Vol 8 No.1: April 2017
Welcome to Issue 8 of Drama Research.
This issue of Drama Research is unusual in that all the articles focus primarily on work with Primary age young people and in countries other than England: Turkey, the Republic of Ireland and Scotland.
Dr. Andrew Killen and Pauline Cooney in their article, Discovering the value of ‘not knowing’.. Using drama for a deeper understanding of pedagogy and learning, are taking their first excursion into research by focusing on the benefits for primary school teachers from using autoethnography methodology to support them in an ever increasing challenging working environment facing the profession, particularly in Scotland but also more widely.
For those not familiar with the term, autoethnography is an approach to research and writing that seeks to describe and systematically analyse personal experience in order to understand cultural experience. As a method, autoethnography is both process and product.
One of the key challenges to teachers that the researchers identify is the problem of a diminishing sense of autonomy. Government initiatives have created an environment largely of compliance with such initiatives; and so the concept of professional development has shifted from one of developing competence in subjects to one of knowledge of the latest requirements and how to achieve externally imposed targets.
This has resulted in an erosion of autonomy for teachers: within a wider context, a target‐driven instrumental process and framework have resulted in
‘reflective practice becoming a chimera, denuded of most of its original meaning’ (Bradbury et al 2010:194).
Their argument is that developing a process of autoethnography, especially while teaching a programme based on Drama, has the potential to restore this autonomy and sense of ownership of the teaching process and makes the process of reflective practice a meaningful undertaking. A teaching body which is disempowered, they argue, is a teaching body that is ineffective.
Their fascinating and well researched study outlines the components of an approach through autoethnography and Drama, the challenges for the teachers and how those challenges were met, and some of the issues that arise through the demands of rigorous reflection and self-reflection.