Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Such is the case...

To cite a previous post:

To permit the unquestioned ascendancy of ‘performance management’ over language and cybernetic performativity is to inhibit, if not to destroy, the creative and caring dimensions of the performative, thereby breaking the social bond that such language and cybernetic performativity enacts, instilling instead fear and conformity.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Pedagogic suicide. The scene of teaching. A work in progress. Part 4.

This text continues, and completes, The Scene of Teaching. A work in progress. The earlier parts can be found here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.
My Struggle is the chronicle of Knausgaard turning his back on the genre of the novel…He has described the writing of My Struggle as an act of ‘literary suicide’: ‘There is nothing left; I can never again write something from the heart without repeating myself, but I wanted it that way. In Volume 6 I even wrote a couple of lines about future novels, stories I’d thought of, just to kill them off. The last sentence in that book is: “And I’m so happy that I’m no longer an author’” (Lerner, 2014, citing Karl Ove Knausgaard)

54. To reiterate, invisible pedagogies generate procedures of control based on multi-layered class patterns of communication required to support and promote their concept and practice of social order.
[Is this the case even for those who have come to realise that the heart of discourse is not order but disorder, not coherence but incoherence, not clarity but ambiguity and that the heart of discourse is not control but the possibility of new realities?]
[55. Is this not also to neglect to consider that the preservation of (fixed, hierarchical) order is not the priority for the class fractions under consideration, who seek not just an overturning of an established order but a continual ‘revolution’, a churning of hierarchy and of order? Is this view of order, as a certain kind of controlled regularity, not one from pre-bourgeois Europe, when the preservation of order was more important than the generation of new ideas, a time when power, the ability to act politically and the ability to act economically, was centralised in royal families and professional guilds?]
56. The construction of these communicative competences, concerning, that is, social order, is “likely to be”, Bernstein says, class-based. Thus, where these competences are not made available in the home (the scene of domesticity, the scene of familiarity, the scene of domestication), the child is less likely to be self-regulating in school, according to the requirements of the school’s invisible pedagogic practice. The child, therefore, is likely to mis-read both the classroom practice and its pedagogic context. 
[We are in the domain of some kind of ‘literacy’ here, with its communicative competences and readings/mis-readings, but not of texts, this time, rather mis/readings of situations, behaviours, intentions and inter-actions. We might punningly call it ‘class literacy’: the literacy of the classroom through the literacy of being middle class]
Bernstein reiterates: The assumptions of invisible pedagogies as they inform spatial, temporal and control grids [how ‘inform’?; why ‘grid’?] are less likely to be met in working class or ethnically disadvantaged groups. In consequence, the working class or ethnically disadvantaged child is likely to mis-read the cultural significance and the cognitive import of classroom practice articulating/articulated by an invisible pedagogy. Equally, the teacher is likely to mis-read the cognitive and cultural significance of the child.

57. Bernstein recounts: in his analysis of the social class assumptions of visible and invisible  pedagogies, he has defined two sites: 
the school/classroom, where his analysis dwelt upon visible pedagogies; and 
the family/home, where he dwelt on invisible pedagogies.
The ‘scene of teaching’ stretches across these two sites, sites which are both institutions and locations, taking into account the ambiguity of our understanding of ‘situation’, being situated, being environed (inter-corporeally), perceiving-being-perceived, being positioned (inter-subjectively). Two times, two places, one scene. The strength of a particular pedagogic practice, Bernstein suggests, depends on how well it articulates and coordinates the pedagogic practice of the school/classroom and that of the family/home, i.e. how well they supplement one another. 

58. To complicate matters, Bernstein argues that one rarely finds pure forms of pedagogic practice. Rather, the invisible pedagogy is embedded in a visible pedagogy. The form of this embedding is such that, 
“The specific specialised skills and attributes of a visible pedagogy are beneath the surface of an invisible pedagogy.” (Bernstein, 2004: 211)
On the 'class supports’ of visible and invisible pedagogies, Bernstein states that advocates of the ‘new education’ of the 1920s and 1930s were drawn from professional agents of symbolic control; while those who opposed invisible pedagogies were likely to be members of the middle class whose work had a direct relation to the production, distribution and circulation of capital. 

