Pedagogical Violence

Abstract

In this paper, we consider the phenomenon of “pedagogical violence” — infliction of physical, social, emotional, or psychological pains, or threat of such pains that is either the means for or non-accidental by-products of education used on a systematic basis. Pedagogical violence is often used for promoting certain desired learning in students. Alternatively, it can emerge as a violent reaction in students and teachers to particular educational settings directed against other students or teachers. In this paper, we review some of the debates and controversial issues around pedagogical violence, and we use a variety of illustrative examples to explore in more detail what pedagogical violence means in particular contexts. We argue that pedagogical violence is a natural consequence of alienated instrumental education. We will look at teachers’ desire to avoid physical and psychosocial pedagogical violence. We specifically consider diverse forms of psychosocial pedagogical violence and its issues such as: summative assessment, epistemological pedagogical violence, students’ ambivalence around pedagogical violence, rehabilitating/avoiding pedagogical violence through a carnival. We finish with a reflection about what can be done to minimize pedagogical violence. Our analysis heavily relies on the Bakhtinian theoretical framework of critical ontological dialogism.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Taylor_Gatto

  2. 2.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/School_corporal_punishment

  3. 3.

    We are thankful to John Ackroyd for providing this quote.

  4. 4.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/School_corporal_punishment

  5. 5.

    In Discipline and Punish, Foucault argues that modern society is a “disciplinary society,” meaning that power in our time is largely exercised through disciplinary means in a variety of institutions (prisons, schools, hospitals, militaries, etc.).

  6. 6.

    See the video documenting Elliott’s Socratic teaching on racism among college undergraduate students in the US https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=neEVoFODQOE.

  7. 7.

    Readers can also follow the YouTube discussion below the video.

  8. 8.

    E.g. see the following link on teacher sackings for this: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3834137/Female-teacher-sacked-10-month-affair-girl-student-17-father-spotted-love-bites-faces-struck-off.html

  9. 9.

    http://www.wpi.edu/Academics/ATC/Collaboratory/Idea/contractbenefits.html

  10. 10.

    Sometimes, when bribes are expected, withdrawal of bribes/rewards can be perceived by a student as a punishment, which can become pedagogical violence.

  11. 11.

    Although Sidorkin did not use the term “pedagogical violence” in his book – just “violence” or “school violence,” in our view, he meant and described pedagogical violence.

  12. 12.

    At the same time there is a counter-current of nostalgia for a physical punishment, with “a personal and caring touch” – i.e., so-called “tough love,” – over cold, calculative, and often irresponsible bureaucratic psychosocial punishments of “managing populous.” This sentiment can be found in Foucault (1995).

  13. 13.

    See, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Student_rights_in_higher_education.

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Acknowledgements

We want to thank our colleagues Ana Marjanovic-Shane, Mark Smith, Robert L. Hampel, and John Ackroyd, for providing critical feedback, terrific suggestions, and editing for earlier versions of the paper.

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Matusov, E., Sullivan, P. Pedagogical Violence. Integr. psych. behav. 54, 438–464 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12124-019-09512-4

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Keywords

  • Violence
  • Bakhtin
  • Coercion
  • Manipulation
  • Progressive education
  • Summative
  • Assessment
  • Corporal punishment