CANES, BERETS AND GANGSTA RAP: DISCIPLINING SEXUALITY IN SCHOOL, 1920 - 1995.*

Dr Sue Middleton: E-Mail

Paper presented in a symposium, Rethinking the Lives of Women Educators: Poststructuralist and Materialist Feminist Approaches, at the Annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, New York, April 8 - 12, 1996.


The general judicial form that guaranteed a system of rights that were egalitarian in principle was supported by these tiny, everyday, physical mechanisms, by all those systems of micropower that are essentially non-egalitarian and asymetrical that we call the disciplines (Foucault, 1977, p222).

 

[The Panopticon] is a type of location of bodies in space, of distribution of individuals in relation to one another, of historical organisation, of distribution of centres and channels of power, of differentiation of the instruments and modes of intervention of power, which can be implemented in hospitals, workshops, schools, prisons (Ibid, p 205).

 

Situating the problematic out of which historical narrative is constructed within the discursive field of the present encourages feminist history to account for its own historicity (Hennessy, 1993, p119).

 

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In 1970 I began my first teaching job in a secondary school. Good teaching I believed, on the strength a stiff dose of Behaviourism at Teachers' College, involved being able to craft connections between the given content of the syllabus and 'where the kids were at' in their interests and 'stages of development.' If children were kept busy on activities which both interested and challenged (but did not overtax) them, they would develop as autonomous, self-disciplined learners. However, although I worked late most nights on my lesson plans and behavioural objectives, it became increasingly clear that teaching - initiating students into the disciplines of rational inquiry - was only a small part of what was required of me. I seemed to spend much of my working day on activities of surveillance and discipline - making sure that pupils were present at allocated times in specified spaces, ensuring that socks and hair ribbons conformed with uniform regulations, and punishing those who failed to comply. I wrote records of my students' presence and absence, their compliance with behavioural norms, and their ratings on numerical scales of achievement and intelligence. At times the activity I thought was the core of my chosen profession - educating - was marginalised or displaced by the processes of watching, regulating, standardising, and 'normalising' students and writing the results on official forms. My own compliance to the norms of 'the teacher' was monitored by inspectors, who graded me according to a hierarchical scale and placed my score alongside those of my peers on a normal curve. Education (learning the processes of autonomous and rational inquiry) seemed subordinate to its antithesis - obedience, compliance, or conformity. It is with this contradiction - between education and discipline - that this paper is concerned.

 

This dilemma perplexed me throughout my six years in school teaching. In 1976, pregnant, I returned to university. The contradictions between rationality and embodiment intensified as I struggled to breast feed and organise child care around classes and assignments. As I entered my thirties in the late 1970s, my research orientation took form amidst the effervescence of second wave feminism and the birth of women's studies. My work became part of the wider feminist project of critiquing the rationalism of the liberal/Enlightenment assumptions which underpinned the academic disciplines. In philosophy of education (Martin, 1987), developmental psychology (Gilligan, 1982), and sociology of education (Smith, 1990) we researched the ways in which - as the dominant framework in which educational policies and activities have been conceptualised, designed, and practised - liberal/Enlightenment theories have conceived of the educated person as autonomous, individualistic, competitive, disembodied, male, and quintessentially rational. Across the 'western' world, feminists critiqued the historical and geographical variants of Liberalism which have underpinned national, regional, and institutional policies for curricula, administrative practices, and rules and codes of behaviour in educational settings (Arnot and Weiler, 1993; Middleton, 1992b; Yates, 1993 ; Weiner, 1994). Resting as they do on the Descartian split - and hierarchy between - mind and body, Enlightenment frameworks have been seen by feminists and other cultural theorists as bracketing out - rendering invisible, irrelevant or unimportant - the bodily experiences of students and teachers. One of feminism's major achievements has been to reinstate the body - experiences of pregnancy, sexual orientation and sexual violence in educational settings - as an object of educational inquiry (Lees, 1986; Walkerdine, 1987). Such studies suggest that, while the overt aims of education have been to liberate the mind, for many, experiences of schooling are characterised more strongly by restrictions on the body.

 

Like many researchers, I have been attracted to Foucault's later works - Discipline and Punish (1977) and History of Sexuality (1980) - as providing a conceptual and historical background to researching "the intersection between the discipline of the body and the control of the population" (Giddens (1982, p 219 - 220). The idea of 'the control of the population' through various manpower-planning policies has been widely used in critical and feminist readings of education policy texts (Arnot and Weiler, 1993; Middleton, 1988, 1992; Weiner, 1994; Yates, 1993). However as yet we have comparatively few empirical studies which investigate connections between the macro-level of government education policy texts (policy-makers' views of the population 'from the top') and the micropractices of power in households and classrooms (the capillary workings of power 'from the bottom up'). This paper aims to investigate possible links between the historical changes in policy-makers' ideas about the aims of education for women and men during the years 1920-1995 and the 'micropractices of power' in schools which constructed bodily constraints and possibilities for students' and teachers' daily activities. The tension between education (liberating the mind) and discipline (restricting the body) is of central concern in framing my research question: How have the constraints on and possibilities for 'the body' experienced by teachers (as school-children and later as adult employees) in schools affected their ideas about education?

 

In addressing this question, Discipline and Punish is useful, for it was conceptualised by its author as an historical and conceptual background for investigations "of the power of normalisation and the formation of knowledge in modern society" (Foucault, 1977, p308). Foucault saw freedom and subjection as flip-sides of the same coin - as complementary rather than contradictory - and argued that "The Enlightenment, which discovered the liberties, also invented the disciplines" (ibid, p222). By means of archival researches, he argued that the development of modern industrial capitalism required that the human body become both productive (in a Marxian sense) and subjected (rendered governable). In liberal democracies the production/reproduction of productive and governable citizens is carried out within apparatuses of disciplinary power, such as public schools. The simultaneous rationality and governability - freedom and subjection - of citizens is ensured by a multiplicity of 'knowledges about' them as individuals. The professional knowledges or disciplines (such as psychology, demography, sociology, criminology, medicine and psychiatry) are, as Dorothy Smith (1987, p214) expressed it, "articulated to the ruling apparatus". Through providing specialised 'knowledges about' the individual - within and between the various "apparatuses of ruling" (Smith, 1990), the disciplines are complicit in the processes of surveillance and monitoring of the population. Within institutions such as schools, the bodies of individuals are subjected to the 'panoptic' (all-seeing) gaze: "a relation of surveillance, defined and regulated, is inscribed at the heart of the practice of teaching, not as an additional or an adjacent part of it, but as a mechanism that is inherent in it and which increases its efficiency" (Foucault, 1977, p 141).

 

The wider project from which this paper draws is an oral history/sociology of educational ideas in New Zealand from the point of view of practitioners. With the exception of feminist work such a framing has been rare in the history and sociology of New Zealand education . As Openshaw, Lee and Lee (1993) have pointed out in a recent literature review, the majority of New Zealand studies in both of these fields has been informed by either a liberal-progressive position (which focuses on education's progress towards equality) or a neo-Marxist/ revisionist view (the flip-side of the first in which education is seen as reproducing inequality and as designed primarily for purposes of social control). In the field here under consideration (the history/sociology of educational ideas) both liberal/progressive and revisionist studies have usually been based on the analysis of documents - policy statements, teachers' college textbooks, syllabi - and their lack of attention to teacher's perspectives makes teachers appear as passive recipients of the government line. Our approach brings teachers to the foreground as creative strategists who actively construct their educational ideas from the resources made available to them within the constraints and possibilities of their circumstances - historical and political; cultural, geographical, discursive, generational, biographical. Life-history interviews provide useful data for studying how such theories/practices are created in the course of teachers' everyday professional activities and personal lives. Interview data is placed in the context of the (historical, geographical etc) context in which it was created - the focus is equally and simultaneously on "biography, history and social structure" (Mills 1959).

 

Over the last two years my colleague (Helen May) and I have conducted life-history interviews with 150 New Zealand teachers and former teachers who range in age from 21 to their mid-90s. The focus of the interviews has been on how and why these teachers developed their educational ideas. We have engaged them in conversations about their own childhoods and experiences as school pupils, their reasons for choosing teaching, their experiences as trainee teachers, and significant influences on their thinking during their teaching careers. While Helen May interviewed 75 early childhood and infant educators, I interviewed 75 teachers of secondary, intermediate, and older primary school children. In the course of my interviews, the teachers told me many stories about discipline, punishment, and the regulation and normalisation of their sexed/gendered bodies as school pupils, as student teachers, and as practising teachers. This paper is based on those portions of my 75 interviews which addressed these issues.

 

A Conceptual Framework For A History Of The Schooling Of The Body.

New Zealand educational writers (historians and policy-makers) have drawn conceptual maps of the shifts in the dominant ideas which have informed education policy for state schools - the kinds of institutions deemed appropriate, the curriculum, etc - since their inception (e.g. Beeby, 1986; Renwick, 1986). Although the details of these categorisations have varied, with respect to the secondary schools in the twentieth century, historians and policy makers have identified certain core values and ideas as characterising four or five distinct 'phases'or 'stages' in New Zealand's educational development (Beeby used the term 'myths'). Such maps provide me with a useful starting point for constructing a framework with which to explore the discipline of the body in intermediate (junior high school) and secondary schools within living memory.

 

According to Beeby (1986) and Renwick (1986), government policies on schooling in the early twentieth century - the first phase- were based on the then current notions of 'the survival of the fittest'. While this idea continued into the 1920s - 30s, it was modified during the second phase by an increasing - in part psychologically-informed - emphasis on the developmental needs of the individual child. The third phase is the post-World War Two era, a time which has been described by many writers as having been shaped by the government's prioritising of a version of 'equality of opportunity' which was premised on the notion that 'equal means the same.' The fourth is the period from the late 1960s to the early 1980s when there was an increasing neo-Progressivist focus on pluralism, diversity, and freedom of student choice. While historians have not yet explored the period since the restructuring which was begun in the mid-1980s in any depth, sociologists and others have added a fifth set of discourses which have dominated the policies of this era - a dual emphasis on 'New Right' economic assumptions and on 'targeting' to achieve equality of outcomes (Middleton, Codd and Jones, 1990).