59. The conflict between these fractions of the middle class, Bernstein suggests, is over principles of social order, i.e. over control, and not over the distribution of power. They differ over the necessity for and the role of the nation-state, i.e. the parliamentary and legislatorial apparatuses of a representational democracy. 

In simplistic terms, middle-class sponsors of invisible pedagogy support state intervention and the expansion of agents and agencies of symbolic control, and in consequence support growth in public expenditure. This, argues Bernstein, is self-interested because such growth provides ground and opportunity for their own advancement. In contrast, middle-class sponsors of visible pedagogies, drawn from the economic sector and the entrepreneurial professions, oppose growth in public expenditure. 

Thus, these two middle-class fractions represent opposed material and symbolic interests. 

Visible pedagogies; two modalities

60. Schools and universities are increasingly engaged, Bernstein argues, in struggles over:
what should be transmitted
the degree of autonomy of transmission
conditions of service of those who transmit
the procedures of evaluation of acquirers
Bernstein considers two modes of settling those conflicts:
in favour of a knowledge-oriented visible pedagogy; or
in favour of a market-oriented visible pedagogy
A market-oriented visible pedagogy, Bernstein comments, is a truly secular form, born out of the context of cost-efficient education.

61. The explicit rules of selection, sequence, pace and criteria of a visible pedagogy translate readily into performance indicators both of staff and pupils' performances in schools; while a behaviourist theory of instruction (i.e. of teaching and learning) readily leads to the realisation of programmes, manuals and packaged instruction. In this way, the market and the economy are reproduced in the school. 

The knowledge-oriented visible pedagogy justifies itself through the intrinsic worthwhileness and value of the knowledge it ‘relays’ and through the (behavioural) discipline its acquisition requires: the dispositional discipline of acquiring a disciplinary discipline; the subjectivity acquired through subjection to the subject discipline[, a form of subjectivity, it might be said, that under-emphasises inter-subjective relation in favour an an (imaginary) relation to a disciplinary subject as a ‘body of knowledge’, elaborated from a ‘set of principles’ or possibly ‘laws’ - of nature and of society].

62. Bernstein notes that the arrogance of a knowledge-oriented visible pedagogy lies in:
its claim to the moral high ground;
its claim to the superiority of its culture;
its indifference to its stratification consequences;
its conceit in presuming the possibility of a lack of relation to anything other than itself; and
its (presumptive) self-referential, abstracted autonomy.
Ideologically, the market-oriented visible pedagogy is a far more complex construction. In one direction, it incorporates some of the criticisms of the knowledge-oriented visible pedagogy, often deriving from a Leftist position (to use this political imagery, inadequate though it has become), but these criticisms are woven into a new discourse. 

63. Thus, Bernstein critiques: 
First, the explicit commitment to greater choice by parents and pupils, because it is not a realisation of participatory democracy. It is, rather, a thin cover for the ongoing stratification of schools and curricula.
Second, new forms of assessment and profiling, which are criteria-referenced rather than norm-referenced. While purportedly to recognise and liberate individual qualities, they actually permit greater control of assessment.
Third, periodic mass testing of pupils concentrates new distribution procedures for homogenising acquisition while creating performance indicators of its effectiveness. 
Fourth, vocationalism, while appearing to offer the lower working class a legitimation of their own pedagogic interests in a manual-based curriculum, thereby seeming to include them as important pedagogic subjects, at the same time closes off their own personal and occupational possibilities.
64. In the UK, the market-oriented visible pedagogy, while apparently creating greater local independence for, and competition among, schools and teachers, at the same time ties the schools more directly to central state regulations and control.

The shift which seems to be taking place in the UK is away from the state regulation of the economy to state regulation of symbolic control, accomplished through the intermediate agency of managers, administrators and industrialists. 

