Recent Submissions

  • Drama in School - Events of Learning and Processes of Becoming: An example from Sweden

    Owens, Allan; Garratt, Dean; Rosén, Susanne (University of Chester, 2019-10)
    This thesis deals with issues relating to how learning takes place within drama education. The overall aim of the research study described in this thesis is to contribute to knowledge regarding what drama can be and how learning takes place in drama education when it constitutes a recurring part of compulsory schooling in Sweden. A sub-aim is to examine the components that co-produce such learning. A research study was conducted in Sweden where drama is not a compulsory subject in the national curriculum. Throughout the thesis, the focus is placed on the discursive formations and the components of dramatic form, content and processes of becoming. Explicit emphasis is placed on how these both articulate and iterate in drama educational practices. A combination of post-constructionism and drama theory is employed as key conceptual tools to capture and interpret pedagogical processes. Post-constructionism as a tool can be described as moves into and beyond stances of social constructionism and post-humanism. Within the broader frame of social constructionism, Dewey’s educational philosophy has provided a means to understand the role of social interaction and communication in education. Within the post-humanistic field, a nomad philosophical approach provides the theoretical means with which to explore interrelations of discourses, materialities, social interaction and aesthetic symbols and further analyze doings in spaces in-between. A key point of departure is that educational practices on macro- and micro-levels are interrelated. Therefore, a genealogical analysis of discursive formations of drama education as a part of the compulsory school system in Sweden, and an empirical study of local drama educational practices have been undertaken. All schools that participated in the study offer drama as a scheduled subject at some point over time. Four classes in three schools have been followed during drama lessons, and participating pupils have been interviewed. Both individual and group interviews were undertaken, and in the group interviews, drama is integrated as one method to construct data. The study concludes by claiming that drama education can be understood as events where what we perceive and know (the actual) and what potentially may be (the virtual) are working on the same immanent plane. In drama educational practice, the components of dramatic art form, content and processes of subjectivities are interconnected. Learning and becoming take place as processes in-between, in the conceptual AND. The deployment of the analytic conjunction AND implies a non-dichotomous approach to drama education. In drama, the common, embodied creation and exploration of potential ways to act and become lead to engagement and to learning. This together with a focus on the common doing in the work of dramatization contributes to the meaning and simultaneous creation of ‘drama’ and ‘group’. An important corollary is that who we can be, and hence our creation of meaning within the world, takes place as a synchronous process. Thereby, drama education mobilizes a pedagogy of learning and becoming that both challenges and complements the otherwise realized school education. Because drama opens up diverse ways of knowing in one and same educational event, it can contribute to equity in education.
  • Mythical Performativity in Neoliberal Education: The Curse of Ofsted and Other Monstrous Tales

    Moran, Paul; Hanson, Diann (University of Chester, 2021-05)
    Mythical Performativity in Neoliberal Education: The Curse of Ofsted and Other Monstrous Tales conducts an innovative investigation into neoliberal educational policy and its enactment through Ofsted and school leadership practices. Through its focus on a secondary school requiring special measures intervention following an ‘unsatisfactory’ Ofsted inspection outcome, it examines the role of ‘super head’ leadership in embedding neoliberal identities of success in failing schools. The research takes an original theoretical and methodological approach by exploring the role of myth in such ideologically driven practices. This proposes that mythical performances are observable in the positioning of head teachers as ‘rescuing heroes’ in failing schools and questions the monstrous effects of Ofsted-driven transformational practices on lived experience in school communities. Through a novel reading of the research data through the concept of plasticity, the thesis considers the interdependent relationship between discourse and mythical performativity in informing and sustaining ideological principles and normative social structures. It investigates how claims made to objectivity and scientific method in educational practices are, paradoxically, bolstered through enactments of mythical archetype. The research further examines the role of myth in naturalising neoliberal frameworks, rendering alternative socio-economic forms as invisible and absent from collective consciousness. This qualitative study revitalises its ethnographic roots by engaging with plasticity as method, informing a textured analysis of interview and documentary data secured from teaching staff, pupils, and operational documents at the school. Pupil responses develop investigation of identity and the heroic, providing points of comparison with the fabricated identity of neoliberal success modelled through the school leadership and its strategies of improvement. By proposing an interdependent relationship between myth, discourse, mythical performativity and ideology, this thesis extends understanding of the process of transforming failing schools and offers wider insight into structures that sustain social and economic power structures and inequalities.
  • An exploration of creativity in the lives of English teachers: Representing voices through found poetry

