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Playfulresponsibility Whenpersonalresponsiblitybecomes a public matter
Topic Analysis of a ‘responsibility game’ using Jacques Derrida’s analysis of the concept of personal responsibility Research questions: What kind of responsibility is articulated in the current discourse and in the tools used for responsibilization of parents? What paradoxes does this articulation create? Thesis: Personal responsibility becomes a public matter Responsibility games designed to promote personal responsibility dislocate and deconstruct at the same time the very form of personal responsibility. Questions that might be interesting to discuss: Do you recognize the tendencies that I describe here? How does it connect to ‘monitoring parents’ and demanding of the parents to ‘follow the rules’?
The discursive context Public schools in Denmark demands more personal responsibility from parents: ”Your child’s friend is not well because his parents are getting a divorce. Do you talk to the parents about this, or do you think that you should keep clear and leave the school teacher to deal with the problem?” (Danish Minister for Social Welfare on the website ’myresponsibility.dk’, 2008) ”Some parents think that what has to do with the school, belongs to the school. Following up on homework, talking concepts, take a trip. I mean: to open up the kids. As if it’s not their department.” (teacher, public school in Denmark, 2006)
From observer to performer Parents used to be articulated as observers and supporters with specific, limited duties. Now parents are articulated as performers, expected to be personally responsible – but still within the logic of the school.
The responsibility game School Mutual Home Who is responsible for ensuring… That the childsitsdownwhen the bell rings? That the childfeelsgoodabouthim og her self? That the child is able to handle conflictswithothers? That the childdevelopscreativity and imagination? That the child is able to lose games with a goodgrace?
Research questions What kind of responsibility is articulated in the current discourse and in the tools used for responsibilisation of parents? What kind of paradoxes does this articulation create?
The form of personalresponsibility Jacques Derrida: The gift of death
The form of personal responsibility: The ethical temptation “for Abraham, Kirkegaard declares, the ethical is a temptation. He must therefore resist it. He keeps quiet in order to avoid the moral temptation which, under the pretext of calling him to responsibility along with his singularity, make him lose his unjustifiable, secret, and absolute responsibility before God. [...] The ethical therefore ends up making us irresponsible.” (Derrida 1992: 62)
The responsibility game Almost all statements are eventually categorized as ‘mutual’ Parents are obliged to see the family internal affairs as relevant to the school The ‘mutual’ is defined by the school Be responsible but do not interfere Play turns into decision
Deconstruction of the classical form The game risks producing ethical temptations. The game risks thereby puts the form of personal responsibility at stake. The game allow the school to oscillate between offering a performance role to the parents and to turn them into pure observers.
Paradoxes – whenpersonalresponsibilitybecomes a public matter How can parents assume a responsibility when they shouldn’t ‘interfere’? How can parents avoid the ethical temptation when they are asked to reflect in public on our personal decisions? How can we create a discussion of the mutual tasks and goals of school and family when the ‘mutual’ is given as a morally obliging condition? How can we recognize responsible behaviour when general responsibilities are not defined outside the facilitated dialogues?
Discussion Comments/questions? Do you recognize the tendencies of the turning personal responsibility into a public matter? How does the tendencies of turning personal responsibility into a public matter connect to ‘monitoring parents’ and demanding of the parents to ‘follow the rules’?
Furtherreading Andersen, N. Å. & Knudsen, H (submitted for publication): Playfulresponsibility. Responsibilization of parents - deconstructing the form of responsibility. Andersen, N. Å. & Knudsen, H (forthcoming): Health games: Towards a playful responsibility. Andersen, N. Å. (2009): Power at play. The relationships between play, work and governance, Palgrave Macmillan, London. Knudsen, H. (2009): “The betwixt and between family class”, Nordic Educational Review, 29 (1): 149-162. Knudsen, H. (2011/forthcoming): “The game of hospitality”, Ephemera, special issue on Work, Play and Boredom.
Technologies currentlyused to makeparentsassumeresponsibility Family classes School/home contracts, parents contracts Parents defining expectations for other parents, e.g. bullying policies Various games (Not traditional school-home consultations, because they position the teacher as the expert, pointing out the exact duties of the parents) (Not political fora as school board, because they allow the parent to insist on formulating the community in other languages than the school’s)