65. In sum, for Bernstein, the ideological message of a market-oriented visible pedagogy is less the regulation and realisation of ‘relevance’ [to market-based conditions] than the new regulation and realisation of symbolic control in the transition from a form of capitalism based on financing industrial production and consumption, and extracting value from surplus labour, particularly though the processes of automation, to one based on financing broadcast mass communications and tele-communications as ‘industries’ in their own right.

And I am so happy I am/no longer/never was a teacher. Delete as appropriate…


Lerner, Ben (2014) Each cornflake. London Review of Books, 36 (10), 21-22.

Saturday, 31 May 2014

Control (systems and systems of control)

If Basil Bernstein (see earlier posts, 1, 2, 3) struggles to articulate a satisfactory framework in which to discuss the role of education in producing, reproducing and changing social order, Gary Indiana (2014) brings to attention William Burroughs’ much more simple and straightforward, if rather deterministic, metaphor of control. For Burroughs, 
“the social order controls its subjects by addicting them to drugs, money, sexual desire, consumer products and technology; to habit, insensible codes of morality and binary logic; and by reproducing the species in gendered bodies on a planet of incompatible life forms.”
Is Burroughs, perhaps, a new materialist, if hardly a feminist, avant la lettre?


Indiana, Gary (2014) Predatory sex aliens. London Review of Books, 36 (9), pp.25-26.

Monday, 26 May 2014

Professionalism, Identity and Professional Identity

Continuing the theme of identity raised in Declarative identity and (processes of) identification, one should consider the stance of Johnny Tragedy/Jonathan Stanish on the matter of identity, professionalism and professional identity, expressed from a US, particularly New York perspective, in the context of art practice.

He says, in an interview with Mark Sengbusch:

"Johnny Tragedy is what non-artists think artists are—someone who lives in a Bushwick loft, has an MFA, tattoos, and is in a band (laughs). Even being in a band seems so old fashioned at this point. Jonathan Stanish is what the art world wants artists to be—marketable, palpable to market trends, and easily digestible. They both are cliches, they both pander to their audiences. (Don’t we all to some degree?) But by having both, I get some freedom in being able to go back and forth. Tragedy can get away with making a lot weirder art, and the pseudonym keeps it separated from what comes up when you Google search “Jonathan Stanish”, so Stanish’s professionalism remains preserved. Stanish, in some ways, allows Tragedy to have this freedom by supporting him financially. I also get to make art as Stanish that Tragedy might consider “selling out.”  Stanish’s goal is to make money as a “capital A Artist.” His work is about the history of printmaking and ceramics. Tragedy’s practice takes place more online, often in the form of self-promotion for the sake of self-promotion."

Source: Sengbusch, M. and Tragedy, J. (2014). Born Tragedy. NYArts, 21 (2), pp.10-11.

An online version of this interview is available at:

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Communication, system; Learning, environments. The scene of teaching. A work in progress. Part 3

The teacher's voice; HIS commandments

Still, we cannot shake off the Bernsteinian text.

This text continues: Scholarisation, classification and The Scene of teaching. A work in progress

Visible pedagogy, spatial assumptions

45. Thus, in the case of a family operating with a visible pedagogy, Bernstein continues, each room has its own function. [By implication, it would seem that Bernstein is suggesting that visible pedagogies operate along ‘functional’, ‘operational' or 'instrumental lines’, that, in some sense, they pertain to ‘work’, a term that we leave open at this point.]

Within this scenario, Bernstein suggests, objects have fixed positions within rooms and spaces are reserved for particular categories of persons. In such spaces, there are strong explicit rules regulating the movement of objects, practices and communication from one space to another. [We might ask: what kind of spatio-temporal regime is this? It is only ‘visible' if it is ‘perceivable’, that is to say, if the ‘rules’ can be read, interpreted and acted upon from the objects and arrangement of rooms. In other words, the rules are neither ‘in’ the objects nor ‘in’ the perceiver, but in their coming together in a stream of inter-action. It is more akin to a slow, apparently static, learning environment, from which meta-rules about ‘the world’ or ‘the outside world’ are extrapolated from rules of spatio-temporal navigation.]

