Performing Without a Script: A Dramaturgical Analysis of the First Cohort of Senior High School Teachers in the History of Philippine Education

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In 2013, the Philippines shifted from a ten to a thirteen year basic education curriculum. Expanding the number of years of schooling necessitated the addition of new grade levels, including Grades 11 and 12, collectively referred to as ‘Senior High School’. The teachers who first taught in these levels were in a situation in which they had to carry out their work without a prescribed modus operandi. There was no precedent for how one dealt with students, administrators, or parents. Nevertheless, these teachers had to carry on with their work. Using data gathered from 19 FGD participants, this paper examined the experiences of the pioneer batch of instructors to handle Grade 11 and 12 students. Goffman’s (1956) dramaturgical approach was a useful heuristic for understanding the data. It is underpinned by the assumption that social interactions resemble stage performances, with individuals performing roles for audiences. The pioneering batch of teachers could, thus, be understood as actors having to play the role of competent educator to audiences of students and parents without a fully-written script, in the form of existing modus operandi. The difficulties of their role are compounded by bureaucratic uncertainty among administrators, their backstage support staff.