‘Finding Foucault’: Contextualising Power in the Curriculum Through Reflections on Students’ Dialoguing About Foucauldian Discourses

  • Mary Frances Agnello


The findings of this study are presented in a Readers’ Theatre (Donmoyer & Yennie-Donmoyer 1995) format to illustrate the learning of graduate students in a Curriculum and Instruction summer school seminar at a large university in the Southwest USA. Presented in three acts, and in a drama script format, I wanted to capture the students’ questions, problems, ruminations and assertions about theories of Michel Foucault as they relate to the field of education (Foucault, 1965, 1972, 1977, 1978, 1980, 1985). The intent in offering this course was to introduce students to some lesser applied and sometimes more meaningful research tools and insights than are taught in research core rotation courses (e.g. qualitative, ethnographic, statistical research approaches). I was particularly interested in their identifying how power is exercised in many locations: by policymakers, educational researchers, curriculum producers and supervisors; by teachers as they connect learning and students’ lives; and by students as they attempt to make sense of knowledge and power in their own lives and for their own purposes. For those students who worked at a distance, reading the Archaeology of Knowledge (1972) presented an arduous challenge; however, working online did not deter reading and rereading Foucault’s major works and interrogation of his research methods. The students who attended face-to-face class meetings encountered the same challenges with Foucault’s dense and sometimes difficult text. Nevertheless, both the online and face-to-face students applied his assertions in meaningful ways to grapple with comprehending the exercise of power through the curriculum.


Tenured Faculty Pantheon Book Summer Session Graduate Seminar Teacher Attrition 
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© Mary Frances Agnello 2016

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  • Mary Frances Agnello

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