Agents of the State: Ambivalence in the Teacher's Position
The language of learning did not exist in these schools for the poor, where indoctrination and rectification were fundamental objectives. 1 Nevertheless, instructional processes and curriculums did develop. Successive curriculums were devised for students who could not speak the language and came from faraway, unfamiliar civilizations. Their goal was not so much to educate as to demean, by holding the student's speech and culture up to that of the school itself. The student's attendance was proof of his or her need for instruction: whence those incessant practice drills that numbed the intellect and taught youth to comply at all costs.
There was in the instructional act, even in its most benevolent forms, an element of subjection and resignation. If, in urban schools, the students were exposed to continual surveillance, it was because they could not be trusted to control themselves when they were unwatched: if schoolwork often resulted in confused looks and stares, it was because the minds of students were too unformed, too given to indolence, or too drawn to the baser pleasures; in any event, they lacked the knowledge and understandings they would develop after years of urban education. 2 Beneath the arbitrariness of pedagogic work that seemed to demand continuous tasks of senseless work, there was the command for compliance and surrender to authority; the pupil's indolence and sluggishness were only passive instances of resistance to a process that sought to