Care, performance and performativity: Portraits of teachers' lived experiences
Department of Educational Psychology, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa
Data from an investigation into the care practices of teachers in a primary school in a vulnerable community fore-grounded, firstly, the influence of a performance culture on the lived experiences of teachers; and secondly, the role of language in the meaning-making of teachers regarding care. The data was generated by means of group discussions, individual and focus group interviews and open-ended questions as part of a more comprehensive research project that explored teachers' care practices in two primary schools. The research project employed an ethnographic methodology and more specifically, an ethnographic casebook design. We purposefully selected three teachers from the one school to construct portraits of their care practices. In an effort to make sense of the data we consulted the writings of Judith Butler on the constitutive nature of language. We viewed the teachers' accounts of their lived experiences through the lenses of care theory, performance and performativity. The portraits of the three teachers demonstrated how different interpretations of circumstances, culture and language can lead to different courses of action, albeit in one environment, and clearly indicate how the pressure of performing might obscure other important aspects of teachers' work such as caring for their learners. © 2012 Copyright Centre for Education Practice Research (CEPR).