RE: Power

>I was wondering if anyone could explain to me how power would be employed or
>deployed in an attempt to increase students knowledge (aka. Increasing
>academic achievement) and what would be the impact of such an action?
>Avi Kaufman

you're welcome.

Well, this year's high school debate topic is education, and there's a rather popular foucault position. people make a lot of foucault arguments, but here are some of them:

educating a student pre-supposes a stable and rational subject. as foucault points out in "power/knowledge," subjectivity is constructed through power relations. subjects are the "effects and vehicles of power." by pre-supposing a certain mode of subjectivity and sticking to it exclusively, humanist education excludes alternate and minority subject positions and modalities. by failing these modes of subjectivity and forcing students to fit the norm through the threat of failure, education normalizes our minds. contained within the idea of the achiever and the good student is the failure and the bad student. essentially, education turns us into calculable and subjected subjects. this is bad.

moreover, humanist pedagogy is panoptic and disciplinary. even when not directly normalizing and using norms to evaluate, the structure of classroom space situates the students in rows facing the gaze of the teacher, keeping them in line and alienating them from one another, streamlining the process of the students' normalization.

additionally, the knowledge related to "academic achievement" is not free from power relations. it forms part of a complex nexus of power relations that are themselves not innocent.

an alternative would be a decentered pedagogy commonly known as "critical pedagogy."

for more information, i'd recommend these books:

pedagogy of the oppressed, paulo freire
the end of education: toward posthumanism, william v. spanos
foucault's challenge: discourse, knowledge, and power in education, by popekwitz

The territory no longer precedes the map, nor does it survive it.
--Jean Baudrillard

Twice the Entertainment, half the talent.
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