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Education, Assessment, and the Desire for Dissonance


Yusef Waghid and Nuraan Davids

Education, Assessment, and the Desire for Dissonance aims to address the contentious practice of assessment in schools and universities within a poststructuralist educational paradigm. Within the theoretical paradigm of Foucault’s (1994) notions of governmentality, subjectification and dissonance, the book examines why, through which and in which ways (how) educational assessment should unfold considering the challenges of globalized and cosmopolitan dimensions of educational change that have beset educational institutions. Waghid and Davids show how conceptual derivatives of Foucauldian governmentality, in particular the notions of power, panopticon and surveillance, dispositive, freedom and resistance—as relational concepts—affect assessment in universities and schools. The authors argue why universities and schools cannot be complacent or non-responsive to current understandings and practices of assessment. In the main, the authors contend that a Foucauldian notion of powerful, subjectified and dissonant assessment can, firstly, be extended to an Agambenian (2011) notion of a profane, denudified and rhythmic form of assessment; and secondly, be enhanced by a Derridian (1997) idea of friendship that bridges a Foucauldian view of governmental assessment with an Agambenian view of ethical assessment. Friendship allows people to act responsibly towards one another—that is, teachers and students acting responsibility towards one another—and resonates with an ongoing pursuit of rhythmic assessment practices. Such a form of assessment opens up an attentiveness to the incalculable and unexpected encounters that bear the responsibility of acting with one another. The authors conclude that an assessment with teaching and learning can transcend the limitations of an assessment of learning and an assessment for learning.

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Chapter 6. Foucault and Discourse Analysis


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Currently, there is a plethora of literature on discourse analysis. However, in this chapter, following the Foucauldian notion of discourse analysis, we shall examine the power constitutive of social relationships. We will look at the assessment practices within a particular postgraduate program in our faculty—namely the B.Ed. (Hons.) with reference to at least two modules. We will explore this program in relation to showing how power presents particular challenges in the implementation of the multimodal education program. Students are not only subjected to a range of assessment practices as offered through the different modules, but are also subjected to the same assessment practices, even though there are serious discrepancies between the form, type, and time of contact hours. Our focus is to use a Foucauldian notion of discourse analysis to make certain claims about the program on offer. In sum, we will argue that assessment in our current programs is incommensurable with a Foucauldian understanding of discourse.

On the orderliness of discourse

In his chapter, “The order of discourse,” Foucault (1981, p. 52) asserts that in every society, the production of discourse is “at once controlled, selected, ← 85 | 86 → organized, and redistributed by a certain number of procedures whose role is to ward off its powers and dangers, to gain mastery over its chance events, to evade its ponderous, formidable materiality.” He continues that in a society like ours,...

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