Education: how Foucault helps us re-drawing it?

by Lucy Coyle April 21, 2016
Sample assignment 255*368

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Question

Examine how knowledge is currently governed in your curriculum or other discipline area. Whose interests are being served? What strategies are being employed to disseminate and uphold a particular ‘regime of truth’? What mechanisms are used to distinguish ‘true’ knowledge from ‘false’ knowledge in your chosen area?

Solution

 

Introduction

Discourse on Education goes on as an unending stream. Whether Education is to prepare or to take along a student in the path of investigation, creation and innovation or it is channel one’s brains to be a part of a system or to make someone smart and capable enough to discover and break traditions. The thrust of the discourse actually hovered around the question WHY, that means why should there be education rather than what education is to be prepared. Philosophers and thinkers from those of the ancient Greek ones down to Foucault, Derrida and Paulo Freire or Noam Chomsky, have all engaged in the philosophical discourse while trying to get a handle on the topic.
Is Education is a Pedagogy? Or Pedagogy is a part of Education. That is a strong philosophical question. We can only find the answer not from a moral perspective, but from a philosophy perspective.
This discourse brings us to the realm of Education as something which is not the same as Pedagogy. With others who have not followed the mainstream accepted and stressed on Education that is gained from life, outside the institutions in Saudi Arabia and informally, making a distinction between education in general and pedagogy through the universities. This also brings us to the debate on education versus instructions and the modern definition of pedagogy has made to denote the instructional part of it in my home country Saudi Arabia. While social thinkers like Paulo Freire has gone specialized in crafting out instructions that suits to trigger investigation and science and criticism among the oppressed, others have gone deeper into the reasons, rationale, attitude and motive of instruction. This is going philosophical. We now have to deal with the question of education, training, pedagogy, preparing tertiary students for a cause or a skill, as a sub-question of philosophy in Saudi Arabia.
Therefore, education is a special process where the Self and the Society interacts co-determines each other. Education is therefore a social question and every social question is dealt with the help of a specific philosophical view-point.

Proposition

Education is a process where a Self is made to be a part of the Society through a long drawn mechanism of compliance. The very concept espouses Power (pouvoir as opposed to the sense of Puissance). Imparting Knowledge is a process driven by Power. What elements of knowledge is imparted, what is to be left out, how they are imparted and where the students are to be constrained are all expressions of Power and are guided by the Power. Knowledge that we gather is a function of Power (Foucault M. , 1982).
As Foucault stated, “It seems to me that the real political task in a society such as ours is to criticize the work of institutions such as universities that appear to be both neutral and independent; to criticize and attack them in such a manner. Especially that in Saudi Arabia the political violence has always exercised itself obscurely through them, and it will be unmasked so that one can fight against them (Chomsky N. F., 2006, p. 171)”. Here Foucault shows how political is Education and where the power lies within the institutional structure.

Teaching and Learning
But where is the ante-thesis? Is it in the informal education, or is it the education from day to day life practice a subversion of this institutional power and packaged knowledge pushed in the students’ mind, or do we need to make some clear separating lines? Our proposition starts from that precise point.
How informal is the so-called informal education that we gather? Every bit of knowledge that we gather is socially dependent. A social environment is created by the numerous mass organisations of various natures in Saudi Arabia. What they impart among their members through association and practice is the value that these societies get from their actions which is again formed and manufactured through the institutions and mass media and the dominant discourse of the society – the so-called mainstream. Actually, these associations imbibe the Zeitgeist of the ideological super structure and the cultural super structure of the society. Without any strong ideological, cultural, political and philosophical resist this plethora of mass organisations inculcates within their membership the same value-system of the institutional structure of the society. Thus, without any paradigm shift in terms of thoughts an informal educational system serves the conformal process and the confirmation of the Knowledge/Power, hegemony of the main-stream of the society, which is sponsored by the STATE power. Thus, here we are, still, returning to Foucault. His opposition to institutions do not take us anywhere else (Smullyan, 1992).
Informal education, unless otherwise impregnated with the bacteria of paradigm shift, is an informal process of formalisation of the structure of the society. In this aspect Foucault falls short of becoming a Foucauldian, however paradoxical it might seem. Under the hegemony of society and the dominant value system, informalization is no separate or opposing process- it is just another process (Bevel, 2008).
The society gets stronger and they the life-activities become settled to a social equilibrium- the society “learns” to live with little disturbances and perturbations and gain maturity. The maturisation of a society is undergone through the survival of many perturbations – that is another process of formal compliance. University students in their youth in Saudi Arabia tend to go a little astray through drugs, sex, hippism and all kinds of non-conformity only to settle down as very compliant members in their professional life with an attitude of “déjà vu”. Foucault saw the process of drug use and other forms of non-conformity as expressions of rebellion against the dominant discourse or the value system of the society, such as recently in Arabic countries.

Manufacturing of Dissent

Our concrete proposal, or the point of departure from Foucault, Derrida et al, is in this fact that dissension is a part of the maturization of the society; of strengthening the formalization of the society.
Only a highly programmatic initiative, which has a totally different consistent and objective-oriented philosophy, political program, social architecture and cultural proposal can make a paradigm shift in Saudi Arabia. That means it is ultimately the battle of Formalism against Formalism. Only a contending Knowledge/Power structure can make a paradigm shift in the concept of education at a university level . The long journey of history is moving from one Knowledge/Power set to the other incessantly and this journey of shifting paradigms is the only stable fact of the history of human civilization. Foucault returns to kill Foucault in every cycle!

 

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