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ERIC Number: EJ1081760
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015
Pages: 16
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-1071-4413
Data-Driven Performativity: Neoliberalism's Impact on Drama Education in Western Australian Secondary Schools
Lambert, Kirsten; Wright, Peter R.; Currie, Jan; Pascoe, Robin
Review of Education, Pedagogy & Cultural Studies, v37 n5 p460-475 2015
In recent years, the much touted "difficult economic times" has resulted in a drastic reduction in arts and education funding in western capitalist nations (Fowles 2014; Henwood and Featherstone 2013; Murray and Erridge 2012; Smith 2013). Combined with this "age of austerity," schools have been subjected to decades of neoliberal education reform policies and programs such as the No Child Left Behind Act and the Race-to-the-Top funding in the United States and The Academies Act in the United Kingdom. These and other education "reforms" promote high-stakes testing, accountability, and competitive markets (Hursch 2007; Loh and Hu 2014). How does this zeitgeist of austerity and reform affect arts education at the local level where practice is enacted? Many curriculum changes have been made as a result of these reforms. Consequently schools are primarily judged on the grades students achieve for English, mathematics, science and sometimes languages. This often means that subjects such as art, dance, drama, and music are among the first to be cut from the curriculum resulting in fewer options for students, as schools direct students to focus on so-called "academic" courses in order to attain the requisite data to be ranked as a "good" school. By way of example, Appleton (2014) reports that in the UK, 23% of schools have dropped drama in favor of "academic subjects." To acquire additional information about this trend, the authors performed an ethnographic research project based on semi-structured interviews with 15 drama teachers and 11 of their ex-students in Western Australia across government, Catholic, and independent school systems. Their findings showed that these responses are not isolated to one or two countries. For example, in two of the 15 schools represented in the study, dance as a subject had been dropped despite a strong desire for it by students. Speculating on a reason for this change, one student noted, "I think with subjects like dance they look at other countries like Asia and say, 'They do all science and all maths and they don't focus on the arts. They're smarter so we need to compete with that'" (Elizabeth, student, independent school). Interestingly, this desire by students themselves to do more in the arts is consistent internationally (Palmer Wolf 2014). Students also report that effects of the "reforms" go beyond curriculum choice to include the use of space--physical space such as theater, space on the timetable/curriculum, and emotionally safe space for teachers and students to express themselves freely. These forms of space are forms of capital and are impacted by the dominant neoliberal culture of competitive performativity.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Australia
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A