chapter  4
19 Pages

Discipline and punishment in education

In this chapter I explore possible connections between discipline and punishment in education. I use the thought of Kant, Durkheim and Foucault to help me do so. In particular, I argue that Foucault’s Discipline and Punish can be regarded as a critique of the modes of discipline and punishment advanced by Kant and especially Durkheim. Durkheim and Foucault both investigated how punishment in modern schools became less violent and more diffuse, continuous and graduated in scale. In spite of their differences Kant, Durkheim and Foucault did agree on at least one thing. That discipline and punishment is imposed on students in schools. Discipline and punishment constrains individuals – they mould individuals into what schools and later society, needs them to be. Discipline defi nes individuals. I pull the chapter together by considering what Kant, Durkheim and Foucault call tell us about discipline and punishment in education today. Kant and Durkheim thought socialising students into the norms of society at school via discipline and punishment could lead to the growth of individual autonomy and social cohesion. In contrast, Foucault’s critique helps to reveal how disciplinary mechanisms in educational institutions all too often merely normalise students and ready them to be docile productive workers. Foucault suggested that disciplinary mechanisms systematically stifl e resistance against the norms and (industry focussed) values of society. I conclude by observing that Foucault’s critique, despite its strengths, does not provide answers to the question of how discipline in educational institutions might be arranged to foster ends beyond mere socialisation and normalisation.