46. Such spaces are strongly classified, and such strong classification can often provide privacy within its boundaries. [The sense of being an autonomous, ‘skin-bound individual’, perhaps?]

Such a spatial ‘grid’ [a term that requires substitution], Bernstein asserts, carries cognitive and social messages. [As is becoming apparent, these are not ‘messages’ in any simple or conventional sense. They articulate commands, instructions, guidance, suggestions, intimations, and so on. In short, they are performative. What seems to be missing here is a framework by means of which social topologies and spatial topologies are inter-related, and not simply as analogues, while supplementing one another, in a Derridean sense (they are at the origin of each other, they ‘found’ each other, and one might say, they continue to ‘find’ each other, they are the non-origin at the origin). The beginnings of such a dialogue or dialectic can be found in Fogle (2011).]

Invisible pedagogy, spatial assumptions

47. Bernstein continues: For a family operating an invisible pedagogy, the spatial [‘grid’, he says, but possible better] regime is more weakly marked. [But how so, ‘marked’: graphically, explicitly, visibly, perceptibly?] The rules regulating movements of objects, persons, practices and communications are less constraining. Living is more ‘open plan’ [an interesting choice of terminology]. Paradoxically, with greater freedom, there may be less privacy. 

The spatial regime of the invisible pedagogy facilitates and encourages the displaying and revealing of individual representations. [It is unclear to ‘me’, the reader of the inscription, what Bernstein might mean here].

Again, Bernstein asserts, “cognitive and social messages are carried by such a space”, messages which will be unavailable to families disadvantaged by class or ethnicity, he suggests. [Again, ‘messages’ in what sense? Are they not, to paraphrase McLuhan, also ‘media’. And what is the difference, in this context, between ‘medium’ and ‘environment’?]

Invisible pedagogy, temporal assumptions


48. The major economic assumption of an invisible pedagogy is a long pedagogic life.
[A life-long learning?: He states, "If all children left school at 14 there would be no invisible pedagogies." (Bernstein, 2004: 209) There would be insufficient time for invisible pedagogies. But what sense of 'time' is implied here. The timing of sequencing and pacing, not the undifferentiated passing of chronological time].
This is because its relaxed rhythm (pace and sequence), its less specialised acquisitions and its systems of control entail a different temporal projection relative to a visible pedagogy for comparable acquisition. 

Bernstein suggests that families who favour this more relaxed regime for the early years of their child’s life often run a compensatory pedagogic programme dedicated to reading, writing and counting, while the child’s creative potential is facilitated by the invisible pedagogy of the infant or pre-school. 


49. Such economic assumptions are supplemented by symbolic presuppositions. Thus, in a visible familial pedagogy [we are still following the Bernsteinian scenario, here], socialisation involves a symbolic projection in which time is marked by a series of dislocations in his or her treatment and expected behaviour.

Time is symbolically marked as the child moves through a series of statuses which define his or her relation to parents and siblings. The child is developed in and by a particular construction of time[, which is to say, the child is a ‘product’, ‘object’ and ‘subject’ in a particular configuration of (spatio-)temporal practices. In addition, such temporal practices articulate implicitly-held theories of instruction and of child development, such as those expressed by Piaget, Chomsky and Freud].

50. In the case of an invisible familial pedagogy, different temporal practices are engaged. In this frame, the enactment of time appears to give priority to the child’s time-space, over and above the time-space of the parents. It also highlights the concrete present of the child. Thus, age statuses give way to the unique signs of the child’s own constructed development. 

The familial spatio-temporal practices adopted may be at odds with the regime of the school, Bernstein comments.

One implication of an invisible pedagogy, Bernstein suggests, is that, because statuses are relatively more weakly marked and because of the more individualised or personalised realisations expected, the child, although apparently only following his or her own trajectory, is competing with everybody. 

