How do children understand prayer in a church school? A video-based, constructivist grounded theory study using a godly play approach

PhD Thesis


Southward, J. 2021. How do children understand prayer in a church school? A video-based, constructivist grounded theory study using a godly play approach . PhD Thesis Canterbury Christ Church University School of Humanities and Education Studies
AuthorsSouthward, J.
TypePhD Thesis
Qualification nameDoctorate of Education
Abstract

There is little in the qualitative research literature about how children understand prayer. Previous research has tended to be from a psychological or empirical point of view enumerating the how and why of prayer, but not getting to the nub of how children understand prayer.

This thesis draws on the work of Berryman who developed Godly Play, a pedagogy for teaching about the Christian faith. It focuses on wondering about a Biblical story followed by free response work time which allows the children to make meaning from the story in their own ways. Berryman suggests that children play at the edges of understanding in relationship with themselves, God, others and nature. The pedagogy of Godly Play was adapted as a research method for this study.

This study is located in a Church of England and Roman Catholic Aided Church school and focuses on the understanding of prayer in a small group of children aged 7 and 8. The study also investigates the question of what adaptations need to be made to make use of Godly Play as a research method. The children and researcher were involved in Godly Play style sessions based on the Lord’s Prayer. These sessions were videoed and analysed using Constructivist Grounded Theory.

This study has found that these children understand prayer as a communication between themselves, God and people who have passed away. There are key relationships between God, Self, Others, Nature and Creation, the Church and the Bible. These relationships are based on Love. Nature and Creation are important for children as a means of expressing their ideas about prayer. Furthermore, the findings in this study confirm and extend Berryman’s ideas about how children are in relationship with God. Lastly, it is concluded that Godly Play can be adapted successfully as a research method with some changes to the underlying epistemology and accommodation of ethical considerations as to the use of children’s responses.

KeywordsChildren; Prayer; Understanding; Church school
Year2021
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Publication process dates
Deposited11 Aug 2021
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https://repository.canterbury.ac.uk/item/8y65x/how-do-children-understand-prayer-in-a-church-school-a-video-based-constructivist-grounded-theory-study-using-a-godly-play-approach

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