I am not yet a classroom management historian, perhaps I’ll become one, but I am quite certain that there are certain insidious motives behind it. While many classroom management techniques are necessary, I submit that their genesis has roots in behaviorist techniques based in social control. This certainly should be an almost redundant statement as some might understand public schooling was born out of the intention of managing and separating certain populations. I hope to spend some of the summer organizing these suspicions into some proper research. And, I hope my research proves my speculations wrong beyond doubt. I hope to uncover the benevolence of our current system of education and behavioral management and be made an utter fool. But, until then, I’ll remain a fool in waiting with my somewhat conspiratorial and alarmist beliefs. I most certainly believe, because I’ve seen in numerous arenas, that children in poverty and, more saliently, children of color are treated more harshly. This may not be consistent across the entire nation, but it is in my experience and the extended experiences of colleagues. But that is not the point I am trying to make. Classroom management is successful only when the following is true in some form:
“The ideas of crime and punishment must be strongly linked and ‘follow one another without interruption… When you have thus formed the chain of ideas in the heads of your citizens, you will then be able to pride yourselves on guiding them and being their masters. A stupid despot may constrain his slaves with iron chains; but a true politician binds them even more strongly by the chain of their own ideas; it is at the stable point of reason that he secures the end of the chain; the link is all the stronger in that we do not know of what it is made and we believe it to be our own work; despair and time eat away the bonds of iron and steel, but they are powerless against the union of ideas, they can only tighten it still more; and on the soft fibres of the brain is founded the unshakable base of the soundest Empires’” (Foucault quoting Servan in Discipline and Punish)
Classroom management is a beginning. The roots spread into other realms of existence as the child grows. Is there another way? A better way? I’m not sure exactly what. But, surely there’s something more freeing than silently imprinting allegiance and respect to one’s masters through subtle and consistent enculturation practices. Please prove that my speculations are deeply incorrect. Please show me that my experiences have simply been rare exceptions, and have driven me down a path of cynicism. Please.