    Bamber, Sally; Jones, Luke; Matthews, Martin (University of Chester, 2020-10)
    This arts-based research sets out to explore the place of creativity in the lives of a group of English teachers in one secondary school in the north west of England. More specifically, it uses found poetry to examine creativity in the lives of English teachers who work within the context of an increasingly performative educational system. As well as interrogating the place of creativity in the lives of the participants, the study also explores how found poetry can be used as a research method to represent and analyse data and communicate research findings in a manner that is democratic and illuminating. The words that created the poems came from two semi-structured interviews with each participant. After the first interview, the participants were able to scrutinise and reflect upon the content of the found poems before returning for a second interview. This recursive process helped build confidence in the findings and gave a deeper understanding of the experiences of the participants in relation to creativity whilst eliciting further responses in the interview process itself. The findings suggest that English teachers have limited space to be creative, or to think differently in their teaching practice. The limited space to be creative comes from the normalising practices of a performance culture, but the restrictions are both real and self-imposed by the participants. There is perhaps a need to find a new space for English teachers to act, or think creatively and form notions of resistance in order to re-think English teacher identity.
  • PREOCCUPIED: The role of peacebuilding in formal education in the West Bank

    Evans, Martin; Wright, Anne-Marie; Arya-Manesh, Emma (University of Chester, 2021-01)
    This thesis is an ethnographic study of six teacher educators working in university settings in the West Bank, an Occupied Palestinian Territory. It explores these teacher educators’ perceptions, values, and attitudes about the role of peacebuilding in Formal Education (FE). It focuses particularly on the teacher educators’ practice, which is to train student teachers to be certified as competent to work in schools either managed or run by the Ministry of Education and Higher Education (MoEHE). The research shows that there are tensions surrounding the conceptualisation of the meaning of teacher competency among contributors to teacher education. The tension lies most noticeably between schools and universities. This thesis thus captures the (dis)continuities of an FE system caught between the conditions of colonial and military occupation and performative measures and strategies enforced by the MoEHE. These problems are compounded by the complex associations of FE with Palestinian liberation. From the expressions the teacher educators used to convey their ideas, metaphors provide a powerful analytical device. The thesis employs a narrative analysis to foreground these metaphors as more than a rhetorical device. The metaphors provide reflexive insight into the (extra)ordinary lives of the teacher educators and the specificities of the cultural and political context from which their understandings of peacebuilding arise. The data shows that the teacher educators have individual and shared tensions about the underlying principles of peace, which consequently inform the roles of peacebuilding in FE from complex and contradictory positions. These metaphors expose an FE system that is a victim and a perpetrator both of forms of violence, and of the complex conditions under which peacebuilding either thrives or is diminished. The data also shows that peacebuilding in FE is most contentious where there is a disconnect with social justice and a connection with tatbi’a (normalisation) and counterinsurgency. In its final analysis, this thesis draws on the perspectives of Johan Galtung, Paulo Freire and Pierre Bourdieu to disturb deep-rooted thinking about peacebuilding in the West Bank. As a consequence of exploring the data through these theoretical lenses, the thesis exposes deep fractures in thinking and beliefs which are perpetuated by deeply entrenched, competing discourses that cannot be easily resolved. This thesis encourages academics and policy makers in the fields of critical peace education and education in conflict to consider generative peacebuilding frameworks that focus on conflicts within Palestinian society as well as those arising from the Occupation, and see them as mutually reinforcing rather than treating them purely as separate issues.
  • Drama as an Ecotone in the Ecosystem of Primary Education

