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Koers

On-line version ISSN 2304-8557
Print version ISSN 0023-270X

Koers (Online) vol.76 n.2 Pretoria  2011

 

Reconsidering the role of power, punishment and discipline in South African schools

 

'n Herbesinning van die rol van mag, straf en dissipline in Suid-Afrikaanse skole

 

 

E. Venter; L.J. van Niekerk

Department of Teacher Education, UNISA, Pretoria. E-mail: ventee1@unisa.ac.za; vnieklj@unisa.ac.za

 

 


ABSTRACT

This article examines the role of discipline and punishment in South African schools and seeks to interrogate the underlying power relations that guide teaching and learning in South Africa. It deconstructs the pre-occupation with discipline, power and punishment in South African schools in terms of the theoretical framework provided by Michel Foucault in his work entitled "Surveiller et punir: naissance de la prison" (1975) which was translated as "Discipline and punish: the birth of the prison" (1977). It was Foucault who reminded us that the modern school is based on Prussian military ideals of punctuality, discipline, neatness and submissiveness to authority. Foucault tends to see schooling as one side of "corriger", which is to punish or to teach. Education as "correction" is therefore regarded as the antipode of authoritarian punishment. Foucault draws attention to the subtle tactics and constraints beneath the surface of proclaimed bourgeois freedom. It was found that in South African schools the problem of authoritarian punishment is still rife. From the readings of Foucault's works suggestions are made for changes to the system and to teachers' mental attitude in order to move to a more constructive way of maintaining power and discipline.

Key concepts: discipline, freedom, power relations, punishment


OPSOMMING

Hierdie artikel ondersoek die rol van dissipline en straf in Suid-Afrikaanse skole en ondersoek die onderliggende gesags-verhoudings wat opvoeding en leer in Suid-Afrika onderlê. Die artikel probeer om die Suid-Afrikaanse skole se preokkupasie met dissipline, gesag en straf te dekonstrueer in terme van die teoretiese raamwerk van Michel Foucault soos dit verskyn in sy werk, "Surveiller et punir: naissance de la prison" (1975), in Engels vertaal as "Discipline and punish: the birth of the prison" (1977). Dit is Foucault wat ons herinner dat die moderne skool gebaseer is op die Pruisiese militêre ideaal van stiptelikheid, dissipline, netheid, en onderdanigheid aan outoriteit. Foucault sien skoling aan die een kant as "corriger", met ander woorde om te straf of op te voed. Onderwys as "regstelling" word dus gesien as die teenvoeter van outoritêre straf. Foucault vestig die aandag op die subtiele taktiek en beperkings wat onder die oppervlak van sogenaamde bourgeois-vryheid teenwoordig is. Daar word gevind dat outoritêre straf steeds n algemene probleem in Suid-Afrikaanse skole is. Vanuit Foucault se werke word voorstelle gemaak vir veranderings in die sisteem en in onderwysers se denkwyse om na 'n meer konstruktiewe wyse van gesag- en dissiplinehandhawing te beweeg.

Kernbegrippe: dissipline, magsverhoudings, straf, vryheid


 

 

Full text available only in PDF format.

 

 

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