Tuesday, September 15, 2015
Remember the Panopticon?
Foucault was no fan of administrators generally, so I don’t think he’d be particularly bothered by any of this. But for those of us trying to redeem the promise of institutions, rather than writing them off as hopelessly corrupt, these questions matter. If we can’t get the cameras to stop watching, we need to educate the viewers about how to interpret what they see. And maybe we need to be willing to drop some of the blandness.
For written material, I suppose the answer is clear context. For a program awash in details, perhaps an approach to making progress without self-censorship is remembering lessons from failures in prior health plans. Perhaps helping to figure out the proper details can assuage the fears of those who would complain the most about the "wrong" implementation?
(Caveat, I missed the panopticon discussions. They didn't make it to my ___ engineering department.)
Another reason to be glad I am retired.
I've been thinking about this lately because of an issue with a single student who objected to a short story collection I'd assigned. On the one hand the school I'm teaching at has been supportive. On the other, they didn't have to be.
Stories like Campus Special Snowflakes Melt Upon Contact With Greek Mythology probably apply to just 1% of the student body, but that unrepresentative 1% can be very noisy. It's easier to pick something blander, grounded in a warranted paranoia. Some of which seems to be happening.
1) Make it illegal to record what goes on in a classroom without the permission of everyone present in the room and prosecute those who violate that learning environment. That is the law in some states, but prosecution is uneven because of a lack of clarity as to whether there is an expectation of privacy.
2) Record every class in its entirety so you can correct false claims about what took place and, if needed, sue the parties responsible. No notice would be required if what students might do is currently legal.
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