner. Overall, this is a much more streamlined and effective version of what has always been a very exciting course!”