Supporting primary teachers to address loss and death in the classroom: a case study of an interdisciplinary, creative pedagogical intervention using education, children’s literature, architecture/design and the arts

Kate Adams, Sibylle Erle, Sophie Ungerer, Marina Sossi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Schools inevitably face difficult discussions with children about loss and death, irrespective of whether it is factored into formal teaching. A range of societal factors in many countries, not least a lack of training, compound to leave many teachers unprepared to manage these sensitive issues. Whilst resources and guidance are widely available, there is a gap in generating pedagogical tools which are underpinned by solid theoretical grounding. This article addresses that gap, reporting on a case study of staff (n=12) working in an infant school in England, where an interdisciplinary project was implemented to explore whether creative pedagogies could empower staff to address these difficult topics with young children. Contextualised within thanatology, (the study of death and its social practices), an intervention was designed and co-created with teachers synthesising education, literature, architecture/design and the arts. The paper details its theoretical and practical development, and the participants’ responses to it. The article concludes that despite initial ambivalence among some school staff about using creative pedagogies, responses at the end of the study were positive and confidence had increased. The need for theoretically sound approaches is supported as part of the long-advocated calls for mandatory death/life education, although the potential dissonance between academics and practitioners’ views about the value of theory is acknowledged. However, the paper argues that co-created interdisciplinary projects such as this can help bridge theory-practice divides. Furthermore, they can offer practical spaces for reflection and confidence building in time-effective ways to benefit teachers and children.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages24
JournalPastoral Care in Education
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2 Apr 2024

Keywords

  • Picture books
  • bereavement
  • death education
  • co-creation;
  • pedagogical tools;

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