Artistry, identity and the drama teacher: a case study using performance ethnography as mode of enquiry
AffiliationMelbourne Graduate School of Education
Document TypeMasters Research thesis
Access StatusOpen Access
© 2017 Kelly McConville
Drama is a compulsory subject in secondary schools in Victoria, Australia, with a rich history of dedicated and passionate educators. Despite this, little research has been done in recent times that investigates the professional lives of these drama teachers, and even fewer studies use drama as a method through which to do so. This research project reveals that drama teachers often experience feelings of being perceived by others as teaching a subject which is inferior, and whose value to schools lies more in extra-curricular activities than in the academic realm. This can result in teachers who are marginalised, yet whose time outside of the classroom is in demand. This thesis presents the results of a qualitative case study, which investigated the experiences of seven drama teachers in Victoria, Australia who engaged in a process of ethnographic performance making about their professional lives, drawing on their own lived experiences as data. Interview transcripts, participant journals, creative artefacts and researcher observations were analysed to interrogate the responses and reflections of these teachers as they undertook a process of generating, analysing and presenting their lived experiences through performance. Findings from the case study suggested that the process of ethnographic performance-making was invaluable to these teachers, bringing them to new understandings about their professional lives, as well providing insights into the context of their work. The ethnographic process gave them agency to find a voice through which to communicate the importance of their subject to others. Furthermore, it was found that the role of the audience was significant; the audience for the associated live performance came to new understandings about the drama teachers’ role and subject, and their responses energised the drama teachers to continue to advocate for the importance of their subject and identity within the school . This study forms part of a growing body of research on the identity of the drama teacher, and contributes a crucial new dimension to the scholarship that supports professional development for teachers more broadly. Furthermore, it highlights how ethnographic performance-making can provide a framework through which all teachers may reflect on, and come to meaningful understandings of, their professional lives and possibilities for the future.
Keywordsdrama education; drama; education; teacher identity; performed research; performance ethnography; performed ethnography
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