Jearnine Wagner's Education Style

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Black and white photograph of Jearnine Wagner on Trinity University's campus circa 1963.


1968 book entitled Creating Theater by Ruth Byers and featuring material created by Jernine Wagner. The book provides teacher guides for original student plays and describes the general steps of student playwriting. Creating Theater includes examples of real student plays from the Baylor Children’s Theater under the supervision of Wagner.


Jearnine Wagner's lesson plans for theater program from 1959. The lesson plan includes the use of different art mediums and emphasizes movement, space, and color.

Jernine Wagner’s Approach to Teaching 

Jearnine Wagner was the Director of Baylor’s Children’s Theater in Dallas, creator of Trinity University’s children’s theater program, and founder of the Learning About Learning program. Wagner’s teaching strategies focused on fostering students’ creativity. In her theater classes, Wagner implemented various experiential learning techniques such as reflection to engage her students with the material. Ruth Byer’s 1968 book, Creating Theater, includes Wagner’s work as examples. In this way, Creating Theater serves as a teacher's guide,  suggesting that students create, write, and design original works of theater. Wagner promoted this idea because it would allow students to connect more deeply with the material. Wagner stated that the students must have creative control of their projects and defined the teacher as a guide. As she argued, original theater “requires a discussion leader, not a lecturer.” In this way, Wagner promoted an encouraging and experiential environment in which students felt valued and supported.

The importance of Growth Mindset

Growth mindset is an approach to learning that states that skills and intelligence are not innate, but can be developed over time through practice. This mindset emphasizes the importance of embracing challenges and using setbacks as a form of learning. Jearnine Wagner’s lesson plans illustrate her belief in the concept of a growth mindset. While growth mindset is a more recent concept, it is an idea that is clearly reflected in her philosophy of teaching. In this way, Wagner’s teaching style was clearly ahead of its time.