Document Type

Theses, Masters


Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence


5.4 SOCIOLOGY, Social sciences, Arts

Publication Details

Successfully submitted for the award of Master of Philosophy (M.Phil.) to the Technological University Dublin, 2013.


The aim of this study was to explore the impact that the Arts, (that is the study of visual art, drama, music, dance, creative writing, film and video expression), have on the educational process within Irish Traveller Educational Centres whose students are widely recognised as the most highly marginalised group within Irish society (Ireland, 1995; MacGreil, 1996; Zappone, 2002). Art programmes appear to induce a ‘flow’ state, as identified by Csikszentmihalyi, that he defines as a state of optimal awareness in which the subject becomes lost in the action of the moment and results in a heightened integration and differentiation of the psyche (Csikszentmihalyi, 1990). The Arts appear to ignite either through motivation or cognitive stimulation an increase in academic and social awareness (Fiske, 1999; Efland, 2002). An emergent action research design was used encompassing a survey of educational centres, interviews of art and drama teachers employed in the centres and focus groups of students attending the centres. The study confirmed the influence of ‘flow’ in generating creativity within a classroom setting and how this led to an acceleration of the growth of social and political consciousness and how this subsequently affected academic awareness in the population studied. There was also evidence of a decrease in xenophobia and a growth in empathy towards other ethnic groups. The Arts were also found to have an uplifting effect on the dejection that appeared to be quite prevalent amongst members of the focus groups which they blamed on the eradication of their native way of life. A link was also perceived to occur between the internalisation of Art practice that calls for a synthesis of perception, emotion and cognition resulting in a personalisation of learning that further engages the individuals’ cultural capital thus engaging the learner in a new entry path to learning. If the tenets of this thesis are correct, the status of Arts education may be recognised as a valuable asset in its own right and as an instrument of educational equity both for Travellers and other marginalised communities.