“But I can’t teach that!” Stories of curriculum reform in The Arts

Year: 2016

Author: Dwyer, Rachael

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Curriculum reform is a period of change for schools and those who learn and work within them: an opportunity for renewal and innovation, but equally, a potential source of stress, uncertainty and anxiety. As the work of Cheryl Craig (2001; 2003; 2006; 2007) has highlighted, there can by contradictions between schools’ and systems’ officially sanctioned narratives and the lived experience of teachers. In the case of the Australian Curriculum: The Arts, the journey towards implementation has presented a number of challenges to existing practices in terms of who should be responsible for teaching the arts, which arts and how much. Broader questions of why and how tend to be overlooked as schools and teachers grapple with the day-to-day realities of timetables, working conditions and crowded curriculum pressures. These issues are explored in a current research project that seeks to understand the impact of the curriculum reform on existing arts programs in schools, as well as look at what changes are being made to meet the new requirements. The project will develop a series of case studies that demonstrate possible approaches to implementing the curriculum.This paper is in three parts: I begin by describing the policy framework and practices associated with teaching of the arts in Queensland, with a particular focus on the development of “folk policies” – approaches and structures that are agreed upon as “the way it must be done” despite an absence of legislation or policy to mandate such practices. Second, I briefly consider some of the preliminary stories from the ongoing research. Third, I present a reflexive autoethography of my own entanglement on this landscape, and the ethics of simultaneously advocating and researching.