Towards a pedagogy of Clown

Deborah Herridge

Research output: Contribution to conferencePoster


This study is part of on-going doctoral research into outstanding science teaching in primary schools and seeks to develop a transformative pedagogy of teaching based on paidic and ludic principles (Caillois, 1958; Kendrick, 2011; Gaulier, 2016;). Unleashing your ‘inner clown’ as a pedagogy is not about being funny. ‘Clown’ is used here as an archetype, an embodiment of dualities of silly and serious, play and work, and in the classroom context, as an agent for transformation through imagination, learning and play.

This poster reports on work completed to identify models of classroom delivery based on the dynamic principles of play embodied in traditional and modern ideas of Clown (Bala, 2010).

The idea of ‘Serious Play’, that which is creative, liminal and embraces uncertainty, has been developed recently in many industries as a vehicle for problem solving and communication in work related contexts (Schrage, 2000; Lego, 2017). I seek to deconstruct the more ancient idea of ‘Clown’ as an embodiment of serious play in a classroom context and to identify and exemplify strategies and techniques that can be used to inform effective practice.

The research question central to the poster is
•How do recognised outstanding teachers of science embody the ideas of “Clown’ in their practice?

This study is situated in the context of Initial Teacher Education in the UK and focuses on the development of a model of practice devised from studying films of primary science lessons and reflective dialogue from teachers featured in these.

From an analysis of the films, a model of pedagogy based on the emerging commonalities between all participants has been devised.
Bala, M. (2010) The Clown, Jung Journal, 4:1, 50-71,
Caillois, R. (2001) Man, Play and Games. University of Illinois Press, Chicago
Kendrick, L. (2011) A paidic aesthetic: an analysis of games in the ludic pedagogy of Philippe Gaulier
 pp.72-85 Taylor and Francis online.
Logan, B. (2016) Once you can handle the insults, you begin: Inside Philippe Gauiler's Clown School. Guardian online August 2nd 2016
Schrage, M (2000) Serious Play: How the World's Best Companies Simulate to Innovate. Harvard Business School Press
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jun 2019
EventPrimary Science Education Conference 2019 - Edinburgh International Conference Centre, Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Duration: 6 Jun 20198 Jun 2019


ConferencePrimary Science Education Conference 2019
Abbreviated titlePSEC 2019
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


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