The discourse of control – Foucault in ECE 2

In the afore-mentioned article, Millei found that in the classroom discourse, “all participants used words that originate in the discourse of behavioural science. Young persons’ actions, the expression of their emotions and their talk were placed under one summarising term: behaviour. Other words and phrases, such as ‘change the behaviour’, ‘mechanism’, ‘consistent’, ‘consequence’ and ‘reinforcement’, are drawn from the discourse of behaviour management. The literature about behaviour management was influenced by educational psychology, especially by Skinner’s (1972) behaviour science, the theory of marking out ‘behaviour boundaries’ by Glasser (1969) and the process of ‘active listening’ by Rogers (1969). Behaviour management draws strongly on the scientific discourse of psychology.” (132)

“Foucault shifted the emphasis in ‘discipline’ away from control of behaviour to focus on rationalities or ways that we make meaning of things in our everyday lives. ‘Disciplines’ and their techniques exert their effects by making us objects to know, control and regulate (Foucault, 1977). Educational theories and practices draw heavily on psychological theories and findings. Psychology, as a ‘discipline’, has made persons objects of examination and created understandings through the vocabularies and discourses it supplies.” (132)

“‘Psychology is an “intellectual technology”, a way of making visible and intelligible certain features of persons, their conducts, and their relations with one another’ (Rose, 1996, p. 3). Moreover, the ‘discipline’ of psychology provides us with knowledge about us and we subject ourselves – by controlling and regulating ourselves – to this knowledge. Thus, Foucault supports the Baconian idea that knowledge is power in the way it empowers and serves as an instrument of power, and that the effects of knowledge are modes of control (Wess, 1996). Consequently, teachers acquire and utilise psychological knowledges about children, teaching and learning and by exercising these knowledges they exert power over children (Rose, 1990). For example, by identifying an individual who is ‘behind’ in literacy skills according to a psychological standard, the teacher is able to determine this person’s further career in school. At the same time teachers are also controlled by this knowledge, because they have to act according to it – for example, the knowledge of developmentally appropriate practice (Bredekamp & Copple, 1997) – as they are judged and evaluated on the grounds of forming their practices in line with it. Teachers are treated as professionals if they use the most up-to-date techniques and pedagogies of teaching and learning: hence the controlling effect of knowledge (Cannella, 1997).” (132)

Ref: Zsuzsanna J. Millei (2005) ‘The Discourse of Control: disruption and Foucault in an early childhood classroom’ Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, Volume 6, Number 2, pp.128-139


About backyardbooks

This blog is a kind of electronic storage locker for ideas and quotes that inform my research... literary research into fiction for young adults (with a special focus on New Zealand fiction). Kiwis are producing amazing literature for younger readers, but it isn't getting the academic appreciation it deserves. I hope readers of this blog can make use of the material I gather and share by way of promoting our fiction. Cheers!
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2 Responses to The discourse of control – Foucault in ECE 2

  1. Pingback: The discourse of control – Foucault in ECE 3 | LiteracyNZ

  2. Pingback: The discourse of control – Foucault in ECE 2 | LiteracyNZ | Dialogue and Learning |

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