ERIC Number: EJ1043818
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2014-Dec
Abstractor: As Provided
Foucault at School: Discipline, Education and Agency in "Harry Potter"
Children's Literature in Education, v45 n4 p285-297 Dec 2014
The formative power of children's literature is both great and suspicious. As a resource of socialization, the construction and experience of children's literature can be seen as modes of disciplinary coercion such as Michel Foucault has anatomized. "Harry Potter", as a "craze" phenomenon, has attracted particular controversy due to its intense commercialization and dissemination, raising questions about its socializing roles. Here I argue that "Harry Potter" itself addresses, represents, and reflects on socializing disciplines as both psychological and socio-historical processes, with special focus on and implications for educational scenes and methods. Discipline is shown to be inevitable and necessary, but not only in the coercive ways of Foucault. It is no less important for constructing the self in positive senses. Hogwarts, as the central site of action, becomes a stage for a wide variety of educational models and disciplinary modes and goals. These range from Dolores Umbridge, whose classroom is coercively disciplinary in full Foucauldian sense; through Snape's abuses of power, Albus Dumbledore's modelling of educational and moral values, and Harry's own role as student-teacher exemplifying educational principles which Jerome Bruner and others have called a "community of learning." This variety of educational experiences explores the possibilities through which discipline emerges not only as coercive, but also as formative in ways that are maturing, strengthening, and rewarding: a possibility with strong implications for questions of socialization and creativity in general. "Harry Potter" concludes with a reconstitution of self and society, in a way that endorses discipline even as it suspects its coercive abuses. This becomes not only a personal project but an explicitly social and political one, requiring both critique and investment in culture. Socialization then is shown to be a process of formation that is not merely coercive but creative.
Descriptors: Discipline, Childrens Literature, Self Concept, Socialization, Educational Methods, Teacher Student Relationship, Moral Values, Administrator Characteristics, Educational Principles, Creativity, Criticism, Educational Experience
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
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