Zbornik Instituta za pedagoska istrazivanja 2006 Volume 38, Issue 1, Pages: 124-150
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Choosing school underachievement as a way to resist power

Džinović Vladimir, Pavlović Jelena, Stojnov Dušan

Underachievement in school is seen as a failure in traditional theories of education. An alternative construction of school underachievement, from the point of view of Michel Foucault’ s approach to power and George Kelly's principle of elaborative choice, is offered as the subject matter of this paper. Instead of being construed exclusively as a measure of good education school success can be seen as the effect of normalization based on the power of discourses dominating in a society. In the same time, underachievement can be seen as a form of resistance to dominant discourse, as well as a way of defining identity in accordance with marginalized discourses whose significance is not recognized or respected from the point of school authorities. The prevailing tradition of European rationality treats poor achievement as a case of norm deviation. The individual perspectives are discounted as irrational and disordered behavior, requiring treatment. Kelly however, asserts that claims of irrationality reflect poor understanding of individual perspectives. When individuals resist the dominant discourse and underachieve despite their abilities, they are making an active choice which should be understood from their point of view. The choice someone makes is always an elaborative choice. Thus underachievement may be construed as resistance to power, based on the principle of elaborative choice.

Keywords: school failure, education, power, resistance, irrationality, elaborative choice, genealogy, constructivism

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