Sunday 19 March 2017

Foucault: Discipline & Punishment Reflection

Do you see any parallels between Foucault’s description of ‘examination’ and current workplaces in which you are located? In particular, look at the key phrases he uses in the opening paragraph including ‘observing hierarchy … normalizing gaze … qualify … classify … punish .. a visibility through which one differentiates and judges’

In education, there are definitely norms and expectations. There are year level expectations and it is the norm that students should be able to achieve these benchmarks by the end of the year. In terms of ‘normalizing gaze’, we do have a set of internal and external assessments we use to help us understand our students' needs. In my international private school in Singapore, these results for the most part, are only used by the teachers to inform learning and look at the data across the grade and the school. This helps for planning and purchasing of resources as well as the professional development needed to support students. At no point is this knowledge shared with parents or our wider community. Students who are falling below expectations are identified and strategies to better support them are implemented.
There are norms for teachers as well. It is expected that teachers attend meetings, do their planning, grade assessments, meet with parents etc. Should teachers demonstrate they are not able to do these things, teachers may meet with the principal of the school to discuss next steps for support, provide warnings or even termination as a ‘punishment’.
In my setting, there are no capabilities for leadership. However, many countries such as Australia do have these and may be seen as a way to evaluate and classify ‘good’ leaders, similar to the trait theory.


Foucault, M. (1991). Discipline and punish: The birth of the prison. London: Penguin.

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