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Speaking Through a Dead Bird: Using Art for Emotional and Communicative Accessibility in an A-level Classical Literature Classroom



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This paper explores how the viewing and creating of art improved accessibility for students with emotional and communicative learning needs in an A-Level classical literature classroom. Motivated by my own classroom, a review of the literature reaffirmed concerns that students with special education needs/disabilities (SEND) - in particular autism spectrum condition and anxiety - are at a disadvantage in being able to demonstrate the key skills required by the A-Level Classical Civilisation exam board. The literature review also demonstrated that although art therapy has seen great success in improving accessibility, this success has not yet been integrated as part of a curriculum-based intervention. This small-scale, action research project realised a teaching sequence developed by both participant and researcher, that saw students examine Homer’s Odyssey through active engagement in visual art. Findings suggested that using art as an exploratory mode improved accessibility for students with emotional and communicative learning needs, and henceforth improved their ability to demonstrate their understanding in line with the exam specification. However, the findings also raised further research questions of how educators can allow for emotional differentiation in the classroom. The project champions the inclusion of people with disabilities into the discussion of accessibility, sharing the experience of participants with SEND and myself as an author with disabilities.



Accessibility, art therapy, Classics, A-level, Literature, SEND

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Cambridge Educational Research e-Journal (CERJ)

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CERJ, Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge

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