Power In Eduation & Foucault

I suppose that one might complain that I simply don't have the ear for the
poetry that speaks of "the music of their spheres," but I would like to take
up the question of the application of Foucault's analysis of power to the
school and education. Once we move beyond the metaphysical language of
"devoured souls," what exactly do we have here?

Yes, some of the techniques of power which Foucault analyzes in D&P are used
in the educational setting, and it is important to have a grasp on how they
work. A fascinating study could be done on how standardized educational
testing functions as a technique of normalizing power, for example. But the
conclusion that the school and the prison are homologous
structures/institutions of power, drawn as a corollary of the observation that
both utilize similar techniques of power, reminds me of a prescient criticism
Michael Walzer make of Foucault some years ago: his analysis is unable to
distinguish between authority and the authoritarian, and between the existence
of a total institution in a generally open society and totalitarianism. The
facile equation of the high school and the prison, especially when announced
from the ivy-covered halls of an institution which likes to delude itself that
it is outside of disciplinary power, seems to me to be the logical extreme of
this flaw in Foucault's analysis.

Leo Casey

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