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Exploring theatre as a pedagogy for 'Developing Citizens' in English and Ugandan primary schools

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

Unpublished
Publication date2013
QualificationPhD
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Advisors
Award date29/11/2013
Publisher
  • Lancaster University
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

This thesis is based on a Theatre for Development (TfD) project I led in two primary schools in England and Uganda, which invited pupils to create and share performance work about themselves and their communities both within and across the two locations. My analysis of this project brings together ideas about education, development and citizenship in relation to theories about children, childhood spaces and performance to reassess the notion of the ‘developing citizen’ and the role of the school in citizenship development. I make a case for a pedagogy of Theatre for Development in education, configuring schools as key sites for development within their communities and children as active participants in that development.

Having traced current approaches to developing citizens through schooling and looked at ways that performance processes have been harnessed to this project across both locations, I map my own model of Theatre for Development. Bringing together Freirean theories of critical pedagogy and Lefebvre’s notions of spatial production, I challenge the conventional discourse around developing citizens and posit the notion of children as active agents. Drawing on postcolonial theories of identity construction, such as Sarah Ahmed’s notion of the ‘strange encounter’, and Helen Nicholson’s ideas around the ‘politics of (dis)location’ in applied theatre processes, I suggest that the playful interaction of TfD offered a space in which the children in this project could explore their own practices as citizens, both real and imagined, and set these against the practices of children elsewhere, as well as more ‘global’ models of childhood. Through these performative conversations, I argue that the children demonstrated the notion of citizenship development as a personal and social process in which we are actively engaged and which all of us – adults and children, from different places and spaces – can engage together.