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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 X: Citizenship? What Citizenship? Using Political Science Terminology in New Discipline Approaches - Rob Imre and Zsuzsa Millei 131


131Chapter X Chapter X Introduction The political concepts of ‘democracy’ and ‘citizenship’, in the broad field of education and more particularly in theories of classroom discipline and associated welfare policies, are widely utilized. While these powerful concepts are used as taken-for-granted ideas, there is no singularly agreed-upon answer to the question of what ‘citizenship’ and ‘democracy’ mean when used in schools and in relation to students, and what practical considerations they carry both for pedagogy and discipline. Moreover, depending on how the concepts of democracy and citizenship are used, they can be both (dis)empowering for their subjects and simultaneously regulate them in terms of directing their activities in some form or another, be it in positive or negative directions. These concepts pre/ proscribe behaviour, values and morals for schooled subjects including students, teachers and administrators, such that they simultaneously discipline their behaviour and create practices for their empowerment. This chapter focuses on ideas of ‘citizenship’ from the field of political theory in order to begin a discussion about how we might imagine students as citizens. It also examines the possibility of students’ citizenship from a particular perspective, that is, students’ ‘interests’. Political ‘interest’ is a particularly complex idea that was brought into thinking about the relation of the individual and society by 19th-century political theorists. From Adam Smith to contemporary neo-liberalism and the different variations of Marxism, ‘interest’ was made into a historical agent of ‘human nature’. Political ‘interest’ is not something that is inherently there for educators to...

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