The Paranoid Curriculum
(This schema was developed during a Master's course I taught when a Visiting Professor at McMaster University, Canada - it has been developed in Schostak 2000)
This outline develops a schema for a particular kind of curriculum, a particular kind of learning relationship, generated between a dominant individual/group (Pd read as dominant person) and an Other, a subordinate or inferior individual or group (Os read as subordinate other).
It starts from the assumption that we are born into worlds, the shape of which, the scenery of which, the elements of which must be formed into relationships, perspectives, ways of seeing through the process of learning a language/culture. The mirror has long been used as a metaphor of this process. Mead and Cooley in the 1930s both talked of the self being formed through the ways the other responds to the self. Cooley talked in particular of the looking glass self. Lacan talked of the mirror stage of child development. At around 7-18 months old, the visual acuity of the child develops faster than the ability to coordinate the limbs of the body. Looking into a mirror somehow fixes and gives shape to the body which is at odds with the sense of inner incoherence, or clumsiness from not being able to control the bodily movements and sensations. Similarly, as the child develops, language and culture provide a means of 'fixing' or giving shape to all the unknowns, the uncertainties, the flux of life. Cultural products provide mirrors, selves are fixed by the self's own gaze into the mirror.
The following schema is constructed with these ideas in mind and in particular with the case of Judge Schreber in mind:
Pd has a conceptual framework which defines Os in terms of
3. potential for becoming/growth
4. use and value
5. social position and function
Simultaneously, Pd's framework defines how Pd should behave towards Os to realise goals and intentions (this is applied in terms of a specific Regimen).
Pd applies a Regimen (R) on Os. The principles and procedures which define R are directed towards a systematic control of:
1. Os's beliefs about Pd's intentions and knowledge
2. Os's conduct and behaviour
3. Os's presentation of Self in terms of such dimensions as posture, speech, dress
4. Os's interpretations of bodily experiences, awareness of bodily experiences and formation of body-image
5. Os's beliefs concerning the extent to which Pd knows/sees into Os
6. Os's knowledge of Self and World
7. Os's experience of Self and formation of self identity (where identity is a function of the Other)
In addition, records and reports about Os are made and continually reported. Some are a) behind the scenes, and some are b) as a continual reminder to Os.
In relationship to these experiences, where Os is not privy to Pd's framework, nor to the goals and values, Os's options are:
1. complete Faith in Pd
2. an attitude which leads to the continual search for
3. signs upon which to found interpretations of Pd's behaviour in order to inform own reactions in terms of either
4. choose to take recourse to counter discourses which either:
I. have no access to Pd discourses
II. or, have covert access to Pd discourses
III. or, members have been but are no longer Pd's
5. choose complete or limited submission
6. choose 'a quiet life' of apparent submission
7. choose disguised rejection
8. choose open rejection
Because Pd anticipates Os's alternatives to complete Faith, Pd's strategies for the application of R are:
1. adopt a discourse of love, care and a benign vocabulary which categorises all Pd acts as being 'in your best interests'; such a discourse screens or veils,
2. use force, threats, terror
3. use privation (by denying access to opportunities and rewards) in conjunction with '1' and a discourse of opportunity, and merit
4. generate a discourse of self blame for all failure, and self praise for all success as covering discourse which creates a sense of self-responsibility and autonomy
The most subtle of strategies would use all of the above within a discourse structure that disguises or diverts attention from the real source of any threats, and privations and which permeates all discourse with 'love', 'care' and a vocabulary of 'in your best interests'.
Comments and hyperlinked notes added May 2003
It is not too farfetched to see educational manuals advocating these approaches. Have a look at John Lock for a very early behavioural account or Rogers' more recent manual for teachers.
Cooley, C. H. (1902) Human nature and the social order, New York: Charles Scribner's Sons
Lacan, J. (1977) 'The mirror stage as formative of the function of the I', in: Écrits. A selection. London: Tavistock/Routledge
Locke, J. (1693, 1989) Some thoughts concerning education, edited with introduction, notes and critical apparatus by John W. and Jean S. Yolton, Oxford, Clarendon,
Mead, G.H. (1934) Mind, Self and Society, University of Chicago Press
Schostak, J. F. (2000) 'Developing Under Developing Circumstances: the Personal and Social Development of Students and the Process of Schooling' in: J. Elliott and H. Altrichter, Images of Educational Change, Open University
Schreber, D. P. (1955, 1988) Memoirs of My Nervous Illness. Trans. Ida Macalpine and Richard, Hunter. (London: Dawson, 1955). Second Revised Edition Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Belknap.