SA Journal of Education, Volume 38, Supplement 2, December 2018

Exploring an urban teacher’s use of performance in fostering middle school students’ moral awareness

Xiaodong Zhang, Zuhong Hu


This study reports on how an urban teacher relied on herself and harnessed performance-based pedagogy in developing her students’ moral awareness over one academic year. Drawing on qualitative analyses of the teacher and students’ reflections, interviews, as well as students’ performance, the study shows that the teacher’s reliance on her own agency in designing a performance-based curriculum counteracted teaching constraints in her workplace. In addition, performance, enacted through engaging students in performing exaggerated bodily activities enabled them to critically reflect upon existing or potential moral issues in their lives and guided their follow-up behaviours. The study concludes the importance of synergising teachers’ self-agency with arts-based education in raising students’ moral awareness, especially in similarly constrained contexts.

ORCiD iDs of authors:
Xiaodong Zhang -
Zuhong Hu -

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