Beginning teachers' feel for the game: dancing the data

Year: 2017

Author: Ludecke, Michelle

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This paper outlines how I employ art-based methods to explore and represent researched phenomena. The presentation begins with a video of my recent dance work 'maelstrom'. The ambiguous title of the dance work leaves it open to interpretation. Based on research into beginning teachers' identity transformation on entering the profession, the dance work is an analogy for forms of professional induction, socialization or initiation. The dance work and discussion are framed within Bourdieu's notion of 'practical sense' and more particularly his discussion around the 'feel for the game' (Bourdieu, 1990), and Foucault's understanding of power and the different modes by which human beings are made subjects (Foucault, 1982).

Using the dance work as a stimulus, I discuss the perceived problem of professional culture(Cherubini, 2009), that continues to impact on the socialization of subjects such as beginning teachers, through enculturation-the role culture plays in validating the career path of a teacher. My research centers on the liminal spaces in such cultures (Turner, 1994), and how professionals experience the effects of power early in their career. In particular, I delve into the dichotomy educators experience, in the liminal space, around how power and opposition to the effects of power make individuals subjects: both subject to someone else by control and dependence, and tied to one's own identity by a conscience or self-knowledge (Foucault, 1982).

In this paper I detail the methods involved in dancing the data (Bagley & Cancienne, 2002; Ludecke, 2015); beginning with generating and analyzing data from which the choreography and music composition evolved, to the processes of rehearsing and performing the work. Data was generated from research into beginning teachers' early career experiences of transition to the profession; my own parallel experiences of the publish or perish phenomenon in early career academia; the process of creating the dance work; and was additionally inspired by visual representations found in social media such as 'Bored Teachers; The struggle is real' and 'Shit Academics Say'. I highlight the congruence between the research phenomenon and the research process, in order to create an embodied representation of the relationships between political structures that ignore individuals by looking only at the interests of the totality, and forms of resistance from the individual.