 

When I began this analysis of my interview data, I tried to squeeze it into this chronological framework. However, the men who mapped the eras did not explore whether or not these signified changes in gender relations and I was curious to see whether or not the shifts in the ideological construction of gender relations identified in feminist studies (Fry, 1985; Tennant, 1986) corresponded with the eras identified in the general history texts. A policy-maker's perspective is a view 'from the top' - as the overarching perspective of the manpower planner, it explains the ideals, reviews the relevant information, and articulates the strategies by means of which schooling is intended to regulate and shape the population. However, when viewed 'from the bottom up', the disciplinary practices described by my informants - those which regulated their embodied sexuality - refused to fit neatly into the top-down categorisations of the government policy-makers. These stories from teachers about everyday life in the schools they had attended as pupils and those in which they taught, reveal assumptions and practices which were often out of step with the rationalist ideals of the State. While there is some relationship between such practices and the broader 'myths' or 'eras' identified by the historians and policy makers, my data suggest that disciplinary practices characteristic of former eras continued unchanging in specific schools contemporaneously with newer forms of discipline and educational thinking and they reveal continuities as well as change.

 

My approach, then, in the following analysis, will be both chronological and thematic. Each 'cross-section,' or 'slice,' of chronological time is viewed from the perspectives of the memories of multiple generations - those who were children, adolescents, and adults at the time. This enables me to focus on ways in which the bodily disciplining of teachers and their students are interdependent. For, as Sari Biklen explained (1995, p179), "School rules regulate both students and teachers. Teachers' bodies are regulated by the very restrictions they establish for the children... adults' days [are] controlled by needing to be placed in a supervisory position in relation to children." On occasions the 'slice of time' approach is blurred, for when my data raise a theme in one era and some informants carry this theme through into later segments of chronological time, I have (as in the case of the material on caning) run with the theme rather than the chronology.

 

The salient themes which 'emerged from the data' and which I shall unpack in the remainder of this paper may be introduced in the words of two of my interviewees. Sue Jepson (b1916) had attended a coeducational secondary school in a provincial town between 1930-1934:

 

We were divided into four houses for sports. At the end of every month marks were credited to your house. They had a very strict prefect system. If you weren't a prefect you couldn't walk up the main steps into college, you had to go around through the back entrance. The prefects had to examine the uniforms every Monday morning to see if they were the correct length. And boys and girls had a separate playground, of course. We spent the whole of interval walking up and down under the Elm trees and talking. The boys had more sport.

 

Here Sue Jepson has raised several points which recurred throughout the interview data. First, she identifies a system of surveillance in which some students (prefects) monitor and discipline other students on behalf of the staff. In return for policing the minutiae of other students' dress, prefects could 'walk up the main steps into college', instead of using 'the back entrance' like other students. Second, despite the coeducational nature of the school, the girls and boys were segregated at play, with the boys engaging in more physical activity while the girls walked and talked. The 'domestication of girls' and the 'toughening of men' in single-sex or coeducational settings is a central theme in the data. My second statement is from Mary Donohue (b1937), who had attended a single-sex girls' school from 1951-1955:

 

the teacher who took us for Social Studies was a Miss Roberts, who was suited, with a tie, a real dragon, we never dared misbehave in her classes, but we certainly did in a lot of the teachers' classes...Miss March was the Principal. She was a little tiny woman. She was just a small woman, and she treated us all as if we were imbeciles, and we were scared stiff of her. There was a tremendous amount of fear. The prefects also gave us a lot of fear - they ruled us with a rod of iron too.

 

As Sari Biklen has observed (1995, p178), "Teachers' bodies are objects of the student gaze. When women recall their ...school teachers one of the primary things they remember is their teachers' appearance." This statement raises the question of teachers' stature, demeanour and bearing in relation to their authority or power over students.

 

In as chronological a pattern as possible, I shall explore the following themes as my respondents raised them: punishment by teachers and by 'students as agents', gender segregation, the policing of dress, and the differential spatial locations and freedoms of movement permitted male and female students.

 

Disciplining Bodies, Sexualising Space, 1920s - 1945.

From the late nineteenth century and during the 1920s, Social Darwinist ideas about how to ensure 'the survival of the fittest' underpinned a highly selective secondary school system. With their highly British academic curricula, state and private secondary schools were intended for an academic and professional elite. From 1920 - 1935 this discourse was augmented by the influence of 'Progressivism', as the new psychological and psychoanalytic approaches to child development (May, 1992a) together with 'technologies' such as the Intelligence Test made it possible to focus more specifically on the 'needs' of the individual, although this continued to be done within the parameters of a highly selective and differentiated secondary school system. Under the leadership of the Director of Education, Habens, the availability of secondary schooling was extended by the provision of Technical High Schools for those who were perceived as being 'less academic' but who merited a vocational training for the new industries and offices which were being established in the 1920s (Day, 1992). During these years Junior High Schools were also introduced at least in part as a means of identifying the kind of secondary school (academic or technical) for which a child was best fitted (Openshaw, Lee and Lee, 1993).

 

While many historians have studied the ways in which Social Darwinism supported the retention of class and racial hierarchies on the grounds that these were 'natural' (McKenzie, 1975; McGeorge, 1981), feminists have pointed out that, in addition, the Social Darwinist and 'individual needs' theories of the first third of the twentieth century were premised on strict prescriptions for the differentiated disciplining of male and female bodies in the family and the school (Fry, 1985; Olssen, 1981; Tennant, 1986). Despite the protestations of some key women doctors and feminist teachers of the time (Bunkle, 1980; Tennant, 1986), the weight of medical and popular opinion supported schooling and child rearing practices which emphasised a Spartan bodily discipline (including military training) for boys, and a watered down academic curriculum (which would include compulsory domestic science in the place of higher mathematics and physics) for girls (Fry, 1985; Olssen, 1981; Tennant, 1986). Believing that the body had only a fixed amount of energy, scientists argued that too much 'cram' could damage it. Parents were advised on how to prevent social pathology by monitoring the most intimate of their children's bodily habits - the feeding and bowel movements of babies were to be regulated by the clock; and 'vices' such as 'infantile onanism' prevented or medically treated (Parkinson, 1991). Erik Olssen illustrates these ideals with the help of quotations from the works of Sir Truby King:

 

Boys needed 'a cold bath in the morning... plenty of open-air exercise... and very little evening work'; girls, endangered by 'over-exertion', often ended up in mental asylums. Worse, over-exertion at academic work impaired 'the potentialities of reproduction and healthy maternity'... If girls worked too hard at school they would become, as King liked to say, citing Herbert Spencer as his authority, flat-chested and unfitted for maternity. Educating women for domesticity, he believed, would give 'an enormous benefit to the women, and prospectively to the race.

 

An academic education for girls - especially in mathematics and physical sciences - could weaken their physiological capacities for menstruation and reproduction. In the late 1910s - 1920s, secondary schooling for boys and girls was also influenced by Eugenicist notions - that it was women's responsibility to breed a healthy 'race' and men's to defend it (Tennant, 1986; Olssen, 1981; Tolerton, 1992). My informants' stories about junior high school and secondary schooling in the 1920s and 1930s told of micropractices which were consistent with the social goals of the 'domestication' of women and the 'toughening' of men. To illustrate these, I trace two of the themes which recurred in my interviews about this period: physical punishment and coeducation.

 

Consistent with the ethos of 'toughening' boys, the carefully controlled administering of the cane by male teachers was common. In an ethnographic study of caning in New Zealand schooling during the late 1960s, Joseph Mercurio (1972) argued that the administering of the cane to students by teachers was very much a rite or a ritual. The 'spectacle' (Foucault, 1977) of the ritual may have played as large a part as the physical act itself in maintaining order. This was graphically described by Barry Keith(b1931), who had attended a prestigious city state boys' school in the 1950s:

 

I remember the first day because my form master really terrified me. The first thing he did was to show us the range of canes that he had. He had this box alongside his desk and he held up canes of different lengths and thicknesses and informed us how the canes were to be graded. The bigger you got the heavier the cane. I remember that very well.

 

In a few boys' schools this tradition continued unbroken right into the late 1980s, when corporal punishment was made illegal. For example, Noel Hayworth (b1970) described the ways the boys at a provincial boys' college regarded their abilities to withstand the pain of being caned as a source of pride and prestige:

 

He got marched out with the teacher's hand around his collar and down to the caning room. I've looked in the caning room - you go into this small room, and there's just canes right around the walls. They had to have another teacher there as a witness; they had to sign their name in the book, and that sort of thing. And then the guys would come back with a notch in the belt. And your mana would be in terms of how many notches you had in your belt.

 

A somewhat different, romanticised view of the place of corporal punishment in the making of a man was that offered by Raymond Wilson (b1939). 'Taking your punishment like a man' was integral to the chivalric code of honour he had imbibed through "the role model thing" and his reading from the age of seven or eight: "Boys Own magazines - the hero figures in them. Teddy Lester's School Days. William books. Anything to do with sport... I can remember in the Third Form reading The White Company and the Connon Doyle ones." Isolated for a substantial part of his time from women, he developed an idealised view of the female sex as 'up on a pedestal' and mentioned reading "The Code of Chivalry, and the Knights in Shining Armour going off and rescuing the damsel in distress, those kind of romantic chivalrous tales." When, in 1953, he had gone to a metropolitan boys' school, he found a culture which was continuous with his boyhood fantasies:

 

I can remember particularly when I was a boy the code of honour: that if you were naughty and you got caught you took your punishment like a man, even though it hurt. You wouldn't ever sneak, and you wouldn't let somebody else take the blame...You didn't tell lies. You owned up and took your punishment. The Grammar School was an extension of what I'd been reading about. You came in as a snotty nosed third former, and you saw the giants of men in the seventh form. They played for the First Eleven in cricket, and the First Fifteen in rugby. They were Gods, and you admired them. And when you heard something not to their credit you didn't know what to make of it, because the foundations of your world were being shaken. There was a good deal of romance in it.

