The wisdom of Foucault rings in my mind: “We are more than scores” echoing Dr. Michael Wesch

Blogging? Honestly, blogging has never been a thing that I would do in my life. When I learned that I had to do for GEDI class, I said to myself “so… it is a part of my Ph.D. program, so I am going to do it.” Well, after all, I have been well ‘disciplined’ throughout my education and more importantly my whole life, in a very Foucauldian sense. Being exposed to Foucault in my first semester at VT, maybe I am over thinking about the disciplined aspect of my agency; perhaps more precisely, my whole being…

 

“Punish and Discipline: The Birth of Prisons”

 

Source: https://educationmuseum.wordpress.com/2012/10/10/discipline-and-punish-the-birth-of-the-prison/

 

However, why not to give a shot to express my agency and my “humility” in blogging? In other words, not considering blogging as a tool to feel a sophisticated person or to resist by articulating my way of thinking or raising my voice; rather, as a way to find my words, to do self-reflection, and to critically see “who I am.” Along the line of Seth Godin’s speech on blogging, blogging can be really about “humility” that comes from writing, thinking about what I am going to say in three paragraphs. Seeing blogging as a way to respond out loud and to work ‘openly,’ as Doug Belshaw states, can be my excitement here, but not the continuation of my disciplinarity. So here I am!

“Teaching” and “learning”… I have been heavily thinking about these as I start to ‘teach’ this semester. How am I going to have a connection with my students? What does ‘a good teacher’ means to me? How do I learn, so that teach them to learn and study? How can I create a space for a friendly, open, and respectful environment to my students while they have been already exposed to political, cultural, and social divide? How to present “International Relations” as a fun class to them while we have been already living in a fragmented and more importantly unfair world? And, how should I “grade” them at the end of the day? By putting them in a ranking system, again in a Foucauldian sense?

Dr. Michael Wesch in his TED-talks can’t express better my concerns I listed here. Absolutely, “we [my students and myself too] are more than scores” and “learning is more than what can be scored.” He exactly articulates my feelings when he says

Real learning that questions that you take out from this class, questions that inspires you, can drive you, take you all over the world, open up new connections for you, and forces you to do things that you might think that you never do.

And, more importantly, teaching is about, as Wesch says, “not to have small talk in the class, rather “big” and “deep” questions” that we, as educators, should ask to our students to find ‘their agencies’ this time: “Who am I?, What am I going to do?, and Am I going to make it?”

Let’s give a try to think deeply about these in order to achieve having “connections’”and “sincerity” with our students and to provide them with a sense of compassion and an ability to love themselves in the process of real learning.

 

Maybe these questions take us to the moon! Who knows?

 

Cheers!

Şengül

8 Responses

  1. It is interesting you bring this up because it seems the other side of the internet coin is the panopticon no?

    1. Hey Jessie! Many thanks for your comment.
      Indeed, the bottom line to bring Foucault up here was not only to express my feeling towards the education that I am going through but also, more importantly, to show my “humility” and precisely “my agency” through blogging. Maybe the internet can be interpreted as a tool of surveillance and even some time that of policing function, to me, especially blogging is not something to do with that. Yeah we might discuss the internet as a policing space, but I believe, to some extent. It was a good brainstorming, thanks!

  2. I think that this idea of the internet being a panopticon is interesting, but perhaps not quite right. I agree with Şengül that students are often disciplined in particular ways and that the internet may help with the construction of students as merely scores or numbers or what have you. However, I think the idea of the internet as a panopticon might be a bit flawed. Foucault’s utilization of the panopticon relies on a particular premise of Jeremy Bentham’s original prison conception essentially reinforced the idea that someone is always watching, a critical element that is missing from the internet culture.

    Certainly, many people know that their information is being constantly tracked/logged but not all people are aware of this fact. I would extend this, in particular, to a lot of students who utilize software like Canvas. There is some question where students realize how much tracking is built into the faculty side of Canvas and how much student information professors have access too. Beyond that, before last class, I had no idea that information on Canvas usage was going to people like publishers and other outside/non-university entities. Thus, I think the internet and online student management tools lack that feature critical to the proper functioning of a disciplining panopticon.

    1. Hi Ray! I am so glad that you are interested in my post here, made this wonderful comment! Many thanks!

      It is much appreciated you brought the critical component of “panopticon” and its utilization by Foucault in a sense that people behave in a certain way ‘as if’ they are watched so that “power” mechanism does not need to do anything as people are always already making their self-disciplining!

      I definitely agreed with you that the internet in general, online student management, in particular, does not have any feature to make the subjects disciplined. It is much about getting to know the “privacy” of the students, which is, again, not really surveillance, as you said. Right!

      Thanks again!

      1. Hi Ray and Şengül,

        I enjoyed the discussion of the panopticon very much, Although it looks like it failed to materialize properly as a metaphor here. I still think it’s a very relevant point to bring up Foucault. It’s true that the “system” is not all-seeing, and the users are not all aware of the gaze of the system, still, I think there is an effort to maximally measure every behavior, interaction, and movement of the student on the LMS. The obsession with measurement is what reminds me of the later chapters in that good book 🙂

        1. Hi Arash,
          Thank you very much for your comment! Appreciated! Indeed, here I wasn’t intended to materialize the concept in-depth but this is useful to me, actually for food for thought 🙂 And, yes exactly 🙂 the same chapters echoed to me as well, all these benchmarks, ranking systems… Isn’t it because of these people internalize this notion of “getting by”, what Michel Wesh mentions in his TED-talk…

  3. Quick clarification on Foucault / Bentham / the Panopticon:
    The premise of the Panopticon is not that you are always under surveillance but that you know that you could be. Maybe someone is watching and maybe they aren’t. You don’t know. But because you can be observed at any time you modify your behavior on the assumption that you are “always” being watched — but you might not ever actually know.

    1. Dear Dr. Nelson,
      I am so glad to see your comment here! Many thanks for your time to read, your comment, and particularly the clarification that you made. Exactly. Indeed, as you said, this assumption that you are (might) “always” being watched is the moment when we start to discipline/modify our behaviors or maybe sometimes “not”, as I remember, Foucault believes, there are always some “deviants” in the society that leads people to position themselves in binary and dichotomous patterns: normal vs. abnormal. Once again, many thanks!

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