Honorary @ Melbourne Graduate School of Education, The University of Melbourne
John O’Toole has been the Foundation Chair of Arts Education at the University of Melbourne, and Professor of Drama and Applied Theatre at Griffith University Queensland. He was also, from 2009-2013 the Lead Writer for the Arts and for Drama in the Australian (National) Curriculum. He has taught drama to all ages from early childhood to adult seniors, and on all continents. The first twelve years of his career were spent teaching in schools and working in community theatre in education, then twenty five years as a lecturer,. In 2014 he was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) ‘for services to drama education, as lecturer, writer, researcher and mentor’. Among other awards he received the American Alliance for Theatre in Education (AATE) Judith Kase-Cooper Award for Lifetime Research in 2001. Seven of his PhD graduates have won the annual AATE Distinguished Dissertation Award, with another two finalists.
He has written and co-written numerous books on teaching and research, including standard research books such as Theatre in Education – the first book on the subject (1977), The Process of Drama (1992), Cooling Conflict (2004), Doing Drama Research (2006), Drama and Curriculum (2007), Educational Research (2010), Performing Research (2010), Theatre, Young Audiences and the Cultural Conversation (2013) and Acting to Manage Conflict and Bullying (2015) and the Routledge International Handbook of Arts and Education (2015), as well as standard schools textbooks such as Dramawise and Dramawise Reimagined (1987 and 2017) and Pretending to Learn (2002) – which won the Australian Primary Textbook of the Year award. Several of these books have been translated into Chinese, Danish and Italian.
He developed the world’s first BA Degree course in Applied Theatre, now a common university study internationally. He has been very involved in the development of drama in Queensland and Australian schools and teacher education – he was a founder member of the teachers’ associations: Drama Queensland (1976, now life member), Drama Australia (1976) and IDEA (the International Drama/Theatre and Education Association 1992), for which organisation he was Director of Publications (1998-2004), and World Congress Co-Convenor – Brisbane 1995). He has designed curricula and many teacher education programs, including Queensland’s first senior drama Curriculum and its first three programs in drama teacher education. He is also still a practising playwright in theatre for young audiences, and community theatre.