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Word Count: 3,575
For at least two decades discipline has been at or near the top of the list of public concerns about our schools1 Nor should this surprise us developing the mix of foresight judgement and self-control that enables or perhaps just constitutes discipline is an important task of childhood As long as schools are places where part of a childs education takes place helping children develop discipline will be one of the problems that is legitimate tasks that schools face However when used in school-talk discipline often is translated into terms of control and power not development or education Discipline is often perhaps usually synonymous with classroom management This sense of discipline-as-control will not seem strange to anyone who has read Michel Foucault especially his Discipline and Punish2 On his view when we begin talking of the problem of discipline we are really asking about the power relationships3 that exist within schools Specifically we should be asking what form of power4 we face for power is multi-faceted Foucault analyzes two forms of power in detail sovereign and disciplinary So let us examine each in turn As Foucault describes in the first part of Discipline and Punish sovereign power is that form expressed in recognizable ways through particular and identifiable individuals The nodes of this form of power are the king the prince and the agents thereof These individuals are visible agents of power known by others and by themselves to be such Sovereign power is also typified by the intermittency with which it is exercised It assesses taxes enforces the law by exacting penalties for violations thereof raises armies in time of war and so on But each of these cases where sovereign power flexes is discrete it acts in response to a certain set of circumstances and through a specific and identifiable agent or set of agents When sovereign power operates we know that we have been acted upon in what ways and by whom
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