Towards Ethical Practice: A Narrative Self Study of Discourses in the Drama Classroom

Dueck, Kristopher Ryan
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Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research, University of Regina

This self-study explores some of the subject positions that are negotiated, produced and reinforced through discourses that circulate in the high school drama classroom where I teach. By exploring my areas of discomfort in the classroom as well as my self-definition as a teacher, I expose many of the ways I affect and am affected by technologies of power and governmentality that operate within the school. Drawing on a number of self-study research methods, through an interrogation of my intellectual history as well as through careful reflection of my past experiences as an educator, I illuminate some of the discursive practices, events and assumptions that have produced my subject positions. Subjects are discursively constructed through their role within educational institutions that too often reflect and reproduce hierarchical power relations that limit agency. Therefore, in this study I explore ways of gaining a degree of agency by reconciling my practice with my core ethical beliefs about learning. This work is grounded in post-structuralist theory and uses the work of Michel Foucault as a basis for an analysis of power relations in the context of my practice. Working with a group of Drama 10 students during the fall semester of 2011, I begin by charting the discursive practices through which students are produced as subjects. I go on to expose my areas of discomfort in the classroom as a means to identify what prevents me from encouraging students to take a more active role in the planning and facilitation of drama work. I comment upon spatiality or the ways in which the production of social space can act to control the behaviour of subjects. Throughout this work, I take stock of how my body, as the object of research, has been inscribed socially, politically and historically, gaining insights into the ways that it contributes to the subjectivation of students. In order to identify the role my body plays in producing students as subjects, I use reflective journals of my experiences in the drama classroom as my primary source of data collection. Reflecting upon the modes of subjectivity that produce us, I problematize the means through which people are produced as subjects, and therefore explore ways to expand agency by disrupting various subjectivities. This process is informed by my new understanding of ethics and exposes the need for me to refuse certain subjectivities, to challenge my areas of discomfort, and to adopt a kind of ethical and embodied practice that recognizes the connection between mind, body and emotion and which requires agency as a necessary tenet of its own subject-hood. Understanding the discourses that produce subject identity exposes a number of ways for educators to reposition their own practice in order to effectively share power with students in the classroom so that they will gain a deeper understanding of their subject positions and begin to transform their practice in order to develop more reciprocal relationships with students.

A Thesis Submitted to the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Education in Curriculum & Instruction, University of Regina. vi, 155 p.