Academic journal article Theatre Research in Canada

On Being or Becoming a Secondary School Drama/theatre Teacher in a Linguistic Minority Context

Academic journal article Theatre Research in Canada

On Being or Becoming a Secondary School Drama/theatre Teacher in a Linguistic Minority Context

Article excerpt


The purpose of this study is to reflect upon what it means to be or to become a secondary school drama/theatre teacher in a linguistic minority context such as the one in francophone Ontario. Ontario is Canada's most populous province, with a population of 12.5 million in an area covering 1,076,395 square kilometres (almost twice that of France). Its 550,000 francophone inhabitants represent the country's largest linguistic minority. This minority francophone context is of particular interest for studies of motivation in the teaching of drama/theatre. Firstly, theatre gives voice to the cultural expression of the francophone community. Secondly, even if the Canadian constitution recognizes French and English as official languages, there is no guarantee of francophone cultural vitality in each province, due to the predominance of Anglophones in North America and the widely dispersed Francophone population. In a minority context, Francophones want to feel at home by expressing their culture. The political debate with respect to the cultural differences of these two linguistic groups is far fromover. A related issue is the effect of globalization on linguistic practices and the eventual disappearance of certain languages, such as French, in the twenty-first century (Calvet 77).

In order to fully understand the Franco-Ontarian context, one must remember that the school environment has always been the core element in the existence and survival of the French-speaking population of Ontario. As indicated by Cazabon (55) and Bernard (520-22), schools represent the very foundation of French culture in the community, allowing an increased cultural awareness among youth and the development of a sense of cultural belonging (Theberge, Construction 8). In the absence of this strong attachment, the identity of an individual can be unclear (Mucchielli 62). The school environment, therefore, has an essential socio-cultural role among the minority francophone population in Canada, not only in terms of the quality education it offers, but also as an institutional authority that encourages linguistic recognition and prestige (Association 28; Ministere 6; Theatre Action 13-19).

As French-language schools were only allowed in Ontario starting in 1969, the issue of examining what motivates or does not motivate people to be or to become teachers of drama/theatre in a French minority context is essential. Those who were part of the initial artistic expansion in the Franco-Ontarian community are rapidly approaching retirement age. Failure to document how these teachers live their role in a minority context can signify the loss of an entire knowledge base of experience that might be beneficial to generations of new teachers arriving on the scene. Furthermore, many young Canadians between fourteen and seventeen years of age find it more "cool" to be anglophone than francophone. The attraction of the country's majority culture is undeniable (Haentjens and Chagnon-Lampron 6-7; Theatre Action 23).

Based on my experience of more than thirty years in this community, first as an artist and then as professor in a teacher education program, I will address the issue of motivation to be or to become a secondary school drama/theatre teacher. I will first specify the conceptual framework on which the research is based. Then I will present and discuss the results obtained during the data collection.

Conceptual Framework

This study is inspired by Mucchielli's concept of identity, which he suggests is based on a sense of one's material being, of unity, and of coherence; a sense of temporal continuity, of relatedness, of difference; a sense of worth, of autonomy, of confidence; and a sense of existence (14). The senses of confidence and existence represent the core of the entire group.


Within this conception of identity, the sense of confidence constitutes the essential foundation on which is based "the central effort of the sense of existence" that allows a person to give meaning to his actions. …

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