Pearl Arden: Melding theatre and education to make learning fun

In 1989, Pearl Arden received an unexpected gift – a job at Camosun College.

Pearl had just completed a Masters degree in Counselling Psychology at UVic when she happened to be at the college and ran into her friend, Larry Dettweiler, who was teaching in Camosun’s Psychology Department. Larry asked what she was doing. When Pearl told him she was presently unemployed, Larry said: “Well, let’s go see Neil and get you a job!”

They immediately went to see Neil Murphy who was Dean of Health and Human Services (where the Psychology Department resided at that time). After a short chat, Neil asked: “Could you teach a couple of psychology courses next term?” Before Pearl could respond, Larry said: “Oh, yeah, sure she can!” And thus began Pearl’s 17 years of teaching at Camosun.

Shortly after becoming employed at the college Pearl opened her private counselling practice. Over the years, it worked very well for her to do both because each informed the other.

Psychology instructor Pearl Arden

As a member of the Psychology Department, Pearl primarily taught Interpersonal Communications courses. Later, she also taught Child Development, which she loved, as well as Adult Development. Pearl often teamed with Angela Henry to teach the interpersonal courses. Since they both had an interest and background in theatre, they often used theatrical tools to assist student learning. They’d often have students involved in skits in which they acted out roles involving interpersonal communication. These skits resulted in lots of fun and lots of learning.

In later years, Pearl frequently taught in a classroom located across the hall from the office of her good friend, Thelma Midori, who was the Dean of Health and Human Services at that time. Pearl recalls Thelma telling her that occasionally, when things got a bit stressful, Thelma would quietly come and stand outside the classroom door. The merriment and laughter emanating from Pearl’s classroom provided a needed dose of humour that invigorated Thelma and brightened her day.

Submitted by Faye Ferguson, CCARE Retiree

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