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ERIC Number: EJ900167
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010-Jul
Pages: 29
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 29
ISSN: ISSN-0826-4805
Narrating Characters: The Making of a School Bully
Jacobson, Ronald B.
Interchange: A Quarterly Review of Education, v41 n3 p255-283 Jul 2010
Jake was a popular sixth-grader at a local public school. He had plenty of friends and admirers, made good grades, and had adequate social skills. Jake was also a bully. Over the course of that sixth grade year Jake recruited a couple of friends, and then a much larger groups of peers, to target a classmate: Matthew. The school was quick to respond, but despite clear training, strong reprimand, and relentless surveillance the bullying of Matthew only stopped when he finally transferred to a new school. The next year Jake picked a new target: Trent. To date bullying research has largely employed empirical methodologies, including qualitative and quantitative approaches. This paper offers a fresh perspective, employing a missing philosophical lens toward the instantiation of bullying on the school campus. How might a bully--or a group of bullying participants--be narrated in such a way that he or she chooses violence or domination as a means through which to secure status? More specifically, what forces bear upon the experience of bullying, what cultures might its dominance mirror, and from where is its meaning derived? In considering these questions I employ the voices of two disparate philosophers; John Dewey and Michel Foucault.;Dewey argues that attitudes and dispositions are products of one's environment. As we engage in the cultures within which we live we move toward like-mindedness with those around us. While this common-sensical notion of cultural environing seems self- evident, it yet does not explain how a bully shows up within a culture that overtly and aggressively rejects bullying (e.g., schooling). Here, I turn to the work of Michael Foucault which provides us with tools to consider the ways in which schooling currently pits student against student in an ever present move toward standardization and normalization. I argue in this paper that bullying and schooling reflect the same culture; a culture that provides status by rising above (dominating) those around us. In this philosophical consideration of the phenomenon of school bullying, I not only analyze the cultures which guide dominating activities, but also suggest several re-imaginings of schooling itself; re-imaginings which may circumvent the move to bully before it begins. Ultimately this paper reminds us of the importance of attending to the normal ways we educate and the unintended consequences that form student attitudes, dispositions, and interactions
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A