The chapter reports on (and updates) a large-scale empirical mapping of autobiographical stories about Australian schooling (Southgate, 2003). The study sought to describe continuities and disjunctures in relations of power associated with schooling in Australia from the late 19th to the 21st century (for a similar enterprise on pedagogy see Gore, 1998). The analysis was based on stories of school from 289 people (storytellers) published in a range of sources including interviews, autobiographies, Internet sites, newspapers and school magazines. Stories covered schooling from 1870 to the present. Since the publication of the original study, I have continued to collect stories relating to the main relations of power or powerplays, described in stories of school life. Indeed, the Internet with its blogs and social networking sites has precipitated a publishing boom in school memories, and I draw on the tales of thirty extra storytellers to update the current analysis of experiences of punishment. This chapter merges theoretical interests in emotion, power and embodiment to map how authority and punishment arc enacted, and reacted to, in autobiographical stories of school that span generations. Mapping continuities in stories across generations is important because of what they say about school as an institution and the lifelong impacts of punishment on the souls of former students (Herman, Depaepe, Simon & Van Gorp, 2007). I begin this chapter by describing the theoretical tool of the powerplay. I then discuss the use of this tool to analyse how teacher authority operates to physically and emotionally isolate students. The significance of the teacher's voice and silence - its ability to yell, chastise, and confer sarcasm and insults - is explored in detail. The spatial distribution of student 'offender' in punishing powerplays is also taken up. The stories examined in this chapter illustrate that students are left with only a slight possibility (or no option) of resistance, disobedience or oppositional action (contrary to Foucault, 1984, p. 245). This is not to say resistance to punishment and teacher authority is never remembered (I have documented this elsewhere, see Southgate, 2003, pp. 58-80). It could even be true to say that by recounting these memories, the storytellers are engaged in an act of resistance years after the fact. The point of this chapter is to highlight how authority can create conditions where fear and shame blossom and that this immobilises students, with often lasting effects.
Re-theorizing Discipline in Education: Problems, Politics & Possibilities p. 91-103
Complicated Conversation: A Book Series of Curriculum Studies