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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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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Names: Waghid, Yusef, author. | Davids, Nuraan, author. Title: Education, assessment, and the desire for dissonance / Yusef Waghid and Nuraan Davids. Description: New York: Peter Lang, 2017. Series: Global studies in education; vol. 33 | ISSN 2153-330X Identifiers: LCCN 2017009294 | ISBN 978-1-4331-4043-3 (hardcover: alk. paper) ISBN 978-1-4331-4044-0 (paperback: alk. paper) |ISBN 978-1-4331-4045-7 (ebook pdf) ISBN 978-1-4331-4046-4 (epub) | ISBN 978-1-4331-4047-1 (mobi) Subjects: LCSH: Educational tests and measurements—South Africa. Educational tests and measurements—Social aspects—United States. Education and state—South Africa. Classification: LCC LB3058.S6 W35 2017 | DDC 371.260968—dc23 LC record available at DOI 10.3726/b10738 Bibliographic information published by Die Deutsche Nationalbibliothek. Die Deutsche Nationalbibliothek lists this publication in the “Deutsche Nationalbibliografie”; detailed bibliographic data are available on the Internet at

© 2017 Peter Lang Publishing, Inc., New York 29 Broadway, 18th floor, New York, NY 10006 All rights reserved. Reprint or reproduction, even partially, in all forms such as microfilm, xerography, microfiche, microcard, and offset strictly prohibited.

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