 

While this man's experiences had been seemingly benign, others spoke about cruelty and the tolerance for this which was encouraged by the use of prefects to cane other students. For example, David Don (b 1932) said that "Prefects used to cane, which I think is outrageous. Very early in my teaching career I was opposed to corporal punishment of any sort. But even the prefects did it." As a beginning teacher in the 1950s, he had had to use the cane in order to survive. His small stature made him vulnerable in a setting in which size and authority were correlated:

 

To start with you were just part of the system. I was just a beginning teacher. You're not able to challenge the whole thing, so you become part of it. I used the cane, but I don't think I could have been very much feared because I wasn't that strong physical type. But then fairly early on I decided it was a very bad thing.

 

A similar perspective was outlined by George Reed (b1926). When he took up a position as a Senior House Master in a state boys' school in the early 1960s, he found that a system of institutionalised physical punishment was deeply inscribed in the culture of the hostel. Physical violence went deeper than the ritual administrations of the cane in formal settings (Mercurio, 1972) and the culture of the boarding part of the school had become centred around an acceptance of bullying, to which a blind eye had been turned by 'the authorities':

 

Being the Senior House Master [there] was a memorable time. There were 280 boys; bullying was rampant, and respected. I was in charge of these 280 boys. I had House Masters under me. My main task as far as I was concerned was to get rid of bullying, which I did with some success, never fully. It was right in the grain of the school. Before my time somebody was roasted over the fire, that sort of thing. After I left, fortunately, not when I was here, they threatened to hang a boy, and they put him on a chair. And they said, If you don't do something or other, we'll hang you. And he got scared and jumped.

 

At first it may seem that the use of physical force in boys' schools may have little, if any, relevance for the lives and perspectives of women teachers, apart from the few who taught in boys' schools. However, the constraints and possibilities of women teachers' work are always/already inscribed by the wider social order. Women's competence to handle boy students beyond the early primary school years has been questioned throughout the history of schooling because of their perceived lack of physical strength and stature and has been used as a rationale to confine women teachers to the junior classes (May, 1992a; Grumet, 1988). As Sari Biklen (1995, p 179) posed the question, "could women 'manage' larger boys?" Mr Peter Harris (b1907) described how, in his early primary school teaching career in the 1920s, girls and boys received different punishments for the same 'offence' ('making mistakes' in their school work):

 

The cane was used when I first started, and shortly afterwards they brought in the strap, but not for girls. You just had to talk to them, perhaps give them some other form of punishment. I didn't have any difficulty. I think the way you handled them was the main thing. Children got punished for their work in those days. Used to get punished for not knowing a spelling or for very little with harsh punishment. Not all used it.

 

Several of those interviewed - both women and men - reported having been beaten by women teachers. Paul Barton (b1936) had attended a small-town secondary school between 1950-1951 and had been put off French by a brutal woman teacher:

 

I had the most incredibly, tyrannical French teacher who used to beat the hell out of anybody who made any mistake - you got belted for every mistake you made in your French vocabulary. So there was always this line-up of kids at the end of the period who got whacked by this teacher.

 

Some of the women teachers I interviewed found their authority challenged by boys and, in order to survive in the job, found it necessary to resort to the use of corporal punishment. For example, Vera Grant (b1929) explained her initial difficulties in a new coeducational high school in the early 1960s:

 

I had a 4M - a technical class - for full maths. In those days, if you wanted to do an apprenticeship you had to do full maths. They'd put me in it deliberately because nobody else could cope with them. And I couldn't, either. I'd never, ever, had a boy strapped in my life, and one boy was giving me absolute hell. I'd had enough, and I sent him out to get strapped . And it's very interesting - I don't entirely agree with Jane Ritchie [an anti-corporal punishment campaigner] on these things because of that incident. That boy walked back, walked into the class, beamed at me, sat down, and said, "Shut up you fellows and listen to the teacher!" and I didn't have any problems with the class. He respected me, he really did. I think it was the Principal that you sent them to in those days... That was a lesson to me, that there are different people who react to different types of discipline. I had an enormous influence on that boy, and he still beams at me if he sees me in the street.

 

Conversely, some men reported difficulties in controlling the classroom behaviour of girls in coeducational settings. For example, Ernest McKenzie (b1928) described a disagreement about this issue in 1950 between teachers' college students (many of whom were assertive returned servicemen) and their aging and authoritarian lecturer:

 

One of the 'old digs' (the returned men) said to the lecturer "Mr Jones, I have been in a co-ed school on practice... and I found that the girls were really more of a nuisance than the boys. You have been talking as if the boys could cause trouble but actually it's the girls. And I found it more difficult to know what to do with them. They were giggling away repeatedly and passing notes to the boys who weren't terribly responsive. It was all a bit awkward. How would you deal with that?" Jones said "What I would do would be to take the two boys nearest to the girls, take them outside and cane them."

 

Corporal punishment, then, was intrinsic to the maintenance of order in secondary schools. The culture of masculinity demanded that teachers administer corporal punishment in order to avoid being positioned as 'weak' or 'soft' by their colleagues and students. Authority was, at least in part, equated with physical stature and strength, a quality deemed to be lacking in women and suspect in men with smaller bodies. Women teachers who used corporal punishment directly risked being seen as lacking in femininity. Others had to rely on the authority of their male colleagues to administer it on their behalf. Accustomed to the lore of the cane, some men found themselves lacking in the disciplinary techniques necessary in classrooms of girls where the cane was disallowed. As an act of physical coercion and as spectacle, corporal punishment can be read as complicit in the construction of embodied masculinity AND embodied femininity.

 

While methods of punishment were important in the 'hardening of men and domestication of women', of possibly greater significance were the sexually differentiated allocations of space - for "discipline proceeds from the distribution of bodies in space" (Foucault, 1977, p141). In his discussion of French secondary schools in the eighteenth century: Foucault wrote that

 

one can have the impression that sex was hardly spoken of at all in these institutions. But one only has to glance over the architectural layout, the rules of discipline, and their whole organisation: the question of sex was a constant preoccupation (Foucault, 1980, p31).

 

In the period here under discussion, spaces (physical, architectural and intellectual) were differentially allocated to girl and boy pupils and to men and women teachers within and by schools.

 

The first secondary schools in New Zealand (state and private) were single-sex, with a highly academic curriculum. While the physical excesses of the cultures of some of the conservative boys' schools were described above, parallel excesses sometimes developed in some of the more traditional girls' schools. Annie Hobson (b1912) was a single woman who had enjoyed teaching during World War Two in what was for its time quite a liberal provincial coeducational school. When the servicemen on the staff returned, she had been required to give up her senior teaching position in their favour, and had sought promotion by moving to a metropolitan all-girls' school. She was shocked by the rigidities and the 'scattiness' which had been fostered by the static staffing and sex-segregation there:

 

We'd had a staff room at [the provincial co-educational school]. It was a big comfortable room where we all sat and did our work and had lunch. There was a community of men and women. But at [the metropolitan] Girls' College they had two huge tables jammed into the staff room and you had your own little possie at one of those. I was sat next to two of the staff who had been there since the year dot. What shocked me was that if a man came into the school it was like a fluttering dove cote. A pair of trousers just set the whole place into a flutter.

 

In rural districts and towns whose populations were too small to support two single-sex schools, high schools (such as District High schools) were co-educational. The new metropolitan and provincial Technical High Schools and Junior High Schools which were built in the 1920s and 1930s were also co-educational. However, in these it was common practice for girls and boys to be separated for classes as well as for recreation. In the Technical Colleges, girls and boys took different courses and their class placements, even for general subjects, were based on the fact that girls took commercial or domestic courses, while boys studied for the trades. The English classes taught by Janet Davis (b1916) in the early 1950s at a metropolitan Technical College were typical: "There were more boys in the senior school than there were girls. I even had separate boys' and girls' classes. They were doing such separate courses that, even for English, they didn't come together." In 1942-1943, Joan Fowler (b1930) had attended the Junior High School section of a provincial coeducational High School and commented that in the first year of the secondary school (Third Form), only the top academic pupils (those taking Latin) were placed in mixed-sex classes: "You went on to the Girls' High School. The Intermediate stage had been separated - you were in a girls' class then. So in the third form suddenly acquiring boys in your Latin class I think probably put up the incidence of people wanting to take Latin!"

 

Not only were the sexes spatially separated, but facilities, rights and freedoms accorded them were often unequal (Fry, 1985). Audrey Hall (b1928) had attended an urban high school from 1942-1945 and her comparison of the spatial freedoms permitted girls with those allowed the boys illustrates such inequality:

 

We had separate entrances, separate areas to the school, separate playing fields. Girls were second class citizens. The grounds were quite extensive, but the girls were confined to an area around the rose garden, the tennis courts, the basketball courts, although we went to a park to play basketball. The boys had all the rest, the lower grounds. The rationale was that the boys' sports (football and so on) took such a lot of room. But this segregation and discrimination continued right through the school. When I became a Prefect I went to see the Principal and said that it wasn't fair that girls had to have written permission to go down town after school, but boys could go down town anyhow. I remember him saying, "Boys only get into trouble if girls are there, so we have to keep the girls in the school." I remember that as a very clear example of discrimination. Instead of saying, "The girls don't get into trouble, so they can go down town without permission," they said that the girls had to have permission, so the boys wouldn't see them down town!

