The original school was really politically influenced, because, as mentioned before it opened during the pre-World War 2 era. Politically speaking, the pre-WW2 era was very populist; as in there was big political push to represent the “common man”. This coupled with the depression hitting Canada made the unique character of the school. Elizabeth S. Haynes, who was a theatre activist, declared, “the people’s theatre is an ageless idea springing everfresh from the hearts of humanity”. This populist orientation was a clear view of the 1930s preceding World War 2.
Post WW2, the programs populist social activism declined, and the school started focused on Canadian nation-building and national culture. Donald Cameron wanted to create an iconic cultural education institution that represented Canadian progression and sovereignty, and this was made possible by producing art within the boundaries of this sovereign land. With this, Donald decided to invite instructors, regardless of where they lived. Bringing in this foreign expertise proved to be very successful.
The critical reflection theory is one that we think the school mostly adopted. Brookfield defines critical reflection as "reflecting on the assumptions underlying ours and other's ideas and actions, and contemplating alternative ways of thinking and living (1987, p. 87).” We think that this theory of learning is particularly applicable in the cultural arts because as a creative art student one must be able to reflect on those raw ideas and emotions and express it in alternative ways. For example, the play “Relief” was produced that reflected the problems that were faced by the Albertans.
Brookfield, S. (1987).Developing critical thinkers: Challenging adults to explore alternative ways of thinking and acting. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Melnyk, G. (1994).Literary History of Alberta Volume One: From Writing-on-Stone to World War Two. University of Alberta Press