    Owens, Allan; Adams, Jeff; Piasecka, Shelley; Einarsson, Anneli (University of Chester, 2020-01)
    This thesis investigates the tensions that emerge as drama is implemented in the teaching at a primary school. The thesis analyses drama practice in relation to a rationalistic and a holistic theoretical framework, and employs the epistemological view that subjectification and socialization are as important as the qualification dimension in education. A metaphorical model was developed, Schooling–Ecotone–Art, in order to deepen the understanding of drama as a subject in relation to the educational discourse. The ecotone, a notion deriving from ecology, symbolizes drama and serve as a tool to explore the tensions created at the borders of the adjacent habitats. The study describes the developing diversity within the drama practice in relation to the staff’s teaching and the pupils’ learning and meaning making. The empirical data are gathered by field studies at a primary school in Sweden, during one year. A project was made possible by a grant from the local municipality, through which the school was able to engage in a collaborative project with a local culture centre in which teachers and drama pedagogues worked together on a weekly basis. The doctoral study was initiated by an invitation from the school and the culture centre. Anchored in critical ethnography, the data include observations, interviews with staff and pupils, video recordings, questionnaires and email correspondence. The findings reveal different levels of tensions as drama is implemented in the teaching, which reflects the materiality of the discursive order and institutional power in education. Further, the study demonstrates the levels of progression as drama is practiced regularly, in which carnival play was a factor in the initial turbulent phase, and thus a major challenge for the staff. The study suggests that the phases in the progress demonstrate that drama comprises a unique and subject-specific content, which is needed in a holistic epistemology in primary education. Additionally, the progress describes how diversity emerges in the staff’s teaching as well as in the pupils’ creative work and that questions of interculturality are illuminated. The study concludes that there is a need to deconstruct a rationalistic epistemology, and develop a holistic epistemology, in order to achieve a sustainable education. The thesis contributes with deepened knowledge of drama as a unique habitat, and the possibilitiesfor diversity asthe tensions created in relation to adjacent habitats, schooling and art, are viewed as possibilities rather than obstacles to avoid. The material being presented for examination is my own work and has not been submitted for an award of this or another HEI except in minor particulars which are explicitly noted in the body of the thesis. Where research pertaining to the thesis was undertaken collaboratively, the nature and extent of my individual contribution has been made explicit.
  • A new felt presence: Making and learning as part of a community of women feltmakers

    Adams, Jeff; Owens, Allan; Spry, Georgina C. (University of Chester, 2020-05)
    The purpose of this qualitative art-based autoethnographic research study is to examine the lived experience of contemporary feltmaking from both collective and individual perspectives and the relationship between personal practice and the learning that takes place in a community of shared practice. The thesis exists as an exhibition of feltworks alongside a written piece, which presents qualitative and arts-based data comprising of my own experiences documenting both my journey through treatment for stage three breast cancer and the learning and teaching taking place as a member of this female community of feltmakers. It explores the principles of tacit knowledge in feltmaking alongside the concept of flow as a key marker of mastery, incorporating an analysis of the collaborative learning elements which facilitate the process of its members’ transformation from novice to expert, within a broad base of abilities, skills and experience. The thesis begins with an examination of the history of feltmaking, and the learned traditions passed through cultural generations. This is followed by an exploration of textile ‘pockets’ in women’s history, examining patriarchy, privacy and interiority through a narrative. Within this context, shared felting projects are presented. The feltmakers’ pockets are displayed as Tripartite Helix, examining international and local felting techniques alongside shared privacy within the physical pockets, the three sections denoting elements of felting as a collective sense. My own work Hushed Reverberations explores privacy, interiority and its exposure to the exterior. My practice and autoethnographic mesearch research are embedded throughout the study to illuminate the experience of learning and teaching of feltmaking in order to appreciate the process as much more than mere material transformation. This art-based research establishes a connection between feltmaking, historical, patriarchal and cultural influences and an autoethnographic, mesearch research methodology. The thesis reveals the affiliation between personal narrative through feltmaking craft and biography as a relational connection between shared journeys, intertwining autoethnographic learning, feltmaking, narrative and cultural history. It also reveals that learning in a collective does not take place simply through increasing participation in an experience, but is also fuelled by pedagogical, social and historical factors. The research contributes to an understanding and an expression of how the process of feltmaking can be used as a way of communicating and conveying a personal journey which can provide the means for individuals to support themselves and each other. However, the basis of the women's experience in crafts cannot be explained in isolation from the environments in which they take place but must be connected through culture, history and gender. The thesis concludes that women can use feltmaking to make sense of life-changing events and adversities, and to begin the healing process, bringing comfort and sense of community during periods of turmoil.
  • Policy 'making' discourses in University sponsored Academy Schools: Radical educational reform through autonomy, accountability and partnership

