The enactment of drama in the Arts F-10 curriculum: connections and controversies

PhD Thesis


Watson, Marthy Ella. 2021. The enactment of drama in the Arts F-10 curriculum: connections and controversies. PhD Thesis Doctor of Philosophy. University of Southern Queensland. https://doi.org/10.26192/Z1GM-TH96
Title

The enactment of drama in the Arts F-10 curriculum: connections and controversies

TypePhD Thesis
Authors
AuthorWatson, Marthy Ella
SupervisorDanaher, Patrick
Burke, Katie
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
Qualification NameDoctor of Philosophy
Number of Pages340
Year2021
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.26192/Z1GM-TH96
Abstract

Curriculum enactment is considered a complicated process of mediating policy into practice, and is often viewed as an isolated, linear process controlled by human agency (Ball, 2016; Fullan, 2014; Reid, 2005). In this thesis, I argue that the space between policy and practice in the Australian Curriculum: The Arts Foundation – Year 10 is messy, multi-layered, entangled and complex. This study investigated the Australian Curriculum: The Arts Foundation – Year 10 curriculum and how the junior secondary drama curriculum was translated from national policy to enacted educational outcomes at state and classroom levels.

The Australian Curriculum: The Arts Foundation – Year 10 has been available for implementation in schools across Australia since the beginning of 2015. Despite the positive response to the arts curriculum at the time, it was noted that it was difficult to predict how the curriculum would be enacted to ensure that every child in Australia would have access to quality arts education (ACARA, 2012a). But what did this mean for the enactment of the drama curriculum in Australia? How did the stakeholders, in order to enact the curriculum, attend to practice and identify the tensions arising in this space? And what might a drama curriculum be, in that enactment, across the multiple educational sites in the Australian context? Would this enactment look, feel and seem the same in different sites? Such were the provocative questions motivating this study.

The study traced and mapped the trajectory of the enactment of drama within curriculum agencies, educational organisations and the middle years of schooling (Years 7 and 8) in Queensland schools. These sites included the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA), the Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority (QCAA), the Department of Education (DoE) in Queensland, Independent Schools Queensland (ISQ), the Queensland Catholic Education Commission (QCEC) and four secondary schools in Brisbane, Queensland, representing Catholic, Independent and State schools.

The study drew on the theoretical and methodological sensibilities of actor-network theory (Callon, 1986; Latour, 2005; Law, 2004) and case study (Stake, 1995) to investigate the entanglement of curriculum policy and curriculum enactment. The analytical approach of actor-network theory illuminated the associations between people (human) and material ii objects (non-human) (Latour, 2005) actors. The study followed the human and non-human actors during network tracing to reveal how associations were formed to make visible the effects and consequences of the enactment process. Whilst this distinction between the human and the non-human may seem inconsequential, it brought forward the critical roles played by all actors (Law, 2009).

Tracing the networks whereby the drama curriculum was enacted revealed slippage and spaces of struggle. As these stories in the network overlapped and appeared in different networks, the effects of how actors influenced one another in their entanglement to implement the drama curriculum became visible. Rhizomatic constructed maps were constructed for each chapter to reveal the ceaseless forming of connections between sites and entities. This allowed the reader to visualise curriculum enactment in a non-hierarchical way to observe “the fabric of the rhizome” (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, p. 25). Here connections between actors were observed to untangle the connections and controversies of the enactment of drama, and attended to the research question of how the drama curriculum was mediated and enacted in the different sites.

The study contributed to the educational field and, in particular, to analysing the curriculum enactment of drama, as it is the first study in Australia to follow the junior secondary drama curriculum from intended to enacted curriculum in different sites. The use of actor-network theory as theoretical and methodological sensibilities ruptured the traditional sociological assumptions about knowledge, subjectivity and the social. Lingering in this space and pondering the tangled practices yielded the appreciation for the precarious and uncertain nature of curriculum enactment. The findings provided openings for further conversations to explore the mediation of drama in educational sites.

KeywordsAustralian Curriculum, actor-network theory, curriculum enactment, drama curriculum, educational policy
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020390201. Education policy
360499. Performing arts not elsewhere classified
390101. Creative arts, media and communication curriculum and pedagogy
390199. Curriculum and pedagogy not elsewhere classified
Byline AffiliationsSchool of Education
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