Shaking my practice : navigating curriculum, aesthetic and social curiosity. (2020)
Type of ContentElectronic Thesis or Dissertation
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
PublisherUniversity of Canterbury
AuthorsBrown, Nicholas Patrickshow all
This thesis describes a journey, one in which a mid-career teacher interrogates his current teaching pedagogy and practice, his approach to drama and theatre processes and products, and his relationships with his students. It examines teacher and student growth and development, through an application of specific curricula and arts-based research methodologies and reflective practice. It reports changed practice on the part of the teacher and increased student agency and autonomy as they are engaged in workshop and rehearsal.
The research findings in this thesis include an articulation of how a meaningful space can be created – in and through drama workshop and rehearsal – that enables students and teacher to engage in a co-constructed approach to a drama product. The recognition and prioritising of student voice is the foundation to textuality in the spoken parts of the dramatic product, as well as the stimulus for physical action within the performances.
The dramatic product is made up of three rehearsed and performed educational-theatrical projects, co-constructed with students and adult collaborators. The first project takes place within the relatively safe space of the drama studio; however, the second two projects are full-scale dramatic performances, each having a season at the school where the research was undertaken. These second two projects also find meaning through their relationship with a public audience, drawn from the wider school community. All three projects draw upon key factors from The Arts in the New Zealand Curriculum (MoE, 2000), as well as the core principles of The New Zealand Curriculum (MoE, 2007).
The rationale for this work was to enable both teacher and student to engage in a fresh, authentic and innovative workshop and rehearsal paradigm, integrating process and product. The research sought to address a reported experience of teachers in Aotearoa New Zealand, who are oftentimes frustrated in the attempt to reconcile a false dichotomy. This dichotomy is between executing NCEA assessment demands whilst at the same time creating drama products that are socially relevant (fostering biculturalism, multiculturalism and pluralism), and position the student at the heart of the experience and dramatic product.
The locus of the research is in a boys’ school on the North Shore of Auckland, an area of relative socio-economic privilege. However, these students though privileged are also culturally undernourished, and lack intellectual and creative tools that allow them to fully engage with the complexity of their context: the bicultural, the multicultural and the pluralistic. Part of the rationale for this work was to culturally enrich students through dramatic play, by introducing them to difference, and to engage them in intellectual, creative and co-constructed dramatic processes and theatrical performances. This, in turn, would allow them to experience the ‘other’, and gain empathy for a perspective removed from their own.
The methodology is one that combined both elements of arts-based research and reflective practice. The research involves two interconnected layers, one of which was a series of dramatic processes that led to three distinct performance products (the arts-based), and the second being a researcher’s evolving awareness and criticality of his teacher-director practice in a school context (the reflective practice). The participants were high school students, aged between 14 and 18 years-of-age, plus teacher collaborators and external advisors including a Māori cultural advisor in the second project.