‘Always in the process of becoming’ (Freire, 1998) How five early career drama teachers build their worlds through language and discourse

Alison O'Grady

PhD thesis, conferred 2016

This thesis is concerned with the way early career drama teachers utilise, adapt, challenge, absorb and assimilate the big Discourses of drama in the process of developing their identities as new drama teachers. A key focus of the study is to capture the ways in which these drama teachers use language to talk about the work they do as teachers and the effect of their ideological predispositions on the way they recruit and teach drama pedagogy, in order to improve the life chances of the students they teach. The study examines the ways that the early career teachers conceptualised their role as drama teachers and to what extent the discourse of social justice shaped, influenced and informed their professional identity as teachers. As the early career teachers wend their way through the classroom and their new practices, they find their ideological alignments are tested and challenged by the work they do and the schools and systems that they teach in. This study endeavours to understand and provide insight into the complexities faced by the early career at this critical juncture of their careers as drama teachers.

The study reveals that the early career drama teachers conceptualised their role as teachers, with deference to the part that social justice played in shaping their identity and how this was influential in the way they taught their students about, ‘knowing the world’ (Harris, 2013). The study also found the early career teachers’ personal proclivities and subjectivities ideologically aligned with some of the big Discourses that are privileged by the drama community generally.

Supervisor: Dr Kelly Freebody