Control, hierarchical rules

51. Visible pedagogies, Bernstein argues, are positional, or, rather, they are positioning. Spatial and temporal regimes [i.e. not ‘grids’] provide an explicit structure, a set of proscriptions and prescriptions (prohibitions and permissions). 
[Bernstein uses the term ‘grammar’. He says, a grammar of proscriptions and prescriptions. He suggests that once the child has acquired the implicit grammar of the spatial and temporal ‘grids’ [better, ‘regimes’], problems of control are much reduced. 
The analogy of space and time as having a fundamental grammar from which all spatio-temporal arrangements are derived, is, however, weak, unless one adopts a more explicitly phenomenological approach to the relationships among perception, action and language, whereby the processes of perceiving spatial arrangements is ‘translated’ into language and enters into the flow of inter-perception and inter-action. It would seem to require a performative understanding of language and the possibility that ‘language acts’ can be materialised as spatial arrangements which affect the temporal flow of ongoing inter-action]
In this schema, i.e. of spatial and temporal ‘grids’, explicit structure in the form of a grammar of proscriptions and prescriptions, control functions to clarify, maintain and repair boundaries. One of the main strategies of control is (physical/spatial/temporal exclusion).

52. In the context of weakened spatial and temporal ‘grids’, Bernstein contends that control lies almost entirely in inter-personal communication. Through this multi-layered inter-personal communication the child is encouraged to make more of his or her ‘inside’, feelings, fantasies, fears and aspirations [implying an imaginary ‘self’?].

This process works to make the invisible visible, through language, which, as Bernstein says, may carry its own pathology, a comment he explains in the following terms. The child exercises a degree of control over the parents by withdrawing into his- or her-self, by not being there symbolically or physically. The parents must then develop strategies of retrieval in order to return the child, physically or symbolically, to the communication system. [This is the first mention of communication forming a ‘system’]. In this way, the child develops an elaborate repertoire of manipulative skills. 

Thus, for Bernstein, invisible pedagogies generate procedures of control based on multi-layered class patterns of communication required to support and promote their concept and practice of social order.
53. [A different language of ‘system’ and ‘order’ enters the fray here which shifts that of ‘grid’, as we move from spatial grid, temporal grid and control grid to social order, spatial order an temporal order with ‘ordering principles’ that enable ‘translation' among the spatial, the temporal and the social; and from the immediate-context-tied to the abstract (abstract, universal, rational). 
The griddedness, the orderliness and the translatability are all aspects of the emergence of a communication system].

Fogle, N. (2011). The Spatial logic of social struggle: a Bourdieuian topology, Lanham: Lexington Books.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Scholarisation, classification. The scene of teaching. A work in progress. Part 2

This text continues the previous blog post: The scene of teaching. A work in progress, a reading of Basil Bernstein’s “Social class and pedagogic practice” 

This text is continued by the following post: Communication, system; Learning environments

"In his book Consciousness Explained (1991), Daniel Dennett refers to conscious perception as a little theatre inside the brain, or “Cartesian theatre.” In this idea, the conscious experience coalesces within the viewer’s head as his own consciousness is projected on stage. With its many actors, plots, props, and lighting, the audience perspective distances the viewer from actuality. According to Dennett’s scenario, one helplessly digests the scripted realities fed to experience. However, in my view, this perspective does not account for different arrival times of the same perception and other phantom sensory physiology.” (Brown, 2014: 89)

Visible pedagogies, sequencing rules

22. In a visible pedagogy, it is crucial that a child reads early. Once a child can read, the book is there. The book, in this instance, is the textbook, or its equivalent, some form of set text.

Once a child can read, independent solitary work is possible. The child is introduced into a non-oral form of discourse, the rules of which are at variance with oral forms of discourse. That difference concerns both the symbolic relay (written characters and the verbal structures of the written sentence, paragraph, page, chapter, and so on, and their relation to the graphically encoded utterances and acts being performed) and the content of what is relayed. 

