Archive for January 4th, 2013

Stickney, J.A., Judging Teachers: Foucault, governance and agency during education reforms, Educational Philosophy and Theory, Volume 44, Issue 6, August 2012, Pages 649-662


Over a decade after publication of Thinking Again: Education After Postmodernism (1998) contention still emerges among Foucaultians over whether discursively made-up things really exist, and whether removal of the constituent subject leaves room for agency within techniques of caring for the self. That these questions are kept alive shows that some readers have not rethought Foucault, finding what possibly comes after postmodernism. Using Wittgenstein to ‘reciprocally illuminate’ Foucault (after Tully and Marshall), I open teacher inspection and reforms to problematization, as relations to bedrock rules governing games of truth. ‘How, upon entering classrooms, do inspectors know “teaching” is taking place and not crazy and fuzzy things in its name?’ Taking up Hirst’s vexing question, I move beyond liberal-analytic concept-mapping and neo-liberal individualism to more fully assay the political ground for judging teaching practices through genealogy. Epistemological, political and ethical concerns intersect as we approach the problem through Foucault’s three axes of an historical-ontology of the present: knowledge(s), power relations, and arts of the self. Drawing on recent Governmentality Studies in Education (Peters ., 2009), we aver the impasses of postmodern relativism while finding limited ranges of agency along each axis, as teachers practice freedoms by critiquing and renegotiating rules.

Author keywords
Agency; Education reform; Epistemology; Foucault; Governmentality; Teacher assessment


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