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Title: Exploring the relationship between drama and the well-being of primary school children in Cyprus : an ethnographic case study
Author: Tomasidou, Nandia
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2013
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Abstract:
This thesis investigates the potential of the arts, and drama in particular, to contribute to the personal, social and emotional well-being of primary school children. It is based on a six-month fieldwork in two educational institutions in Cyprus; a Primary School and a Youth Theatre. I conducted a series of drama workshops with 46 children aged 6-13, in order to examine whether and how their engagement with drama led to benefits associated with the following aspects of their well-being: Happiness and pleasure; sociability, social skills and skills of working with others; self-esteem, self-confidence and sense of achievement; beauty; and children’s voice. I have decided to focus on these, among many others, because when recent official reports in the UK and Cyprus suggested that the well-being of children is under threat, they translated the phenomenon into terms that fall into these categories. Additionally, while looking at the data generated during my fieldwork, I realised that they pointed strongly to these directions. The recent interest with well-being has led governments in the UK and Cyprus to invest in the designing and implementing of special educational programmes that aim to help children develop their social, emotional and behavioural skills. These programmes are Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning (SEAL) in the UK, and Social and Emotional Education (SEE) in Cyprus. Yet a number of critical reports have pointed out that the very programmes designed to address the well-being of children, are actually posing the risk of undermining it. These criticisms focus on their ‘target-driven’, ‘management-by-objectives’ approach, that has been evaluated as having had little substantial impact on student welfare. In my thesis, I will argue for an alternative understanding of children’s well-being; one that can be achieved in a more natural, organic way, through their participation in drama and the arts, and through their taking pleasure in aesthetic experiences. I will mount my argument using practical evidence from my research, which made use of the methodologies of ethnography, case study and reflective practice, and which implemented the methods of participant observation, semi-structured interviews and questionnaires, practitioner’s journal, and drama conventions as research tools. However, it is important to note that the approach of addressing well-being through drama and the arts is not without its problematic aspects. It invites a different set of challenges and implications to those of SEAL and SEE, some of which conflict with general pedagogical approaches. For example, my findings suggest that youngsters flourish on a personal, social and emotional level when they are allowed to engage with horror fiction and boisterous play. These are areas that teachers and parents might understandably perceive as crossing the boundaries of what is permissible and what is not within a classroom context. Whereas I am not denying that these approaches involve certain risks, in my thesis I propose a classroom pedagogy that can help deal with these challenges. As it will become evident throughout my thesis, issues relating to the correlation of drama to the personal, social and emotional growth of children are not technically straightforward. It is a multi-layered and more complex relationship than what the immediate responses to it might be. What I hope to have achieved is to have unpicked some of the complex issues and limitations arising from this relationship, and to have offered certain pedagogical suggestions that can make flourishing through participation in drama and the arts possible for students.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.589822  DOI: Not available
Keywords: BF Psychology ; LB1501 Primary Education
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