In an important sense, Bernstein states, reading makes the child eventually less dependent on the teacher and gives the acquirer access to alternative perspectives.
[23. The centrality of reading and of ‘the written’, prior to the acquisition of writing as a distinct skill, is significant for several reasons. 
First, it opens up the path to ‘literacy’. This ‘literacy' is a set of interlinked skills and a form of behaviour. Although instruction, the performative dimension of the transmitter’s role, if we continue with this language of transmission and acquisition-through-reception, is oral, even if this is not the transparent speech of the Rousseauan pastiche constructed by Trifonas from Derrida’s text, the content of the instruction concerns the acquisition of written symbolic forms. ‘Literacy’ requires a grasping of this orality-as-instruction, reading-as-acquisition, the articulation of this orality and reading as a form of learning and the ability to write, as a response to this overall scene of teaching, to demonstrate that one has acquired and internalised the written content, following the oral instruction.
Acquiring that content requires an engagement with the materiality of the relay, the written language, the grammatical structures by means of which it is articulated, the semantic rules by means of which its structures are given value, the performative moves by means of which those values act to position a reader (the reader in the inscription, we might add), and the referential dimension of the text, the worlds, both real (world narratives) and imaginary (narrative worlds), to which the text refers and discursively constructs, and which 'exist' for the reader-in-the-inscription - articulated and interpreted by the reader-of-the-inscription. 
The ‘scene of teaching’ imbricates both speech and writing in their conventional senses to form a discursive, multimedia textuality, Derridean ‘writing’ or ‘trace’, the supplement at the core which substitutes as it adds and which requires a grammatography (not a grammato-logy), rather than a structural linguistics or a logical semiotics, to decipher its formal dimensions, and a field of interactivity, a Bourdieuan ‘field’ and ‘habitus’, which arrests that paradoxical, supplementary drifting and forms it into different kinds of material practice.
24. Second, it opens up the path to individuation, or simply to division. Individuation, if it is not simply to operate as an ideological cipher, is a double process: through the process of reading and relating to different perspectives, a distinct position on those perspectives is formed that did not precede the engagement with those different perspectives. One becomes formed as ‘individual’ through ‘inhabiting' a distinctive relationship to a field of others, others for whom one, the putative individual, provides an alternative perspective; and that individuation, as negotiation of a field of inter-relationships, is an going process, with different levels of distinctiveness. Individuation, in other words, is socialised throughout.
Third, it opens the path to a re-thinking and a re-imagining of the ‘scene of teaching’, one which accepts that from the beginning, and in its non-original origin, it has always been a complex oral-written, i.e. mediated, field of interaction, using a mixture of discursive forms, notably the performative (in the form of the jussive enacted through the body of the teacher) and the constative (in the form of the statements held together in the text-book, with the book as a symbolic, cultural form, closing down an otherwise endless drift of paralysing paradoxical injunctions).
In other words, on the one hand, it opens up the ‘body’ of the teacher (the 'transmitter’), as the site of authority, to other forms of materialisation of utterance and authority; and, on the other hand, it opens up the medium of transmission to other media technologies. In so doing, it opens itself differently to the ‘student body’, who no longer simply acquire the transmission in a scene of teaching as shared immediacy, and re-transmit. Hence, the apparent indirection in this text, its dissensual assent, not omitting the sensualism inherent in such bodily practices, although not submitting to the visual commercialisation to which the senses, sensualism and sensuality are currently subjected.
25. Fourth, it opens up a rethinking of ‘the book’ as institutional form and as symbolic form, enabling a re-thinking of the elements that this form holds together in both its institutional dimension and its symbolic dimension.
Symbolically, in Derridean terms, it opens up the book to the field of 'writing'. However, it opens this Derridean sense to a further understanding of the field of writing as a field of performative social engagement, in which individuation takes place as a relational act, from which re-articulated collectivities can be assembled, not on the basis of 'natural' instinct or or 'natural' characteristics but on the basis of iterated engagements with social personas. Equally, though, this field of 'writing' practice does not take place within a restricted sense of the linguistic. If it is language, it is a complex form embodied and mediated materialisation.
Institutionally, it opens the book to the institutions of publishing, or making public or sharing, and to the institutions of archiving, or collecting and curating, and the changes that each of these domains are undergoing, affecting awareness, recall or remembering and the practices of memorialisation and historiography.
26. Finally, it opens up a re-thinking of the ‘digital’ as a process of re-embodiment, not as a process of dis-embodiment. The body never has been simply corporeal, or rather inter-corporeal, to use Merleau-Ponty’s term, but also inter-subjective, i.e. a network of complex social positions, statuses, qualities and significations, the inter-subjective itself articulating various forms of imaginary, virtual identities (ego cogitos, rational selves, imaginary selves).
Reading, in other words, may introduce a multitude of dilemmas for the capable reader, the ‘acquirer’ and the acquisition process - what can be taken upon the self and into the self and what can be reproduced by the self authentically. This is not limited to extending reading to other texts, outside the text-book, and to accepting other perspectives. In short, their reading may take 'acquirers' beyond the scene of teaching as shared immediacy (non-shared, not-immediate, not present) and, while still learning, their learning may be incapable of return to or validation within that scene. 
For the scene of teaching, in the form of an imaginary shared immediacy, can there be an outside of the text-book? For learning, there certainly is.]
27. To return to Bernstein, he asserts that those children who are unable to meet the sequencing rules as they apply to reading become more dependent on the teacher and upon oral forms of discourse.

