Pierre Lemaire has dual French and Jamaican nationality, and has been teaching adults in Jamaica since 1976. He has just retired as Dean of the School of Drama at Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts in Kingston after teaching at that institution for forty years.
Pierre Lemaire: My first experience in adult teaching was in France, when as a university student I volunteered to teach French to African migrants. This experience showed me that when working with adults, there is not a learner and a teacher, but two persons exchanging knowledge; both learn from one another. This was when my interest in adult education started.
I started teaching young adults while pursuing a degree in Drama at EMCVPA. Outside of the School of Drama, I teach theatre through workshop programmes to persons with disabilities (psychological and physical), and to people in communities in Jamaica. I also use theatre as a tool for teaching different subjects or messages to specific target groups (Theatre in Education).
When teaching adults, I like to start working from my students’ knowledge base, looking at who they are, where they come from, what they know, and utilise their strong points in my approach. I want them to know that they are teaching me as much as I am teaching them; teaching is really sharing, sharing your knowledge, sharing your passion, especially in the artistic field. When working with persons with a disability, I write it in two words: “Dis Ability” (“Dis” in Jamaican creole means “This”) because I know that for every disability, people develop another ability that they need to function in daily life. The point is to find this special ability developed by the person and use it in our process. Working with a specific group, I need to share their way of life, entering their culture, knowing their habits, their references. Being immersed allows me to work from within the group rather than imposing my views or methods on them.
My passion for theatre is what motivates me to share with my students. Theatre is a group artform which deals with the intellectual, the physical and the psychological aspects of life, emotions and relationships. Therefore, it is a passion you need to share, which will help people to grow, and sharing a passion with other people to help them grow is what teaching should be about.
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