    Hulme, Rob; Garratt, Dean; Cracknell, David; Hart, Melissa (University of Chester, 2016-05-31)
    Sponsored academies schools were set up in England to raise educational aspiration and achievement specifically in areas of high social deprivation through independence from Local Authority control, and freedoms in governance, staffing structures, space and time, as well as pedagogy and curriculum. The study considers the current education White Paper, 'The Importance of Teaching' (Dffi, 2010), and the discourse of academy school actors in relation to policy rhetoric of educational improvement through autonomy and accountability along with new forms of partnership and collaboration. Given the recent 2015 change in U.K. government from Coalition to Conservative it is a pertinent time to consider current policy discourses as we move into the next phase of educational policy development. This study was informed by 'policy sociology' (Ozga, 2000: 144) illuminating local academy school enactment and critique of broader social change. The study also used Foucault's (1991) notion of 'governmentality' and the disciplinary policy technologies of normalization, dividing practices and surveillance as a theoretical lens to critically analyse academy school actor policy discourse. Throughout an 18 month period the researcher adopted semi embedded participation in two academies sponsored by a University Multi Academies Trust (MAT). A post modem form of radical hermeneutics (Caputo, 1987) was utilised whereby written, verbal and non verbal communication construction and analysis was subsumed into a written account. A reflexive research approach highlighted ethical dilemmas and tensions. The research illuminated a complex discourse of academy actor freedoms and constraints. A 'no excuse' for poor educational performance adopted at academy meso level contrasted with teacher discourse of pupil deficit, failure by self and others, and a perpetual state of low confidence, along with some resistance to change. The sponsor and Academies Trust focused on securing a share of the teacher training market and business survival as opposed to providing direct support for educational improvement. Disciplinary policy technologies were reinforced by the Academies Trust and Partnership Academy as meso level government conduits (Glatter, 1999; Lubienski, 2009), further legitimized by technologies of self. The Partnership Academy encouraged an Ofsted based 'gaming behaviour' as opposed to one directly focused on educational improvement. Autonomy was only prevalent in discourse where teachers saw their professional role as being separate from those dominated by performance regimes. Despite successes in raising educational performance academy achievement above Ofsted base levels had not been established. A business based corporate image, and new building at one academy, and positive discourse of student recruitment existed, yet staff recruitment and retention was surrounded by a discourse of mistrust, competition, and coping with change. There was a limited discourse of changed academy reputation, curriculum development, pedagogic innovation and professional collaboration, and tensions existed between traditional and creative practice.
  • The Plastic Ceiling Project: Representing the Pain of Mothers that Work and Study

    Adams, Jeff; Bamber, Sally; Misra, Sarah (University of Chester, 2019-08-27)
    My previous research around mothers that work and study, showed that many of their everyday, emotional experiences could be regarded as “unseen” in that they were routine, invisible and unnoticed and were often played out in private. For those experiences that could be regarded as emotionally painful, their “unseen” nature was further complicated as tendencies toward denial, withdrawal, and self-isolation were common reactions to deeply felt emotional pain. Thus, these experiences were frequently concealed in two ways as they were both “unseen” and hidden. A fundamental principle of feminist research is to liberate by exposing, that which is concealed and suppressed and to make feminine lived experiences visible. Modern, feminist research uses a wide range of research methods and in recent years, arts-based and narrative research have emerged as disciplines from within the broader field of qualitative research. Feminist scholars have found visual, narrative inquiry methods to be useful tools in obtaining rich data from traditionally marginalised perspectives and have stressed the transformative opportunities for the development of continuities between the “unseen” and the “seen” through potential to reveal and expose hidden oppression, promote empathetic understanding of the ways in which people experience their worlds and present new opportunities for communication, protest and campaign I believe that artists and ethnographers often share strong, emancipatory affinities through their research intentions and so could productively collaborate and learn from each others’ practices. An artist-practitioner and mother myself, I also had responsibility for leading the postgraduate teacher training provision in a local university full-time and studying for a doctorate and I became interested in the potential of using arts-based, ethnographic research to investigate and tell the stories of other working/studying parents. I was particularly interested in findings from previous research which had identified that whilst all parents routinely reported similar issues around practical issues of balancing multiple roles; the painful, emotional aspects of managing life as a working/studying mother were exclusively female territory and had been described by almost every female participant as pernicious, significant and disempowering aspects of their lived experiences. I set up The Plastic Ceiling Project with the intention of developing an arts-based research methodology unequivocally and explicitly grounded in emancipatory feminist principles. My initial research question was simply; “why do mothers that work and study often report painful emotions such as guilt, shame, frustration, anger, and loneliness?” This work is an exploration of The Plastic Ceiling Project and its effectiveness in realising these challenges.
  • Travelling to the top of the mountain: The use of found poetry to explore Palestinian and Arab teachers' perceptions and experience of their participation in a drama in education summer school

