Performance theory and educational research: Locating the teacher- performer in postmodern times

Year: 1994

Author: Curtin, Pamela

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Although it is not uncommon for public action to be declared a performance, the association of performance theory with educational research is still relatively unexplored. Pineau (1994) stresses that until recently the notion that teaching is performance has appeared to imply that performance is an outcome, and teaching is an art or skill that must be learned.

This paper endeavours to draw together performance theories as interpreted across a variety of disciplines. It looks at roles and routines effected in the classroom, visual representations and the negotiation with Difference. It argues that whilst performance is an outward display it is not only an outcome. Rather, it is also an internal process of which the teacher can learn to be consciously aware. It is this invisible performance that enables empowerment or disempowerment, and the construction of power/knowledge discourses within the classroom.

From a postmodern perspective, performance requires learned quasi- reflexivity, and practised reflection. It presupposes that action on reflection considers contextual variables (both spatial and temporal, and in relation with the Other), and that only through self- examination (recognising that we cannot fully eliminate bias) can we begin to negotiate positive and productive levels of interaction across differences.