Suffering from certainty

John Freeman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


This article proposes an approach to the study of ‘performance’ in higher education that seeks to empower students through the activity of practice, rather than through a reliance on the passivity of post-practice analysis. In arguing this position, the article locates objectivity as an academic myth and subjectivity as a positive force. To this end, this article suggests that within the context of students' submissions the immediacy of the personal pronoun ‘I’ should be regarded as indicative of good practice, rather than as the negative breaking of an entirely positive academic tradition. In recognising that contemporary art knows no boundaries the author stresses the role of the university tutor as guide instead of guru. In this way, it is argued, the emphasis shifts from the controlling aspects of curricular impositions towards the creation of spaces for dynamic and subject-specific learning. Assumptions of standardized expectations and correctness are challenged, and these are set in opposition to the ideas of interrogative educational practice, which form the core of this article. Notwithstanding its focus on the areas of ‘theatre’ and ‘performance’, this article has a wide application to the field of developmental post-compulsory education. For it is only through freeing students from the certainties of our teaching that we are able to shift knowledge away from the accumulation of our own preconceptions. Whereas performance functions as a peg on which the article hangs, the article itself is concerned with locating the student-experience at the heart of all study.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-52
Number of pages14
JournalResearch in Post-Compulsory Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2003
Externally publishedYes


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