Bernstein here introduces a further aspect of sequencing rules: the relationship between local meanings, defined as the here-and-now and the context-dependent, or rather immediate-context-tied, for all meanings are context-dependent, and the less local or more distant, the there-and-then, less immediate-context-tied. Bernstein uses the phrase ‘context-independent’, but it is rather a case of more or less immediate or more or less mediated because, as noted, all meanings are context-dependent. 

28. Bernstein explains that, in pedagogic terms, this distinction refers to the acquisition of context-tied operations, on the one hand, and to the operation and understanding of principles and their application to other situations already experienced and to new situations that have not previously been experienced. 

In visible pedagogies, the local, immediate-context-tied operations come early in the sequence, while understanding and application of more abstract, less-context-tied, but still context-dependent, principles comes later in the sequence; and fully grasping the principles, qua abstracted principles applicable in several or many situations, comes even later in the sequence. 

29. It is here that Bernstein’s axiomatic, taxonomic discourse turns to social class. Thus, he reasons syllogistically that if children cannot meet the requirements of the sequencing rules, and get caught up in the repair system, then these children are constrained by the local, immediate-context-tied skills, a world of facticity, as Bernstein calls it. 

He inserts in the middle of this syllogism, although it is not a necessary part of its logic but a matter of empirical concern, these children are often children of the lower working class, including other disadvantaged groups. 

30. Contrariwise, children who can meet the requirements of the sequencing rules will eventually have access to the principles of their own discourse. Crucially, although Bernstein does not say so explicitly, they will understand the principles whereby they will be able to generate contexts which determine the meanings of utterances and actions that occur within that frame. 

These more capable children are more likely, Bernstein states, to be middle class and are more likely to come to understand that the heart of discourse is not order but disorder (or, rather, the maintenance of order in the midst of disorder or the overturning of one order for another), not coherence but incoherence (or, rather, that it is a struggle to be or become coherent, and that this struggle is continual), not clarity but ambiguity (not single, simple meanings but multiple meanings intricately reticulated with one another, adding to and displacing one another) and that the heart of discourse is the possibility of new realities (rather, the generation of new contexts determinate not just of the meanings enacted within them but of the possibilities for legitimate meaning-production).

31. Bernstein is left with a problem. If the middle class have grasped this potential at the heart of discourse, the possibility, as he puts it, of creating new realities, why are they not demonstrating in practice those capabilities, bringing into being new realities?

