Controlling or guiding students - what's the difference? A critique of approaches to classroom discipline

Year: 2007

Author: Millei, Zsuzsa

Type of paper: Refereed paper

This paper fits into the small number of critiques of classroom discipline outside the field of educational psychology. This paper critiques classroom discipline approaches as discourse practices inscribed by shifting rationalities for governing individuals following Foucault's and Rose's ideas on contemporary government. This analytical context allows problematizing the taken-for-granted understandings about the 'unruly child' and his/her regulation. These can be re-thought as regimes of truth and practices produced for the government of children's conduct.

I group classroom discipline theories and practices into interventionist, interactive and non-interventionist approaches, and then argue that classroom discipline discourses constitute particular 'self-disciplined' subjects and that the notion of 'self-disciplined' shifts in different approaches. I align these shifts with changing rationalities for the government of individuals. I suggest that the release of regulation as it is assumed by interactive and non-interventionist theories do not liberate or empower students, but bring into play a 'deeper' self-regulation of individuals. I also argue that the conceptual foundation of these theories, such as 'collaboration' or 'community', has to be de- and re-constructed to reach the aims these approaches intend to promote.