 

Similar injustices over inequitable geographical freedoms were described by Janet Davis (b1916) in the case of the Technical College in which she was teaching - a growing high school which was beginning to spread over a number of campuses:

 

We were in the [buildings in the centre of town] where the major part of the staff was. The girls had the only playground; they only had this very small area. The boys were allowed to go into the streets and out to Albert Park. It was felt that the girls needed to be protected from the Big City, and they weren't allowed to go out.

 

Students who had boarded in the single sex hostels attached to some town secondary schools noted similar differences in the physical freedom permitted to boys' hostel and girls' hostel students: "the boys at the hostel had a totally different set of rules to the girls." Another interviewee mentioned that his father had thought similarly when he was deciding which secondary schools to send his sons and daughters to "My father thought girls had to be protected and boys had to experience life." Presumably it was women's 'impregnability' and 'rapability' which underscored the relative spatial freedoms of men and confinement ('domestication' or house-boundness) of women.

 

In this discussion of the period 1920s - 1945 I have chosen two themes: the disciplining of the corporeal bodies of individuals, and the differential and sometimes inequitable allocation of space to males and females. The interviews from which the data quoted here were extracted were structured around the question of how each interviewee's ideas about education had come to form. Some of these stories from teachers (who today are in the 60s-90s age range), reveal a 'sense of something wrong' (Mitchell, 1973) - a feeling of injustice. For some of the men, their experiences with regimes of corporal punishment administered by teachers and/or prefects had generated in them the desire to change things at the time the availability of less violent disciplinary techniques created the conditions of possibility for the cane's abolition. The women's experiences of confinement in relation to the spatial freedoms offered to men generated in them a desire to make things more 'equal' for women and girls in education. While the men quoted here became active in later life with respect to the abolition of the cane, the women became active participants in the movement which was to develop by the late 1960s for equal opportunities for girls and women in schools.

 

 

The Post-World War Two Years: 1945 to the late-1960s.

Historians and policy makers have often characterised the post- World War Two years as heralding Progressive shifts in thinking about, and provisions for, secondary education. The First Labour Government was elected in 1935 with a firm socialist agenda of equal opportunities which were to be provided in comprehensive schools. Technical schools were to be phased out and technical and academic curricula taught in the same institutions. The Thomas Committee (Dept of Education, 1943) conceptualised education as a means of producing individuals who would have equal opportunities to succeed within the hierarchies of capitalism and who would value democracy as a way of life. This equality of opportunity would be accorded to both sexes - both girls and boys would experience all the academic subjects of the common core curriculum.

 

However, within this and other key texts of the time, women and girls were also positioned as 'different' from men. As the Thomas Report expressed it, "In addition, every intelligent parent would wish a daughter to have the knowledge, skill and taste to manage a home well and make it a pleasant place to live in" (Ibid, p 17 ). Domestic science (usually in the form of cooking and sewing classes) was to be made compulsory for all girls. Furthermore, the differential use of masculine, feminine, and gender-neutral pronouns with respect to certain optional subjects conveyed clear assumptions that the physical sciences and mathematical subjects (the most quintessentially rational and disembodied subjects) would 'naturally' be chosen by boys and the humanities subjects (concerned with the expression of feelings) would 'naturally' be chosen by girls. As Helen May (1990b) has summarised it, the minds of men and women were conceptualised as 'equal but different.' While the majority of the new schools built to accommodate the children of the post-war baby boom were co-educational, the curricular differentiation between the sexes meant that, especially in the technical subjects, a great deal of gender segregation remained.

 

While the issues discussed in the previous section with respect to the 1920s-1945 era (corporal punishment and the gendered allocation of space) continued to shape students' and teachers' school lives in the post-war era, I have chosen to emphasise different themes in this section in order to broaden this investigation of the micropractices of disciplinary power. First, I shall raise the question of attitudes towards the biological/ reproductive body and, second, I address the policing of clothing.

 

In the previous section I overviewed Social Darwinist notions about the biological body as underpinning the sexual differentiation of secondary curricula and space. Although the Victorian and Edwardian eras had generated a plethora of scientific and medical discourses about sex, it was 'not to be mentioned' in everyday conversations. In A History of Sexuality, Vol 1, Foucault argued that "What is peculiar to modern societies... is not that they consigned sex to a shadow existence, but that they dedicated themselves to speaking of it ad infinitum, while exploiting it as the secret" (Foucault, 1980, p 36. Emphases in the original). A World War Two sex education pamphlet stated that "in all groups of women, one finds a surprisingly large number who possess very little, or else a very inaccurate knowledge of their own bodies - or their organs and the function each performs" (Smith, 1942). Children were brought up to think of their genitalia as 'private parts'; the acts of urination and defecation as 'rude'; and the issue of 'where babies come from' was often masked in evasions and lies. An illustration of such prudery comes from Mary Donohue (b1937), who had attended a provincial Girls' High School from 1951 - 1955. In keeping with the Progressive ethos which was being disseminated by the Department of Education, Miss Brown had taken her Fifth Form Biology class out of the school and into the wider community for a field trip:

 

We were the first group that ever went out of the school on a trip. We were so excited and so elated about it. We had to make this report to the rest of the school about what we'd done. And so we made up this little review thing. We sang and did all sorts of things in assembly. When we got back in the science lab in the first period after assembly, after this report we'd made for the whole school, Miss March [the Head Mistress] came in, and she just rubbished us. She had the teacher in tears, she had all of us in tears, because in our ditty, we had said that somebody had got locked in the toilets. Miss March said that NO person ever mentioned the word toilet in public. I can still see it - this little lady looking down on these great big girls as if we were the lowest form of crawling creatures. In our little ditties we'd said that somebody had got locked in the toilet on the way up there when we got off the bus, and of course we had this laugh about having to get this person out of the toilet. And because we had mentioned that she had all of us in tears; the whole class in tears, and also the teacher.

 

In a context in which such reticence on bodily matters was widespread, many young women were ill-prepared for menstruation, and found their first period a terrible shock. The 'senior woman' in co-educational schools sometimes found her administrative responsibilities centred around the menstruous bodies of girls students. For example, Joan Fowler (b1930) described her role as 'Senior Mistress' in the early years of one of the new co-educational secondary schools that had opened in the post-war years: "the school only had third and fourth formers, so I was teaching third and fourth formers and at the same time getting all the girls in the hall and giving them a little chat on where to buy sanitary towels and things." Despite the good intentions of such Senior Mistresses, the embarrassment of menstruation made life uncomfortable for many girls, even those who were attending all-girls' schools in the mid-1950s:

 

We had these horrible gym slips in the summer which were a light green. We'd have to sit for hours during the day and of course menstrual blood would just soak right through. It would soak into my uniform, I'd be stuck at school with no way of getting any other towels - I was too shy and ill at ease to go and get new towels. Sometimes I would just go through the day incredibly uncomfortable and with my uniform just covered in blood behind. It was really horrible. I hated that.

 

During the 1950s and the 1960s, evidence of female reproductive sexuality began to become visible and acceptable in schools. Before this time, intellectuality/professionality and the expression of female reproductive sexuality had been disursively positioned as contradictory. As has been outlined elsewhere (Middleton, 1988; 1996), married women were, at various times in the history of New Zealand education, barred from teaching or from training as teachers. During the teacher shortages of World War Two, married women were 'manpowered' back into the classroom, although they were expected to return to the home afterwards. However, the baby boom years of the 1950s and 1960s required the recruitment of married women teachers back into service. Formerly banned from the classroom, women's pregnant and lactating bodies became permissable and visible to students. Margaret Ryan (b 1938), a mother of five, described how she had combined teaching and the breastfeeding of one of her children up to the age of six months:

 

They rang and asked me to come back. I said, "Well, look, I've had a baby in the holidays and she isn't even six weeks old yet"...I didn't fancy taking a six-week old baby that I was breast-feeding into a classroom, so I employed a housekeeper... You feed them at eight a.m. You'd taken your milk off in the middle of the night before [to leave in a bottle for the housekeeper]. I had to be home by four. I was oozing milk if I didn't. It worked out quite nicely - it suited me. It wasn't that I chose to go back - I was badgered to go back.

 

Another source of the beginnings of official acceptance of speaking out about sexual matters in schools was the introduction of lessons in the biological 'facts' of human reproduction. Recognising the widespread ignorance of bodily parts and functions, the Thomas Committee had taken the somewhat radical step of advising schools to introduce "lessons in biology and in the anatomy and physiology of the reproductive system" (Department of Education, 1943, p 53). Knowing the scientific facts was supposed to ensure that teenagers made the rational choice to abstain from sexual intercourse (Fine, 1988). The onus for such rational choice was placed on girls, whose "desire for sexual intercourse" was seen as being less than that of boys in whom, according to the Department of Health (1955, p7), "sexual desire is aroused much more easily." This reversed the usual binary in which mind was constituted as masculine and the body as feminine. Within this rationalist/scientific version of sex education, the good woman (or virgin) was positioned as the agent of (rational) self-control and the man as a potential victim of bodily desires, which could be controlled with the help of a good woman. The girl who gave in to the desires of the male was lacking. Either she was deficient by nature (had an unnatural and therefore unfeminine sex drive) or she was lacking in moral character (self-control).

