Friday, January 06, 2006

Docile bodies


I am in Popular Literacies, Childhood and Schooling with a chapter on digital writing. I was flattered to be quoted by Jackie earlier in the volume – she refers to my Foucauldian reading of the National Literacy Strategy. Although I say it myself, it was one of my better ideas: I wish I’d pursued it further…

For instance, in considering the materiality of writing, I have often thought and sometimes written about the discipline of the body that accompanies (or might accompany) writing instruction. Those particular physical routines associated with book and pen that are emphasized in current literacy teaching as well as the more arcane bodily disciplines of schooled literacy practices would be a good focus for analysis.

Foucault, as usual, paves the way when he writes: “A well-disciplined body forms the operational context of the slightest gesture. Good handwriting, for example, presupposes a gymnastics – a whole routine whose rigorous code invests the body in its entirety, from the points of the feet to the tip of the index finger.” Discipline and Punish: 152. Well, of course it’s not quite like that in the Strategy, but one does require children to sit, stand, move, grasp, turn and articulate in certain ways.

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