We are currently studying Michel Foucault's book Discipline & Punish: The Birth of the Prison. For this meeting we will tackle part 3, Discipline. It should be a good antidote for spring fever.
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About Foucault’s work and the direction he started moving in with D&P as it relates to the good comments below:
Yes, MF was aiming at the idea that people mentally adopt the mechanisms of "discipline" and its principles, e.g. observation, without being conscious of it happening, or even if they are conscious of it, they’re “subject” to it.
He later labeled the concept he developed about this after D&P "governmentality."
Under governmentality, the” rules” are inscribed inside the mind, the Panopticon is inside the mind, and the features of what he came to call "disciplinary regimes"—smaller-scale (micro-politics) systems of power relations—generally operate inside the mind so that the individual governs herself. All in contrast to the prior macro-level, very public, punitive, etc. top-down approach.
After D&P, MF gave are a series of fairly clear, worthwhile lectures and interviews explaining this idea. You could google “governmentality,” and I can recommend pieces to learn more.
0 · April 19, 2013
Just clicked on this now and am seeing the comments. Thanks for the nice words, everyone. I thought it was great meeting. Great questions made me reach deep into the recesses of mind on some of this stuff and pushed me to think hard, which is what I need, want, and was looking for with this group. Btw, I had previously posted a comment on the Part III meeting notice about that book I mentioned and other feedback. See you for Part III.
Here's another essay on Finn Pasi Sahilberg's new book and interviews with him. Sahilberg could be called Finland's education ambassador to the world. An essay informed by this interview could be titled, Why U.S. Schools will never emulate Finland's.A good read (from The Atlantic.com site):http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2011/12/what-americans-keep-ignoring-about-finlands-school-success/250564/
0 · April 11, 2013
I believe Foucault groups schools together with prisons, hospitals and the military on the discipline/punishment criteria.
I'm mainly interested in this discussion for its help in understanding public education as an institution that arguably becomes more authoritarian as the cohorts of employees perceive themselves as less powerful in society—and the conditioning effects this has on students' achievement motivation, during and after they leave formal schooling.
The mind conditioned to respond to discipline, but not to initiate intelligently creative activity seems to serve the vision of those who would prefer to avoid diluting the bourgeoisie with the unwashed, failing to see that success in doing so could eventually bring down the progressive nation's economy.
So what's the alternative? Finland's egalitarian school system. But to dismantle the massive employment system we call public education would likewise severely harm the nation's middle class.
Others' views?Jim B.
0 · April 9, 2013
I am not familiar with Finland's school system. But I do have two suggestions for ours. First, give everyone vouchers so that they can attend whatever (approved) school that they wish to. This would bring the free market to education with all its advantages and, unfortunately, disadvantages. Hopefully, fewer of the latter. Second, I would like to get rid of the 'F.' Unlike the other grades, the F is punitive and is what gives educators the power over the students. Either you pass a class or you don't pass. Not passing is not the same as failing. Giving someone an F for that is punitive and coercive.
1 · April 10, 2013
It does seem there is very little thought given to the social and psychological ramifications of Foucault's institutions of interest, although notably, because so many ex-military are committing suicide, the mental ravages of war and how they affect our society are beginning to get deserved scrutiny. Likewise, the problem of bullying in schools that leads to suicides, that wouldn't be happening but for Facebook, Instagram, etc., are publicized. Perhaps the problem concerning the societal effects of these institutions is, like parallel lines that never intersect, they have evolved with an ideological agenda that ignores the volumes of research on the human condition, human performance, motivation, civility from the other scientific disciplines that have seen huge strides of advancement over the last half century. So it's not that we couldn't conduct institutional business in a more civil way that has the overriding goal of enhancing society. Why do we lack the will to do this? JB
Foucault says this was accomplished quite unconsciously. Or, at least, we never thought consciously about these ramifications. I wonder if these processes of ever increasing scrutiny are the real boogeyman for our economic and cultural problems. Has this approach to civilization met its limit?
0 · April 10, 2013
With John putting Foucault and his book in context, we had an interesting and enlightening discussion.
Here is a link to a study on how making something difficult to read can improve comprehension:
The study used difficult to read fonts but if you read the explanation by Daniel Oppenheimer, you can see that the same argument might apply to difficult sentence structure as well.
Fun! John's ample experiences with the study of Foucault helped.
I have a new respect for Foucault after being enlightened by John.
0 · April 8, 2013
feeling a bit under the weather--can't get enough sleep. hope everyone has an enjoyable time.
I look forward to learning something new.
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