    Owens, Allan; Adams, Jeff; Bamber, Sally; Alsawayfa, Fadel (University of Chester, 2019-07-16)
    The purpose of this qualitative arts-based research study is to illustrate the potential of using found poetry to explore Palestinian and Arab teachers' perceptions and the experience of their participation in a drama in education summer school. The study sought to gain insight of how nine teachers from Palestine and Arab countries start their journey in learning drama and how they make sense of their experience. This study is grounded in narrative inquiry and interpretivist standpoint theories and presents teachers‘ lived experience in poetic form. In this study, I adopted a qualitative case study design paired with poetic research methodology to interpret and analyse the teachers‘ experiences in depth. The study uses semi-structured interviews and the reflective journals of nine participants in the drama in education summer school. Three key themes were identified: space and place, coexistence and the power of drama. I created forty found data poems representing these thematic findings in the words of participants. The poems were briefly analysed to open discussion and allow the readers to make their own interpretations. Found poetry was illustrated as a means of data analysis and re-presentation in qualitative research. The analysis and re-presentation of the teachers‘ interviews and reflective journals through found poetry led to an in-depth understanding of their experience. The findings of the study revealed that the summer school had a positive impact upon them. It offered them an opportunity to interact, communicate and coexist. The findings also revealed that drama had a positive impact upon teachers personally and professionally. It is concluded that researchers, education policymakers and teachers may benefit from understanding the experience of teachers‘ participation in the drama in education summer school through poetry.
  • Crafting Collaborations of Art and School: Contextual Studies in Sweden

    Adams, Jeff; Owens, Allan; Cedervall, Sofia (University of Chester, 2020-03-15)
    This study explores relations, experiences and processes between art and school collaborations at policy, organisational and individual levels. This is done through a historical account of policy documents as well as a contemporary qualitative study. The study focuses on two professional theatres in Sweden with extensive experience working with schools. In that context, professions of actors, teachers and drama pedagogues participating in collaborative projects, their roles, craftsmanship and a community of practice (CoP) as well as their encounters as professionals have been investigated. The study results show that theatres collaborate with schools because of their ruling policy and aim of reaching all children. Schools collaborate due to policy requirements, own interest and improvement. Drama pedagogues are much involved in the whole creative process, and the profession seems to be heading for a higher status at theatres. The individuals collaborate because it supports the creative process and the aim of their craftsmanship and/or personal mission. For drama pedagogues and artists, collaboration becomes a tool in itself, but for teachers the arts become a tool. The teachers have a personal interest in and experience with the arts. Encounters with professional artists can encourage teachers to use or continue to use artistic skills in teaching. The actors are rooted in the craft of their art and values driven in their wish to have encounters with children and youth. The drama pedagogue’s roles as mediator and confidant are important for the success of a collaborative project but also risky due to information accommodated. All encounters in this study were strongly framed by a drama pedagogic CoP. Within the frame, rooms of artistry based on the actors’ CoP occur. These rooms indicate the creation of a regime of competence, a shared CoP where the professionals are able to encounter each other as equals and share a creative and social process of meaning making. The fictional part of the study indicates that the drama pedagogue can become a border guard as much as a bridge in collaboration, standing in the way of teachers and actors directly sharing and transmitting valuable knowledge. A dialogue on aims, practice and competence become crucial for the professionals in order to achieve cooperation and thus learning.