So, should the primary purpose of education be preparing a workforce, furthering social justice, imparting moral values, or promoting individual fulfilment? Thanks to Flinders education lecturer Paul Jewell’s Adelaide Fringe play Educating Fronnie, the choice is up to you.
Set on a spaceship about to colonise a new planet, the play features five characters who embody competing ideologies, with each attempting to convert a policy-making bureaucrat to a different view on the future focus of education.
Using an approach that is part satire and part social experiment, Dr Jewell has laid out the alternatives in the characters of Rex Right, Libby Left, Peter Pastor, Chris Childs and the cynical Siggy Sykes.
Dr Jewell, who lectures on the philosophy of education, said Educating Fronnie explores the hot debate between utilitarian and more liberal and holistic views on the purpose of education, but is intended to be entertaining as well as thought-provoking.
“Because the characters are stereotypes, the actors play them up for laughs,” he said.
“The audience gets very involved and cheers on their favourites, and at the end we have a tally room, and declare winners and losers.”
Dr Jewell originally devised the play to sound out the varying attitudes of undergraduate teaching students. The public performances, too, will have a research element: Dr Jewell compiles the votes as data, and says it will be very interesting to see if the political feelings of teaching students echo or conflict with opinions among the wider community.
“It’s very, very topical, and a lot of fun,” he said.
“If you are a tax-payer, parent, teacher or student, this show is for you.”
The two performances of Educating Fronnie will be at 8pm on Thursday, February 28 and Wednesday, March 5 at the SA Folk Centre, on the corner of George Street and South Road, Thebarton. Bookings can be made on 1300 374 643 or via www.adelaidefringe.com.au