 

This double standard echoed the opinions of the Mazengarb Committee, which had been set up by Government after several 'moral panics' (Shuker, 1987) over the overt, and sometimes 'deviant' sexual activities of teenagers. In 1954 two Christchurch girls had murdered the mother of one of them and their 'unnatural' and 'deviant' lesbianism was blamed for this atrocity. Another scandal concerned a group of girls and boys in the Hutt Valley who had truanted from school and had 'acquired unlawful carnal knowledge' of one another. The necessity for adults to police the sexual knowledge and activities of adolescents was taken so seriously that the Government distributed the Mazengarb Committee's 'Report on Moral Delinquency in Children and Adolescents' to every New Zealand family. "Nowadays," warned the Committee, "girls do not always wait for an advance to be made to them, nor are they reticent as they used to be in discussing sexual matters with the opposite sex. It is unfortunate that in many cases girls, by immodest conduct, have become the leaders in sexual misbehaviour and have in many cases corrupted the boys" (Mazengarb, 1954, p 15). It is hardly surprising that these ideas resulted in a renewed enthusiasm for the spatial segregation of the sexes by means of single sex schools. Waiwhetu Girls' High School was opened in the Hutt Valley, and in several cities and provincial towns whose secondary school-age population was outgrowing their sole secondary school's buildings, the decision was to divide the coeducational school into two single-sex schools rather than to add a new co-educational school.

 

It is in the context of this discussion about how teenage girls' and boys' embodied sexuality was regarded that I shall raise the question of the 'normalising' of dress in schools. New Zealand secondary schools have a long tradition of uniform requirements and strict policing of these - a process which continued unchanged during the post-war years. To illustrate the rigidities of the regulation of students' dress, let me 'flash back' in time to World War Two. Audrey Hall (b1928) recalled that no relaxation in uniform regulations had been permitted to accommodate bodily discomforts caused by the impact of the rationing of coal:

 

There was no heating. It was frosty in the morning and every morning we used to run around the block to get us warm for the rest of the day... We all wore mittens, black woollen mittens. You had to have the right colour, you couldn't have coloured mittens, and you couldn't have coloured hair ribbons or anything like that.

 

School uniforms required gloves and berets for girls in winter and Panama hats in the summer. Boys had to wear caps. Janet Fowler (b1916) recalled being interviewed in 1959 for a Principal's job in a provincial girls' school: " I can remember being asked such stupid questions, like did I think the girls should wear hats and gloves. I think I agreed that they should wear hats, although I disposed of hats after I got there. But I think I was a bit toey about gloves."

 

Some teachers rebelled against what they saw as the over-regulation of dress. Ngaire Donaldson (b1938) had begun her career as a Home Science teacher:

 

I found the subject to be quite uninspiring to teach. I broke all the rules. I had students rushing around not in white aprons - I had them rushing around in all sorts of different coloured aprons. That upset the Inspectors. Not only was the teacher not in white, but she had her students not in them. I upset them further because my sewing machines had creative soft sculpture as their machine covers.

 

The strict uniform requirements went beyond clothing - schools had rules about hairstyles as well. A dramatic vignette comes from an interview with Sean O'Leary (b1951), whose first two years of secondary schooling in 1964-1965 was in the hands of Catholic priests:

 

There was a thing about hair being cut straight - straight backs - you weren't allowed them. A few of us, who were getting into that rebellious age, got them. During the day we were all picked out one by one and taken up to the Discipline Master, who was waiting was in the place where [the priests] used to live. I remember going up the tower, knock, knock, and into a dark room. And there he was with a chair in the middle, ready with all his hair cutting material and he cut my hair. I didn't have long hair, it was just a straight back. As you can imagine he did a rough job and I just felt terrible after it.

 

The post-World War Two years saw some relaxation in the official silences concerning bodily matters. Although the sexual double standard remained firmly in place, there were the beginnings of a speaking out and an increasing acceptance of the visibility of (married) women's reproductive sexuality - pregnancy and lactation. The splitting off of mind from body in the official rationalist discourses of education, and the attempts to force bodies into a normalising image which denied the individual's rights to the kinds of freedom of expression which liberal/progressive discourse encouraged were beginning to be undermined. This contradiction was formative of critiques by some of those who were teaching and those who would become teachers at a later time.

 

Neo-Progressivism: The mid-1960s to the late 1980s.

During the 1960s many of the post-World War Two baby boom generation - students whose parents may not have had access to higher, or even secondary, education, were moving to the cities and studying in tertiary institutions. The sense of marginality many of us who were such students felt in academic environments - as female and/or Maori, and/or working-class etc - together with the sense of possibilities afforded us by the economic prosperity of the time fuelled radical critiques of education and wider social protests. The hippy movement, the student revolts, anti-Vietnam War protests, anti-Apartheid demonstrations, and the beginnings of second-wave feminism all had their repercussions on school students and teachers. In the late 1960s, secondary schools were faced with increasingly diverse populations of students as a result of the urbanisation of Maori and the immigration of Pacific Islanders. Teachers - as individuals, within their schools and professional organisations - struggled to come to terms with how best to teach in schools with such diverse student populations.

 

One retired principal of a metropolitan girls' high school described the visual changes in the school as viewed from the stage at morning assembly:

 

By 1970 it was a different school. You could stand on the stage and you could look at the school. The hair colour was different. Whereas it had been sort of light brown, the occasional blonde, and the occasional red head, it was a much darker mix with the Chinese and the Indian and the Greek, and the Pacific Islanders coming in. And at the same time as we were realising that our school was changing we were looking at major changes in educational direction, and I'm really always heartened that it was teachers that took the plunge. Because Education in Change was a key-note document, I think.

 

The document she mentioned, Education in Change., was published in 1969 by the New Zealand Post Primary Teachers' Association. Its recommendations were in tune with the 'neo-Progressive' thinking which was being disseminated and taken up by the more liberal secondary teachers - particularly in English and Social Studies. By the early 1970s, the multinational publishing companies were producing moderately priced and readable handbooks written by teachers for teachers about how to tailor a programme to the individual 'interests' of students (e.g. Kohl, 1969; Postman and Weingartner, 1971; Holt, 1974). Education in Change encapsulated some of the thinking in these in the following definition: "education forms a major part in the process of individual and social growth and should be self-motivating because its rewards are inherent. This report is directed towards the development of a concept of self-motivated learning" (p xiv). It lists "human qualities which education should be concerned to promote at all times. The highest value is placed on: the urge to enquire; concern for others; the desire for self-respect" (NZPPTA, 1969,p 1). By the early 1970s, the Department of Education was introducing new syllabi in which the post-war discourse of 'equality as sameness' gave way to one of education for diversity - cultural pluralism and student choice within the system and some support for the creation of 'educational alternatives'.

 

In the more liberal/progressive schools, these ideas generated major upheavals in the ways they were structured and this brought about changes in teaching practice. Up till this time what had counted as academic had rested on the cognitive styles, habitus and interests of the white professional and managerial elite. Since the development of psychology as a discipline in the 1930s, the allocation of students to courses and streams had been done largely on the basis of their scores on intelligence tests. As a means of ensuring justice and equality of opportunity, these had been believed to be scientific and therefore as appropriately objective measures of innate potential (Olssen, 1988). The Social Darwinism of the 1920s and 1930s had left unquestioned the resulting relegation of Maori and working-class Pakeha to the manual streams - a stratification that became increasingly obvious as the processes of urbanisation brought about the influx of 'brown' students into the predominantly 'white' secondary schools and universities (Jones, 1991). Conceptualising cultural difference as valuable diversity rather than deviance or inferiority, the discourse of pluralism provoked some schools to 'destream' during the 1970s. This breakdown in the barriers between students who took different courses (academic, homecraft, commercial, agricultural, or industrial) resulted in co-educational classes of mixed ability and mixed race. It therefore altered previous patterns of the differential distributions of groups of students in school space. Teaching in non-streamed classes made whole-class instruction difficult and forced secondary teachers to develop the kinds of individualised and small-group teaching methods which up till this time had been characteristic only of primary schools.

 

From the point of view of the 'discipline of the body' it would seem that Progressivism - which rests on assumptions of freedom of choice, intrinsic motivation, and self-discipline - is in direct opposition to some traditional school regulatory practices with respect, for example, to students' dress, that we have seen so far in this paper. However, as Valerie Walkerdine has argued (1984; 1987; 1992; Walkerdine and Lucey, 1989), what happens is that the processes of discipline, regulation and normalisation become more covert: "the child supposedly freed by this process to develop according to its nature was the most classified, catalogued, watched and monitored in history. Freed from coercion, the child was much more subtly regulated into normality" (Walkerdine, 1992, p 18). Within a Progressivist school environment, she argues, "Discipline became not overt disciplining, but covert watching...[as] the classroom became the facilitating space for each individual under the watchful and total gaze of the teacher" (ibid, p 19). Writing about child-centred learning in primary schools, Walkerdine noted that the freedom of children meant less space for the teacher, who becames "the servant of the omnipotent child, whose needs she must meet at all times" (ibid, p 21).

 

In accordance with this shift, new social technologies for regulating the population without physical coercion were becoming freely available to teachers (Walkerdine, 1984). Behaviourist psychology with its techniques of positive reinforcement was being taught in teachers' colleges and universities. The new psychological and sociological discourses positioned 'problem' students not so much as naughty but as having behavioural difficulties which were often the result of social pathology. Accordingly, many schools created senior staffing positions which were devoted to the welfare of the students and their families. Eric Cotton (b1939) described the burn-out he experienced as a Dean in 1971 at a new co-educational school with a high population of working-class immigrant Pacific Island students and a Senior Mistress who had failed to win the confidence of Samoan girls:

 

I was a Dean and that was a huge job there, if you wanted to make it that way. I would spend day after day looking for girls around the town. They could be in any situation and anywhere, and I saw the rougher side of life that I didn't even think existed. I got on really well with girls - basically because the woman who was a senior mistress found it difficult and was confrontational with them all the time. I would be in my classroom, and there'd be a knock on the door and there'd be one of the girls there saying, "We need to see you for a moment." And no one knew about it. So I'd leave some work for the class and say, "What's your problem?" Mainly Samoan girls, who were getting a really hard time at home. They'd say, "We've got this problem." "Where abouts are you? How many of you?" They'd usually have gone into the girls' toilet.

