I am going to be leading a workshop on “Investigating teaching in your discipline” next Wednesday. The outline is attached to this page (below).

Discipline is an interesting word, which we often use without reflecting on the complex valency of meanings that it bears. I have been reading Foucault’s Discipline and Punish in preparation for the workshop.

Foucault sees discipline as largely a coercive function, with emphasis on that part of its semantic field that is about correction. And, while the corrective function has largely been polished up (or at least rolled in glitter) and sanitised by the academy for use as a synonym for “field of study”, much of the structure of domination and normalisation still lies below the surface of our academic disciplines.

Discipline… is a type of power, a modality for its exercise, comprising a whole set of instruments, techniques, procedures, levels of application, targets… And it may be taken over… by institutions that use it as an essential instrument for a particular end (schools, hospitals)… (Foucault, 1977: 215)

Foucault, M. (1977). Discipline and punish: the birth of the prison. (A. Sheridan, Tran.). London: Allen Lane, Penguin.