The terror of performativity and managerialism in Higher Education: finding a respectful way to be

Dr Joan Williams, School of Education

This performance evolved out of reflective journal writing about how I have been experiencing working in a higher education institution. It was created and performed at the University of Brighton, Centre for Learning and Teaching pedagogic research conference, in February, 2015.

A preamble:

This session is based on research that explores the experiences of an academic in neo-liberal times striving to remain true to a discourse that champions creativity, educational uncertainty and the facilitation of learning. The session is likely to be of particular appeal to those who work with International post-graduate students, have an interest in auto-ethnography or who experience conflicting values in HE education.

My narrative is set within a UK higher education institution in the last two academic years (2012-14) and examines experiences with international students registered on UK MA Education programmes. The struggle to remain true to my preferred discourse is particularly pronounced when attempting to facilitate international students’ shift from a ‘didactic / reproductive’ to a ‘facilitative/transformative’ belief set (Kember, 2001, p.215).

 To explore this experience, I drew on the methodology of autoethnography and tenets of memoir to examine and demonstrate layers of my thinking, and connect the ‘personal to the cultural and social’ (Ellis, 2004, p.xix). The rigorous layers of reflexivity achieved through my engagement with poetry, letter writing and reflective journal entries provide opportunities for me to listen to the words I write (Giorgio, 2009). I aim to provide a rich vicarious experience and evoke ‘an empathic and emotional response’ (Short and Grant, 2009, p.196) from my audience, based on the way they interpret and experience my story in relation to their own lived experiences. They will choose what to embrace and what to discard.

 I followed the hand that wrote to a place ‘where meanings, politics, and identities are negotiated’ (Denzin, 2000, p.259) to acknowledge that my relationship with the system and identity within the Academy must remain fluid and flexible to find a mutually respectful way forward.

Click on the link below to access the performance script:

The terror of performativity and managerialism in Higher Education: finding a respectful way to be

Clink on the title below to see the slide show and hear the song in the background.