 

This welfare, or social work, model became dominant in the official discourses about discipline in schools during this period and will be taken up again in the section on the Post-Picot (post-1987) era. In the remainder of this discussion on the period from the late 1960s to the late 1980s, I shall develop further the two themes introduced in the previous section on the post-War years: the regulation of clothing and discourses concerning the handling of sexual/ bodily matters in the curriculum.

 

The neo-Progressive schools were characterised by increasing informality in the relationship between students and teachers. Individualised and group teaching methods encouraged movement in classroom by students and teachers. Seeking bodily comfort, freedom of movement and informality, some of us who were teaching struggled to loosen the rigidities of our schools' requirements with respect to the way we dressed. I had male colleagues who refused to wear ties, grew their hair and side-burns and wore jeans. We younger women found that our miniskirts conflicted with the freedom of movement required in the classroom - as Rona Gregg (b1948) explained: "In those days you had mini-skirts and when you lifted your hand up to write on the blackboard, it wasn't a particularly good thing to be doing!" The revealing tendencies of the mini-skirts of the early 1970s no doubt, at least in part, influenced the acceptance at this time of trousers as appropriate work clothes for us. The influx of the young and fashionable to classroom teaching in the 1970s exacerbated classroom management dilemmas for one of my interviewees whose embodied sexuality did not match students' ideals. Audrey Hall (b1928) had always taught in girls' schools before taking on a position at the age of 49 in a coeducational school in a conservative suburb:

 

I found boys very lazy as students. A lot of them never settled down and did a decent period of work, or their homework. I was older by then. A younger teacher can get a rapport with students, almost a hero worship. They see you as a role model and notice what you're wearing, and comment on it, too - quite a different sort of relationship. But coming in as a middle-aged woman to boys' classes you really had to be very bossy and authoritarian . A feeling of "We're all in this together, let's get to work" didn't seem to work. I like a relaxed way of teaching, but I found that at that school I had to be very authoritarian.

 

The publication in New Zealand of an English translation of the Danish-authored Little Red Schoolbook (Hansen and Jensen, 1972) brought the language of Liberation from the social protest movements into the context of schools. In a climate in which students' rights were seen as important, some of them challenged inconsistencies between the stance of 'freedom of expression' which was offered to them by the Liberal/Progressive or protest movement discourses and their positioning as passive recipients of teachers' normalising practices. While some liberal schools relaxed uniform and hair regulations, conservative ones maintained them, even in the face of student protest. Robert Williams (b1939) describes one example in a co-educational school: "The Little Red Schoolbook came out - ideas about pupil power and this sort of stuff. But it died a natural death fairly quickly. I can remember when the Beatles came out, we had all the fuss about long hair." However, at his next school (a boys' school), the struggle had become more confrontational:

 

[The former Principal] had had the school absolutely screwed down tight, and the new Principal was faced with mutiny from the boys - sit ins on the school field over caps. He abolished caps, and the Board of Governors thought that that was the end of the world. [The sit-ins were about] wearing caps, and long hair and all that stuff. It was the time of the Little Red School Book, a time of great ferment. Student power.

 

The refusal of some schools to relax their uniform requirements trivialised them as educational institutions for some of their more questioning students. For example, Nell Wilson (b1955) had attended an urban co-educational school in the years 1968-1971 and had resisted the minutiae of the school's attempt to normalise every inch of her bodily adornment:

 

The uniform was a grey skirt and a white blouse. So I made a tie-dye grey skirt which didn't go down well at all. I was constantly called into the Senior Mistress's office and given lectures... I chose to ignore all of that. All of these things had nothing to do with what went on in the classroom, but they were all of the things that were actually important as an adolescent, I think. And as a fourth former I had quite long hair, and so I used to wear it in all different kinds of ways. And I remember distinctly; this is one of those things that you never forget, - we had a 'gals' assembly and Mrs Owens (who was the dragon) walked up and down the aisles and picked out girls who had to go on stage for having inappropriate hairstyles. That included me who on this particular day had these pigtails just above my ears - my hair was really long, so it kind of looked like Pippi Longstocking pan handles... I think as a result of things like that, I was so sick of the place that I didn't do a seventh form year.

 

Some schools at this time abolished uniform. While for many, this may have signalled an increase in personal freedom, for others - especially those whose families were unable to provide them with good clothing - it was a source of constraint and discomfort. Rangi Davidson (b1956), who had himself attended a private Maori boys' boarding school, had regarded his own school's uniform as important in helping him to develop a sense of self-worth:

 

I'm basically a traditionalist and a disciplinarian... I like to wear a tie for school. I believe in the importance of a uniform for self-esteem and all that sort of thing. The uniform gives you a sense of belonging to something and if it's a nice uniform it makes you feel good. The same as dressing. If you dress well, you feel good. If you don't dress well, you don't feel so good.

 

In the late 1980s, Rangi had taken a teaching position in the Maori bilingual unit of a large coeducational school which had abolished uniforms. The school had a high proportion of students from homes in which parents and care givers were on low incomes or unemployed and the students he taught were mainly from such backgrounds. Concerned about the self-image of the students in the bilingual unit, Rangi introduced a special travelling uniform for them:

 

I enjoyed working in a big school. Over 1,000 kids. Co-ed, my first co-ed school. Non-uniform. A few things there that were really new to me... After a while it didn't worry me the uniform - essentially I am a traditionalist. I really believe in that. But what I tried to do to get around it was, I introduced uniforms. The bi-lingual kids had a travelling uniform. Essentially I was just worried about the bi-lingual kids, I wasn't worried about the rest of the school. And when the kids travelled they looked nice and they felt good about themselves.

 

The freedom of students from affluent families to choose their own dress was at the expense of those less well-off - it had accentuated the signs of their poverty.

 

Not only did student-centredness influence the regulation of bodily adornment, but it also gave form to new discourses about the ways the physical body itself could be spoken about in schools. During the 1970s, the spirit of neo-progressivism - centered as it was on humanist psychological concepts of personal growth - had extended into the question of sexuality education. No longer conceptualised in terms of introducing students to the 'biological facts' alone, sexuality education was conceptualised as part of a broader education in human development and relationships, values, and health. These ideas were developed in the context of the 'second wave' of feminism (Department of Education, 1975) and reports of the time implied, even if they did not always say so directly, that capacities for sexual arousal and expression were equally distributed between women and men. Emotions and desires were no longer 'missing' (Fine, 1988) from the discourse. During the time of the post-pill 'sexual revolution' 'speaking about' sex in the mass media became increasingly tolerated. Commercial publishers marketed sexual information for teenagers (which included information about sexual desire, masturbation, contraception and abortion among other things). This created new, easily accessible, conduits for teenagers themselves to access information without mediation or moralising by adults (e.g. Hansen and Jensen, 1972; Tuohy and Murphy, 1976). The question of sexuality education became the object of intense media speculations, meetings by concerned parents, and staffroom discussions. Several major govenment reports on secondary education were produced within this context and the language used in these shows the influence of these wider community debates and concerns (Department of Education, 1976, 1977).

 

The 'Johnson Report' expressed some of the more open sexual attitudes of the time as follows:

 

No students should leave school without facing up to the real implications of personal relationships, and the consequences to their own personality development if they fail to do this. We want students to realise that sexuality involves self-discipline and involves loving and caring for another person - not the mere seeking of self-release. It is the basis of a lasting relationship; it is a most powerful emotional drive and has a great capacity for bringing happiness and giving meaning to life. It is not confined to the younger years but grows with understanding and maturity. It can be a spiritual force (Committee on Health and Social Education, 1976, p38).

 

On the basis of their knowledge that teenagers always have been, and always will be, sexually active, the Johnson Committee's focus was upon urging them to confine such activities to 'caring relationships.' However, because they had not said that teenagers should be instructed that sex belongs only in marriage, the message was too permissive for many and caused a public outcry. Upon the appointment of a conservative Minister of Education by the National Government in the early 1980s, the 'moral right' pressure groups were able to play a major part in ensuring that the Johnson Report was never implemented (Ryan, 1988). However, its language had encapsulated the ethos which underpinned the many (and often co-educational) 'human relationships' programmes which were introduced into secondary schools during the 1970s and 1980s (Department of Education, 1977) and which have continued to be in place in many secondary schools up to the present day.

 

 

The 'Post-Picot' Years: 1987 - 1995.

1984 (the year of the election of New Zealand's Fourth Labour Government) is commonly regarded as signalling the beginnings of the present 'phase' in educational thought. Following recommendations in the 'Picot Report' (Task force to Review Educational Administration, 1987), policy-makers devolved responsibility for many educational decisions from central government authorities to Boards of Trustees, composed of parents, staff, and (in secondary schools only) student representatives. Labour's policies embodied contradictions between the atomised individualism of a free market economic vision and a centralised 'socialist' conceptualisation of equity. While Labour's 'New Right' economic vision conceptualised the population as atomised, competitive, acquisitive individuals, their equity policies viewed New Zealand society as composed primarily of groups. These policies were based on the idea that certain groups, through no fault of their own, had been educationally disadvantaged, and were therefore owed compensation. Within this discourse, schools were conceptualised as sites for effecting compensatory justice (Middleton, 1992a; 1992b).

 

The powers and responsibilities of each Board of Trustees were listed in school charters, which contained details of the school's broad objectives and specific goals. Some of these, including the equity objectives, were required to be included by Government and were to be 'non-negotiable'. Schools' successes and failures in meeting their stated goals - including the equity objectives -were to be monitored by the Educational Review Office (ERO). The processes of an ERO inspection and the resulting written report fits Foucault's description of 'the examination' as a mode of regulation in modern society:

 

The examination that places individuals in a field of surveillance also situates them in a network of writing; it engages them in a whole mass of documents that capture and fix them. The procedure of examination [are] accompanied... by a system of intense registration and of documentary accumulation. A 'power of writing' [is] constituted as an essential part in the mechanisms of discipline (Foucault, 1977, p189).

