Enclosing the Citizen: The Role of Telos, AretÃ©, and Techniques of Power in Western Social Systems and K-12 Education
Jennison, Katherine L.
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This thesis discusses the ways that the evolving notions of the citizen in Western philosophical traditions has been deeply informed by the ancient Hellenic concepts of arete, telos, and logics of categorical thinking. I argue that teleological thinking is the catalyst for the use of differentiation in order to organize and, more specifically, hierarchize the natural world to serve the telos of those in power. This thesis is arranged in chronological order of historical time periods to illustrate the impact of Western philosophers and natural scientists on epistemologies of contemporary racialized thinking. Using Michel Foucault’s theory of how power moves and regulates people and their own desires, I explore teleological thinking and how it uses a variety of enclosures as a technique of power. One important example can be seen in the teleological impulses of the United States K-12 education system, in particular through the implementation of the Common Core State Standards. In the last chapter, I narrow my analysis to a school improvement report for Stewart Middle School in Tacoma, Washington written by representatives from the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. I focus on the impact of the Common Core State Standards and how they primarily serve the State’s economic interests to develop workers. I argue that the Common Core State Standards function to pre-problematize the “ideal” worker by enclosing students into racial, gender, and economic categories to organize and hierarchize them. I suggest that before we can take any action to change, we must internalize the problems posed and acknowledge how we play a role in the dialectical relationship of coercion and consent between the State, the school, and the student.