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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 IX: Disciplining Desire: Young Children, Schools and the Media - Affrica Taylor 120


120 Re-theorizing Discipline in Education Chapter IX Desire is spoken into existence, it is shaped through discursive and interactive processes, through the symbolic and the semiotic. Desires are constituted through the narratives and storylines, the metaphors, the very language and patterns of existence through which we are ‘interpellated’ into the social world…(Davies, 1990, p. 501). It is now some twenty years since Bronwyn Davies contemplated ‘the problem of desire’ as part of the paradoxical process of sex/gender subjectification. Taking the sex/gender ordering of desire as axiomatic, she argued that our desires and hence our subjectivities are neither rational nor essential, but are constructed (by ourselves and others) from a multitude of contradictory discursive positions and practices (Davies, 1990). Picking up and extending Davies’ musings on ‘the problem of desire’ in the ordering of sex/gender as a troubling concept for educators, I offer a commentary on the disciplining of children’s desires by focusing upon two key discursive sites across which young children are very differently interpellated: early childhood education and children’s popular culture. Despite the radically disparate ways that schools and the media constitute children’s desires, I argue that both these discursive sites have disciplinary effects upon their sex/gender and their sexual subjectivities. Across these sites, I tease out some of the paradoxical ways in which young children are codeterminously disciplined to become desiring, denying, regulated and self-regulating gendered and sexual subjects. I also explore how schools and popular culture moderate young children’s multiple sexual subjectivities through regulating their...

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