 

In spite of a 'de-emphasis' on equity issues since the National Government assumed office in 1990, schools are still required by law to assume responsibility for promoting 'equitable educational outcomes' for both sexes. With respect to 'gender equity', schools still have the mandate to develop equal opportunities objectives; to provide non-sexist role-models for students; to develop non-sexist curricula; to have an equal employment opportunity policy, and to create a school which is free of sexual harassment. Empirical studies (e.g. Kenway et al, 1993) have yet to be carried out in New Zealand on the ways the policy-makers' conceptualisations of 'equity policies' are transformed in specific institutions into micropractices of power. I conclude this paper with some teachers' comments on some of the ways in which their bodies, and those of their students, are inscribed in the micropractices of today's schools. I shall draw together, in the present-day context, all of the themes which have been addressed in my discussions of previous eras: students' and teachers' dress; ways of speaking about sexual matters; the differential distribution of sexed/gendered bodies in space; and technologies for the regulation of students' behaviour.

 

Despite a deregulated climate with respect to formal dress-codes for teachers, many of those I interviewed described ways in which what they wore to school was influenced by the normalising gazes of their school communities, other teachers, and their students. The new devolved administrative structures have made schools more 'porous' than they used to be in absorbing the expectations and values of their communities. This can influence how teachers dress. Maureen McWilliam (b1973) began her teaching career in the mid-1990s in an Intermediate school whose parents were predominantly from business and professional occupations. She described how the ethos of the business and professional world was inscribing itself on the bodies of the teachers:

 

This Intermediate is very much control orientated. Everything is orientated towards the child, but it's very much in terms of streaming the child into opportunities. Right down to the clothes, even to the colours used in the clothing. It's very bold, black, white. The staff were very much into power dressing and I found it really scary.

 

Other women said that the 'sexualising gaze' of male students influenced how they dressed for work. For some this required concealment of the body. For example, Julie King (b1969) was careful not to appear 'provocative' to her mainly Pacific Island students: "I deliberately don't wear tight clothes. I'm very conscious about what I'm wearing. I wear quite baggy clothes, or if I have a tight top on I wear a big loose shirt over it. I don't want to be ogled at by teenage boys, basically. That's quite a conscious decision that I have made." Her modest mode of dressing for school was a form of self-defence. It was a way of minimising the extent to which she would be positioned as an object of sexual desire - spoken about, fantasised about, or harassed - by boy students.

 

The acceptability of public 'speaking out' about sexuality (as discussed in the previous section) with respect to the 1970s sexual revolution had generated the commercial mass production of pornography - the rendering visible of male sexual fantasies in the public sphere. By the 1980s, boys could easily (if illegally) access such materials (Middleton, 1994). Nell Wilson (b1955), a teacher in a boys' school, found herself positioned as 'object of the pornographic gaze' by an unknown student who had inserted

 

bits of pornographic material in my roll. The next thing was some women's underwear outside the classroom. The worst thing was two sheets of fairly graphic photographs of a woman baring all with a kid's writing all over it - he wrote me a kind of a love note that was quite obscene and shoved that in my classroom door. It was addressed to me.

 

Explicitly sexual images and language could be used by boys to exert power over women teachers. It could also be used to denigrate the bodies, and thereby to reject the ideas, of other women who entered their educational horizons, such as female poets or women characters in books. Nell Wilson had showed her sixth form boys a BBC videotape which had been screened in this country on the Fraser show. This had raised the problem of the widening gap between English boys' and girls' achievements in school - how girls are achieving more highly than boys. My reading of the boys' response is that they used homophobia to denigrate the bodies of the women in the video as a defence against their insecurities in the face of a threatened undermining of the boundaries of their binary construction of acceptable masculinity and acceptable femininity:

 

I had taped the Fraser programme in which he had a panel discussion about why girls do better at school. I thought my sixth form would be really interested in this because this is about kids their age and things they're going to have to face. And their reaction was really weird. As soon as I put it on, all they did was spend time trying to undermine the women on the programme - saying, "she's got to be a lesbian, look at her, look at the clothes she's wearing! That person looks sick - they're feminists." They would not believe that I was showing it to them because I thought they might be interested in the consequences for them, if it was true. I hadn't expected that reaction at all. And yet I shouldn't have been surprised at all - the current term of abuse at Boys' High is to call each other 'gay'.

 

The removal of the secrecy surrounding sexuality and the freeing up of speech made it possible for students to use sexual terminology quite legitimately in the classroom. While in previous eras homosexuality could never have been raised in the classroom, there are today legitimate spaces in the curriculum for the discussion of such issues - not only in sexuality education itself, but also in 'mainstream' subjects, such as English, since many great writers have been lesbian or gay (Sears, 1992). The creation of legitimate spaces, however, can also offer students a new tool of resistance. Their use of the term 'lesbian' (no longer a banned concept) as a term of abuse offered them a defence against 'dangerous knowledge' that could have undermined the securities of the patriarchal gender order they sought to preserve. Another example came from Veronica Neilson (b 1969), who was also teaching in a boys' school. She described how students used homophobic language in an attempt to regulate her appearance:

 

Last year I had my hair cut really short like Anita McNaught's [a TV presenter], and one of the boys came up to me and said "Miss, you shouldn't have your hair cut like that because people are going to think you're a lesbian." And I said "Oh, do you really think so?" And they said "Yeah!" I said "Oh well, if the shoe fits." I never tell them whether I am or whether I'm not.

 

This suggestion of homophobia as a grounds for the policing of teachers' dress is a theme which recurs throughout my data on the post-Picot years. As Jennifer Gore and Carmen Luke have argued "Women's sexualities - in their manifestation in dress, appearance/appeal, 'looks', age, bodily habitus - continue to be read by many men as signposts of women's worth" ( Luke and Gore, 1993, p 201).

 

This so-called 'male gaze' can also be assumed by women in an attempt to regulate the compliance of 'other' women to the norms of conventional femininity. Susan Godfrey (b1968) had attended a teacher education programme in the early 1990s. She was older than most of her classmates, had lived an 'alternative life-style', was living with her baby and the child's father in a nuclear family situation, but had rejected the frills of feminine adornment: "My classmates were shying away from me because I had hairy legs and hairy armpits and short hair." Further examples of women applying such pressure were offered by Veronica Neilson, who commented that "women who don't have that [feminist] background are really trying to be something. We've got teachers at school who try to be bimbos and it's embarrassing." In a small-town co-educational school, Veronica's feminism had been challenged by boy students' mothers. She described such a challenge as resulting from one of her poetry lessons:

 

There was one poem that talked about women's bodies being made to conform and I was talking to the boys about what we see as beautiful and what we don't. And I had this very beautiful farmer's wife come in and ask me what I was trying to do - was I trying to make her son marry someone ugly or something? Another poem was about "the weight of the wedding band on Jennifer's hands." Talking about how men have often oppressed women. And I got back-lash again.

 

While formal rules for teachers' dress have been relaxed, these women found themselves subjected to strong informal pressures - from students, from colleagues, and from parents - to conform to a conventional image of femininity which would leave a patriarchal, dualistic, gender order intact.

 

With respect to the regulation of students' dress, I have little data concerning the present day. Most secondary schools have retained uniforms for at least the junior school although students now have considerable flexibility within the uniform requirements (for example, in the girls' school attanded my my daughter, girls may make their own summer dresses in any modest style from the regulation fabric). Most schools do not require uniform for their senior students. Some of those interviewed had used their students' fascination with dress as curriculum material. Dress offered Julie King (b1969) a space to engage with her Pacific Islands students about feminist issues by meeting them on their own cultural ground. Discovering the influence of American music videos on the dress of her Pacific Island students, she made these a topic for feminist analysis in her English curriculum:

 

On teaching practice [from College] I taught from music videos because I suddenly realised that the way the students were dressing - their hairstyles, the way they spoke, everything - was coming from the music videos in American films. They all wanted to be gangstas. I stopped the video every 10 seconds and we analysed what kind of image it was - whether it was a male image, a female one, a dance one or whatever - and the boys seemed totally oblivious to the fact that they were predominantly male images that we were seeing... When I started my first job in this school, which has got no uniform, the kids were actually wearing the stuff and their hairstyles were from music videos and the way they talked with their body with all this rap gangsta kind of stuff.

 

The covert regulation of students' dress in those schools which have abolished uniforms would make a fruitful field of future inquiry. Such schools retain the powers to monitor and regulate students' clothing by means of a dress code. For example, one such school's present dress code reads:

 

In keeping with this school's emphasis on self-management, there are no uniform regulations. The development of sensible attitudes towards matters of dress and appearance is seen as part of the educational process and students are asked to avoid extravagance of style or appearance... In any question of acceptability of dress the school's decision will be final.

 

In practice, such dress codes can result in a covert normalising process whereby those whose adolescent struggles manifest themselves in "extravagance of style" (Punks and avant garde youth) are excluded or expelled from the school. 'Sensible' means 'average'. While in previous eras, teachers;' and students' dress was more overtly regulated through formal dress-codes and uniforms, the mid-1990s are characterised by more informal micropractices of power which inscribe on the bodies of teachers and students the prejudices of the wider society.

 

Are there still questions about the gendering/sexualising of school space? My data suggest that there are. I shall mention two - some questions concerning co-education, and issues concerning boys' resistances to classroom activities. Many of the older men who were interviewed had themselves attended all-boys' schools and, although some of them had taught in such single-sex institutions, said that the all-male cultures of these needed 'softening' through the presence of women teachers and girl pupils. Such views were concisely summarised by George Reed (b1926):

 

I didn't like caning. I didn't like bullying. I didn't like boys on their own, I thought they needed some girls to sort of soften the edges. I enjoyed the company of men. I enjoyed the staff room in single sex schools, and yet I also enjoyed the staff room at co-educational.

