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  • 2020binnsphd

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"Living On The Island But Staging the World": Can drama help children to understand how they belong in the world?: A joint exploration of values and identity by primary aged children and their teacher.

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

  • Deborah Binns
Publication date2020
Number of pages204
Awarding Institution
Award date6/04/2020
  • Lancaster University
<mark>Original language</mark>English



The aim of this project was to find out how drama might support an exploration of values, identity and citizenship with primary aged children within a critical pedagogical framework. The findings are offered as an alternative dialogue to the British Values agenda, which has been widely viewed as problematic and divisive. The project adds to existing research on the use of drama to support citizenship education and also adds to the literature on the practical application of critical pedagogical theory to classroom practice.

The project uses a methodology which puts the children’s voices at the heart of the research. The methodological approach is critical grounded theory, utilising drama as a method. This research attempted to remain true to an immersive form of drama education known as “process drama” rooted in the classic “Theatre in Education” movement. The premise of this approach is that the work should facilitate social change and promote social justice.

The findings demonstrate that participatory drama is an effective tool to critically engage children with values and identity. Drama deepened the children’s understanding of the concepts of a “value” and widened their appreciation of a range of values. The children in the project demonstrated that they were open to multiple identities and ways of belonging. The findings demonstrate clear links to recent articulations of critical pedagogy: pedagogies of “difference” and “discomfort”.
This project includes strong evidence from the perspectives of the pupils and demonstrates that the development of shared values requires an investment of time and resources. It is a complex, challenging, yet worthwhile endeavour.