Re: foucault-digest V2 #199

Dear F list
(I get my Foucault list in digest form, so forgive me not being able to add=
ress the =

original questioner)
Re F and Education.
I am doing my dissertation on just how, genealogically, education/educators=
construct =

subjects. I am drawing mainly on the vivid images in D and P, and examing h=
ow space, =

time and activity are articulated on to the learners' bodies. I am directin=
g my inquiry =

toward the construction of categories of gender, sexuality and class in the=
main. I did =

a preliminary lit search a few months ago and found that:
1. Despite the overwhelming significance that Foucaut's work should have fo=
r educators, =

most resist engagement with his work. (eg, in the decade following his deat=
h, about 40 =

books were published across the social sciences and humanities that dealt i=
n a =

substantive way with F thought/theory/etc, but in education, only one... Ba=
ll's =

book--which is very limited in its North American scope. Deals well with UK=
, Europe and =

Antipodean, though)

2.Many commentators find his work/theory and I assume poststructuralist wri=
ting in =

general, uncomfortable in that it challenges the white, liberal, humanist v=
iew of =

educaiton. Oh yes, many of us, me included, still think we can "make a diff=
erence", and =

cherish little fantasies about 'progress'.If you are able, do an ERIC searc=
h and check =

out some of the comments, like this one (sorry, it's a long quote but good.=

Lynne V. Cheney, in 1995: =

U.S. society has come to be a world where offenses are constantly being red=
efined and =

thinkers deny that there is any absolute truth. How this has happened, its =
effects, and =

what can be done about it are explored. The effects of postmodern relativis=
m are nowhere =

more evident than in education. Many are working to be sure that American s=
chools show =

no favor to, in fact, downgrade, ideas and practices associated with the Un=
ited States =

and its Western heritage. The National History Standards developed in 1994 =
provide the =

most egregious example to date of encouraging students to take a benign vie=
w of other =

cultures while being hypercritical of the one in which they live. Many comm=
endable =

efforts to support minorities and women have been subverted into criticism =
of the =

culture that has dominated. While education is an area where this is immedi=
ately =

apparent, the same tendencies can be seen in debates over political correct=
ness; ideas =

growing out of the thinking of Michel Foucault; the consideration of many f=
eminist =

issues; and trends in the arts, popular psychology (including the recovered=
memories of =

presumed child abuse victims), and the press and its view of politics. Some=
notable =

exceptions to these trends are highlighted as the basis for eventual change=
and a =

reinstatement of regard for objective truth.

3. Most educational theorising begins and ends with D and P. Thus panoptico=
ns abound, =

and surveillance and comparisons between jails and schools, but rarely at a=
deep level =

of analysis. Governmentality is starting to become popular in the policy ar=
eas and in =

higher ed. But not much else is happening. =

4. A new book out of NZ, by Sue Middleton, is promising, but not very subst=
antial. It's =

called 'Discplining sexuality: Foucault, Life Histories and Education. (199=
8, Teachers =

College Press). =

5. Does anyone know of any other work being done in education along similar=
lines? I am =

also very interested F's suggestions re 'space' in education, especially re=
garding =

transparency, and partitioning, enclosing etc. I would appreciate any refs =
that might =

come up. =

6. Last comments: Some British writers are making good use of PS and F for =
analyis of =

(adult) education, Usher, Bryant and Edwards etc, and the confessional/turn=
to =

textuality. =

This is all a bit scattered, dashing off my email late in the evening, but =
it is =

fascinating to me that those involved in 'educating'--and I think especiall=
y those in =

higher education, or in university adult education, like myself--are so rel=
uctant to =

engage with F's ideas. Both the old left, and the new right seem to be in a=
snit about =

any kind of F critiques. ...

Because, as Lynne Chisholm, reviewing the one and only book on Foucault an=
d education =

(Ball, 1990) says: =93Foucauldian analysis is a perspective which explicitl=
y fails to move =

beyond critique, is pessimistic and discouraging, even denigrating...I do n=
ot want =

Foucauldian analysis to paralyze education as it has threatened to do in so=
me quarters =

of critical sociology=94. ???

Who knows? =

Regards to the list, which I enjoy immensely!!! =


Valerie-Lee Chapman, PhD Candidate
Dept. of Educational Studies
University of British Columbia
2125, Main Mall
Vancouver, BC V6J 1W3
Fax: 604/822-8971; <valeriel@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>.

I have come to think that teaching and learning are not a preparation for a=
nything but =

are the thing itself... The classroom is a microcosm of the world; it is th=
e chance we =

have to practice whatever ideals we may cherish.

Jane Tomkins, 1990.

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