Educational drama in the teaching of education for sustainability

McNaughton, Marie Jeanne (2004) Educational drama in the teaching of education for sustainability. Environmental Education Research, 10 (2). pp. 139-155. ISSN 1350-4622 (

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In this paper, I describe part of my research project that examines the use of Educational Drama in Education for Sustainability in the upper stages of the primary school (10- and 11-year-olds). Central to the research is a small-scale qualitative research study. Here, I describe the educational focus of the study and outline the methodology. Central to the study was a series of drama lessons (taught by me) based on environmental themes. The lessons link with some of the key aims in Education for Sustainability - to help young people to develop awareness, knowledge and concepts, to encourage positive attitudes and personal lifestyle decisions and to help them to acquire action skills in and for the environment. The locus is within the Scottish education system. A number of key data were generated during the teaching and evaluation of the lessons. These take the form of field notes, children's evaluations of their work and learning, observation schedules, taped interviews with participants and observers and videotapes of the lessons. The analysis of the data is ongoing, but already there is substantial evidence to suggest that the drama was instrumental in helping the children to achieve the learning outcomes set for the lessons. Some of that evidence is presented here. I suggest that the active, participative learning central to drama is particularly useful for allowing children to develop skills in communication, collaboration and expressing ideas and opinions. Also, the immersion in the imagined context and narrative, integral to the 'stories' in the drama, allows the children to feel sympathy for and empathy with people who are affected by environmental issues and problems. In giving the children a context for research and in helping them to plan solutions and to suggest alternatives, the drama allows the participants opportunities to rehearse active citizenship and facilitates learning in Education for Sustainability.