Higher-degree research being undertaken by Tamara Sweetman




Professor Michael Anderson and Dr Kelly Freebody

Thesis title:

Investigating home: film learning through an inquiry based approach



Project description

We are all on a journey of exploration of finding ourselves, but it is much more layered, physically isolated, emotionally displaced, culturally intertwined for boarding students, away from their families and communities. This research is focused on enabling an opportunity for boarding students to create films about their identity, and what ‘home’ means to them (their two worlds – boarding school and their rural Australian home). The research aims to find out whether using film as a tool allows these boarding students to communicate their stories. It explores the questions of; how can we as educators provide a sense of ‘voice’ and self-expression to share these students stories by inquiring together what ‘home’ means to them? How could film as a visual medium be used by these students to share these stories and what impact would it have on them? Does the communication of their stories of ‘home’ and their experiences change their sense of identity and belonging? How do these students navigate a home of privilege and their other spaces? This research investigates four case studies which consist of Indigenous and non-Indigenous students from an independent Sydney school, engaging in a film making process. As teacher-researcher the process of creating these films of ‘home’ is explored through qualitative semi-structured interviews and ethnographic observation.

Tamara Sweetman is the Drama Coordinator at an independent K – 12 school where she oversees the Drama teaching and learning programs. She has held other significant leadership roles within the school, including leading learning in the Middle School and overseeing Pastoral Care. She pioneered the teaching of film at the school five years ago, in creating their film festival as well as other film projects in the school. Tamara has also initiated various co-curricular opportunities including Artist in Residence programs, Theatresports and Shakespeare Festivals. She was the recipient of the Parent’s Association Grant for a research tour to New York to investigate how film can enhance a learning culture. Tamara has always sought to create opportunities in her teaching career for students to tell stories, stories that are of importance to them and to enable platforms for student’s self-expression.

Professional and community roles

  • Drama NSW Committee, Vice-President, Professional Learning
  • Australian Teachers of Media Committee, Professional Learning
  • Sydney Theatre Company, Member of the Professional Educational Advisory Board