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Re-Theorizing Discipline in Education

Problems, Politics, and Possibilities


Edited By Zsuzsanna Millei, Tom G. Griffiths and Robert John Parkes

For over a century, teachers, parents, and school leaders have lamented a loss of ‘discipline’ in classrooms. Caught between guidance approaches on the one hand and a call for zero tolerance on the other, current debates rarely venture beyond the terrain of implementation strategies. This book aims to reinvigorate thinking on ‘discipline’ in education by challenging the notions, foundations, and paradigms that underpin its use in policy and practice. It confronts the understanding of ‘discipline’ as purely repressive, and raises the possibility of enabling forms and conceptualizations of ‘discipline’ that challenge tokenistic avenues for students’ liberation and enhance students’ capacity for agency. This book is an essential resource for university lecturers, pre-service and in-service teachers, policymakers, and educational administrators who want to re-think ‘discipline’ in education in ways that move beyond a concern with managing disorder, to generate alternative understandings that can make a difference in students’ lives.


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Chapter VII: Punishing Powerplays: Emotion, Discipline and Memories of School Life - Erica Southgate 91


91Chapter VII Chapter VII Introduction Much of the choreography of authority is expressed through the body. (Connerton, 1989, p. 74) The chapter reports on (and updates) a large-scale empirical mapping of autobiographical stories about Australian schooling (Southgate, 2003). The study sought to describe continuities and disjunctures in relations of power associated with schooling in Australia from the late 19th to the 21st century (for a similar enterprise on pedagogy see Gore, 1998). The analysis was based on stories of school from 289 people (storytellers) published in a range of sources including interviews, autobiographies, Internet sites, newspapers and school magazines. Stories covered schooling from 1870 to the present. Since the publication of the original study, I have continued to collect stories relating to the main relations of power or powerplays, described in stories of school life. Indeed, the Internet with its blogs and social networking sites has precipitated a publishing boom in school memories, and I draw on the tales of thirty extra storytellers to update the current analysis of experiences of punishment. This chapter merges theoretical interests in emotion, power and embodiment to map how authority and punishment are enacted, and reacted to, in autobiographical stories of school that span generations. Mapping continuities in stories across generations is important because of what they say about school as an institution and the lifelong impacts of punishment on the souls of former students (Herman, Depaepe, Simon & Van Gorp, 2007). I begin this chapter by describing the theoretical tool of the powerplay. I...

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