 

David Don (b1932) had taught long-term in a boys' school and had worked hard at convincing the Principal that, although he "couldn't get girls in the senior school", he had succeeded in convincing him "that women could contribute a great deal to the school. They have been on the staff ever since and some of the women colleagues that I taught with were superb. They would lend a different aspect to things. Yet they got a lot of resistance from some people." This enthusiasm for having women staff in boys' schools was widespread among many of the men who had worked in such schools.

 

Many of the women said that they enjoyed teaching boys in co-educational or in single-sex environments. However, as exemplified previously, some of them felt uncomfortable under the 'sexualising' gaze of male adolescents and had experienced harassment of various sorts. Others had experienced discrimination in terms of employment advancement opportunities. To help them to deal with such experiences, a number of the women had become involved in the organisation of women teachers' groups in boys' schools or in coeducational settings. Sometimes this was regarded with suspicion, even hostility, by male colleagues. For example, Sian Murray (b1963) had become the Women's Officer for her branch of the NZPPTA in a coeducational school in a conservative region of New Zealand:

 

I had to organise women's meetings which was really good for all the staff. We used to have a lot of women's dinners. The men didn't like that, but we still had them anyway. And then the Regional Women's Officer used to come down and have seminars and so I would organise those. The chairperson at that time was a female, so she was really supportive.

 

During the 1980s a number of state and private boys' schools had opened their door to senior girls from other schools (Rout, 1992). This had had the effect of 'creaming off' some of the more able girls from the senior classes in the neighbouring girls' schools. Eric Cotton (b1939) was the Principal of a boys' school, which, together with the local girls' school, had set up a senior college which involved his seventh form boys going to the nearby girls' school for some subjects and the seventh form girls coming to his school for others. He was aware that his well-resourced school had better facilities than those at the girls' school:

 

[When I started working at a boys' school] I missed the girls, because they do soften the place. But they love coming here because it's nicer than their place to be in; and they really appreciate that. And I think it's ideal. I don't think I would have been happy staying on here with just boys. No, I like girls.

 

In his interview, he have a thoughtful analysis on the relative benefits of single-sex and co-education for boys and for girls at different stages of their adolescent development. He believed that girls were more powerful than boys in early adolescence and that the self-esteem of boys was best nurtured in these 'junior' years in single-sex settings. For example, some girls used their superior verbal skills to 'put down' boys in a way which was damaging to their self-esteem when they were in the early stages of adolescence and less mature physically, intellectually and emotionally than the girls:

 

I'm convinced that boys do well at third, fourth and fifth Form in single-sex boys' schools. The girls aren't there to put them down. Put-downs are the worst things that happen at schools - that's the type of bullying when there's the name-calling, not the physical stuff. Girls are better motivated at 13, 14, 15 , they're neater, they're tidier, they're more aware of what they need to do. And the boys are ugly. They become semi-ugly at about 15 or 16, and then they become human. And girls at 13 or 14, if they're powerful are looking at guys 15 or 16; they are looking at the guys who are decent, they're not looking at these guys who are the same age. They're ahead of them. They know more about themselves, and about the boys than the boys know about them. They think a lot more. They talk a lot more. The boys are out there doing things, and yelling and screaming and swearing and things. And so, what I've noticed here [at a boys' school] is that they work a lot harder. And you can really crank into them, because boys are pretty simple creatures. It's not running them down, but you know, you can say it simply to a boy and he'll probably accept it. Whereas with girls, they'll want to argue the finer details because they're more intelligent or more aware at a younger age of themselves. But I think [single sex schooling] is ludicrous at 16 or 17 when the boys have caught up and the girls are good too. No-one talks about senior kids in disparaging terms, they always worry about the 13, 14, 15 year olds; that's where the problems are.

 

Another example of boys being damaged by verbal put-downs was given by Rangi Davidson (b1956), who was concerned that so many Maori boys rejected intellectual work as being the province of 'nerds' and therefore as being 'unmanly'. He did not say whether it was girls or other boys who were applying the 'nerd' label to the working-class Maori boys he taught who were succeeding academically, but explained that girls did not experience the same pressures because academic success was more acceptable in their peer group culture:

 

Girls are better learners. They work harder. They get on with the job. But when they have a bad day, wow watch out! Whereas boys tend to be more aloof, tough boy images come through a lot. They don't show their emotions as much which is the tough boy image again. But they don't work as well as girls. They are frightened to show that they work hard. It's a lot to do with peer pressure. I know the intelligent Maori boys at our school [in an small town with a high Maori population] they get the nerd label or whatever you want to call it.

 

While Rangi cast this resistance as being a characteristic of working-class Maori boys, Nell Wilson (b1955) had had similar difficulties in her English class in a boys' school with a predominantly Pakeha and largely middle-class student population. As a student-centred teacher, she wanted her students to work in groups, to initiate inquiries, and to engage in debates on controversial issues. She wanted a classroom with flexible use of space, freedom of movement, and interaction between students as a basis for learning. Instead, she found that, accustomed to a static environment - formal and exam-oriented - the boys resisted her pedagogic style by demanding that they sit still while she fed them notes:

 

It was a real struggle there. I just couldn't believe how it was. All the boys wanted was "Look, if you give us the notes, we'll have the right answers." That's all they were interested in. They didn't want to talk about anything, they just wanted the right answers....The boys have been just so resistant to getting out of their chairs for one thing, and talking to each other, for another and actually sharing information. They seem like they don't want to do that at all. So I don't know whether it's a boys' thing or just a Boys' High thing.

 

It seems that it is the ethos of a particular community of students as structured by the traditions and micropractices of a particular school over time - whether single-sex or co-educational - that creates the climate of the classrooms in which the constraints and possibilities for teachers' pedagogies are constructed.

 

I conclude with a brief discussion of the normalisation of students' behaviour in the late 1990s. The example I have chosen comes from a boys' school. Since the abolition of corporal punishment, non-violent forms of discipline have been required. By the late 1980s, pre-packaged systems for behaviour management were being disseminated and marketed to the Boards of Trustees, who now have the powers to buy in such packages. Often of American origin, these packages are often based on the humanistic and behavioural psychologies. Assertive Discipline programmes (based on behaviourist premises) have been marketed to schools by the SES (Special Education Services) and some of the younger teachers I interviewed spoke favourably of the sense of structure these provided them with. As an alternative to corporal punishment, some schools have introduced Peer Support. While the older regimes of discipline rested on students' fear of overt methods of punishment, these contemporary ones rely on the teachers' and students' pan-optic gaze.

 

The Peer Support system is a superb thing. We've got 50 kids this year who are Sixth Formers who have volunteered to work with our Third Formers next year. They were all here on the New Entrants Day last week when we had all the next year's Third Formers here. They were showing them what to do. Working with them. In the exams and the tests with them. All this sort of thing, so you're taking a vertical system and levelling it out a fair bit. Working with the Prefects to make sure that there's no nastiness, nothing that's at all awkward....What we've done here is to set up a climate in the school where we've got an agreement with the kids that certain things won't happen. When you go round the school you see in every classroom the class climate. We stress 'Three C's: Courtesy, Cooperation, Common sense, keeping things very very simple. No yelling and screaming at people; no thumping them. We've got rid of teachers who are physical. We get a lot of little boys around the school who are safe. I keep asking them. I ask people to ask them. I show a lot of people around the school while it's working... And every time I do that I find that it's good. No organised fights. There used to be organised fights every year. It's been very important to us to make sure that the kids are feeling good at the place.

 

While removing the physical violence, the spectacle, and the fear associated with corporal punishment, the covert modes of regulation of behaviour retain certain features which were identified by Foucault as characteristic of the capillary workings of modern power. Although elaborate systems of surveillance are not new in schools, what is new is the reliance on students of the same age to monitor the behaviour of their peers. As in the case of prefects administering punishment on behalf of teachers (by the rod or by confinements such as detention), Peer support rests on the recruitment of students as 'agents' for the teachers.

 

This research has focussed 'from the bottom up' on the normalising practices which are, of necessity, at the heart of the job of teaching: "the supervision of the smallest fragment of life, or of the body" (Foucault, 1977, p 140). The life-history methodology adopted has focussed not just on the grand theories of the policy-makers but on institutional practices in classrooms, playgrounds and staffrooms. As Michelle Barrett (1991, p135) has pointed out, research which is "predicated upon favouring practice over theory" can help us to understand the discourses of schooling , not as the mere disembodied abstractions of rationalist policy-documents, but as always/already located in, and structured by the processes of our own embodied experiences and perspectives in the "organised and organising practices" in schools.

 

Epilogue.

In the early 1980s I was researching the experiences and perspectives of my own generation of feminist teachers. Speaking of her life as a university student during the early years of the sexual revolution of the mid-1960s, one of my interviewees said

 

I remember putting a hell of a lot more energy into my sex life and my emotional life than I ever did into my work and really university was just a backdrop against which the dramas of my sex life were played out. All sorts of things that were anathema to my parents were played out.

 

Over sixteen years of university teaching I have watched my students struggling with the same conflict between the rationalism of the academic and their embodied sexuality. In the early 1990s I decided that one way to help my students understand this contradiction was to make it into an object of analysis in my university's teacher education and women's studies curricula. Accordingly I designed a level 200 undergraduate course entitled 'Education and Sexuality,' which has attracted high student enrolments from the Schools of Education and Social Sciences since its beginnings in 1993. In the word of Erica McWillam (1995, p134), my "overwhelming concern" in this course is "helping my students to understand the power relations in which teachers work without being defeated by them."

 

The historical analysis which I have developed in this paper is an empirical 'fleshing out' of the framework I have used in my lectures in the 'history of sexuality' section of the course, which had previously rested mainly on my readings of the ideas of the policy-makers. As researchers on, and as teachers and students of, the official discourses and embodied experiences of 'educating sexuality,' we can make use of the perspectives added by means of such life-history data to position ourselves within the educational, historical, political, discursive, institutional, and other social phenomena which give form to our sexualities.

 


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