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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 XI: Classroom Discipline: A Local Kantian? - Tom G. Griffiths and Rob Imre 146


146 Re-theorizing Discipline in Education Chapter XI How did classroom discipline become a global ‘problem’? Educators are often struck by the use of ideas that are claimed to be derived from their particular contexts and yet have so many similarities to other contexts as to make the question of locally driven education initiatives, independent of wider influences, seem almost farcical. In our collective experience as educators we see the same sorts of cultural frameworks, if not always the same cultural references, as well as the same kinds of policy initiatives in terms of education. Rap and hip-hop stars are everywhere, wearing the same clothes and saying the same things in South Korea, Hungary, Venezuela, as they are in the United States. While the global reach of an individual pop star may not penetrate all localities, the genre seems to be able to do this. The same could be said of various types of television programs in terms of game-show trends, reality television, and so on. The actors change, but the structure remains, often part of a global franchise, and everyone watches the same kind of program the world over. Can the same be said for education policies that appear to be concerned with ‘global competitiveness’, ‘management of school climate’, ‘whole school discipline approach’, ‘zero tolerance policies’, ‘raising test scores’, creating ‘global citizens’, ensuring ‘quality’ and so on? Statements like these appear to be just as universal as the cultural genre references. More worrying is the fact that they also...

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