Panopticism in the Classroom

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A panopticon is a well-designed circular building in which is always under complete surveillance, allowing the observer to see everyone within the perimeters while people are not able see or acknowledge them back. Michel Foucault mentions in his essay entitled “Panopticism” that there is a common resemblance to this 17th century structure, to many different, but common spaces in today’s society. Although some may say there is no way we live with the in-depth surveillance a panopticon had, but when comparing the panopticon structures to today’s typical, everyday routines, one may begin to acknowledge there is a less noticeable way of being watched. For instance, a classroom is a reoccurring, modern day example of the Foucault description of a panopticon. This example of a modern panopticon shows the growth and development of the ubiquitous acceptance of the panopticism that students seam to be subconsciously influence by. Based on the type of arrangement in the classroom there can be different set powers that can be established between the teacher and students. One may also notice resemblances in modern day structure of a lecture hall, and the different types of conformity both teacher and students participate in, all of which reflect back on Foucault-based panopticism.

“Power” may be defined as one having the ability or right to delegate, act, direct, and or influence others or certain events because of ones higher status. In a classroom setting we have the students and teacher/s; students learn from the teachers, who obtain the information on what to teach from a higher panel of educators, who previously obtained that information from an even higher panel of educators, and the line goes on. The process of passing the knowledge is done to help students get the correct information they need succeed to reach higher places in life, preparing them to someday obtain a higher role. This development starts even as young as elementary students. Michael Gallagher...
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