Philosophy of Classroom Discipline

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Philosophy of Classroom Discipline “Power is exercised only over free subjects, and only insofar as they are free. By this we mean individual or collective subjects who are faced with a field of possibilities in which several ways of behaving, several reactions and diverse compartments may be realized.” (Foucault) Foucault and Heidegger, modern philosophers, both describe power in these terms, as the facility to manipulate an object without force. Understanding this point of view is important, not only for state institutions who attempt to exert power over citizens and deviants, but also for teachers as they try to use disciplinary power to control the events in their classroom. Unfortunately, the majority of status quo disciplinary systems are entrenched in the mindset that power can be exerted over individuals through the use of coercive punishments and threats, actions which usually have the complete opposite result, less control over the students. A system that more closely mirrors Thomas Gordon’s view of discipline as self-control would be a far superior disciplinary model because it recognizes the true nature of power. Thomas Gordon’s disciplinary model specifically critiques the use of coercion and intimidation to exert power and control over students. Coercion to Gordon only reinforces a notion that violence is an acceptable form of control. Additionally, coerced and intimidated students will often retaliate against authority figures who attempt to exert coerciv...

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