Drama in education

Drama in Education, also referred to as Creative Drama or Process Drama, is a pedagogical process that seeks to balance both the form and content of drama. In doing this, participants can engage with an element of living through the drama, whereby they bring themselves to the dramatic experience to learn about issues and concepts raised in the drama and through drama.

Importantly drama in education relies on engaging participants in fiction – fiction that they are creating themselves – and this provides a form of protection, which offers an educational, rather than a therapeutic perspective. Drama in this sense creates a space for participants to understand the world in which they live.

While the starting point of a drama lesson can come from a narrative or concept within the curriculum, the emphasis is always on examining the human aspects, providing an ‘other’ to help understand ourselves. Looking at actions, events – linked to the texts, historical period or socio-political area being studied – within a wider context enables young people to see complex connections and social forces impacting on people and the unfolding of the events.

  • Protecting the students into role:  Participants can step into other people’s shoes and understand their perspective and position better. But students need to be protected into roles so that the experience does not become superficial and they can really engage with another persons situation.
  • ‘Making’ fictional situations: It is an important component of drama in education that the participants and the facilitator are making the fictional situation or story together.


  • Engaging with problems: It is useful to have a problem that is based on a human contradiction – there is no simple solution, or clear ‘good’ and ‘bad’ roles – but contradictions that offer themselves for examination. Through the play the audience – or in our case the participants – can engage safely with the problem as it is happening in the fictional world and not in reality.
  • Creating the ‘other’: Drama in Education relies on offering some form of the other to students – this can be another person, or situation, or even an object. The central problem of the drama needs to be expressed in this ‘other’ – it needs to be made tangible through a specific situation which could contain objects, people or images expressing the problem.
  • Situations in context: Although we all know that the situation of the drama is created/fictional (even if it is based on a real situation) all of us have to suspend disbelief and think about it ‘as if’ it was real. 
  • Slowing down time – doing and making meaning: In order to explore human situations drama aims to slow down time, so participants can make meaning of what is happening.

Drama in Education can be an extremely useful resource in working with students who are from marginalised communities. As drama is based on exploring human situations students who might not be strong academically also have the chance to take a central role. They can be experts of life and why people do what they do, even if they might not be best at some of the school subjects.

As drama is problem centred and invites people to express opinion rather than facts it offers a safe space for students to express opinion and to communicate with each other. It is a social activity with a community working in groups and discussing and creating something together. This social experience can help in integrating different cultures and backgrounds.

Drama builds empathy – it allows students to understand that there are many different reasons for people behaving in certain ways, and also that the same situation could be seen from many different perspectives. In the best cases drama allows students to step into the situation of others, hence offering a felt understanding.