The answer, Bernstein argues, “must be” that socialisation into a visible pedagogy tries to ensure that its discourse is safe rather than dangerous, that it does not stray, we might say, into “that dangerous supplement”, the marginal addition, that substitutes, and in substituting displaces and replaces. 

Thus, for Bernstein, a visible pedagogy deforms the children, as students, of both the dominant and the dominated social classes. A visible pedagogy distributes different forms of consciousness according to the social class origin of acquirers, forms of consciousness that evolve from the sequencing rules.

Visible pedagogy: pacing rules

32. Bernstein’s pacing rules relate to the expected rate of acquisition, [established through testing?], which is to say the rate at which learning is expected to occur. Pacing rules regulate the rhythm of the transmission [to persist with this transmission-reception-acquisition learning scheme].

As noted earlier, at the inset in section 2, the spatial and the temporal become thematic. Bernstein raises the issue of sites of acquisition, implicitly recognising that acquisition is part of a situation, that learning is situated. He suggests that there are two main sites of acquisition: the school and the home.

The main reason for this duality is that curricula cannot be acquired wholly by time spent at school. In turn, this is because the pacing of acquisition is such that time at school must be supplemented by official pedagogic time at home.

[33. Thus, all adults become ‘teachers’ in a narrow curricular sense; and the ‘scene of teaching’ is supplemented, both in terms of its spatiality (two sites) and its temporality (insufficient time to complete the curriculum wholly in the school classroom). 

What this supplementation calls for is a certain flexibility in the home, such that it can accommodate two distinct spatio-temporal frames: those places and times when the home operates as a school, under the regime of ‘official pedagogic time’, a curricular moment; and those places and times when it operates as a family home, under the regime of familial paternity and maternity. 

We might, if we so chose, adopt some concepts from science, technology and society studies here, such as framing, gathering and locating, to discuss these regimes which articulate spatial practices, temporal practices, intersubjective practices and intercorporeal practices. As Bernstein (2004: 205) says, “the home must provide a pedagogic context and control of the pupil to remain in that context”. While the importance of context, or rather the processes of contextualisation for flows of inter-action, is brought to the fore in this quote, we lack the means, in a structuralist account, to unfold its implications, to understand its dimensions. 

34. “There must be an official pedagogic discipline in the home” (Bernstein, 2004: 205). Thus, home-work requires text-book; and text-book requires con-text. Con-text, in this case, is an official pedagogic framing which holds together a grouping of people in a particular place to a particular regime of inter-action, with each other and with the appropriate learning resources (texts, books). 

It is a disciplinary regime, not so much of ‘the body’ as of the intercorporeal organisation of spatial, temporal and intersubjective practices.

Bernstein defines this official pedagogic frame as “a silent space”, i.e. using a phrase that is more often used of ‘the library’, or at least some form of traditional library regime, than of the traditional classroom, with its social dynamics of control and disruption, its uneasily-maintained order.

It is this “library-like” space which is absent from the homes of "the poor", not specified by Bernstein in this instance as the working class. However, this library-like space is not simply spatial. In being a library-like regime of silence, it is at once intercorporeal-intersubjective. It permits solitude, silence, absence of interaction in the midst of an interactive frame and absence of (intrusive, interruptive) speech, especially speech that derives from and belongs to other contexts than the pedagogic.
[It could be argued, to apply this line of thinking to a contemporary university context, that 'the library' provides the second site of the 'scene of teaching', or at least an other site of learning, a supplementary (primary) learning environment, for the student, displacing 'the home'.
This is complicated by the socialisation of the academic library's spatial arrangements, where it has become more cafe-like, on the one hand, and by the digitisation of the library's resources, its books, journals, newspapers and media collections, on the other hand. The academic librarian, whether defined as a 'liaison' librarian or a 'subject' librarian, given this characterisation, is faced with the task of constructing a pedagogic context in a sophisticated version of an internet cafe, while the overall development of the university as a network of learning environment falls into neglect.
This is, in part, because the overall learning environment has never been fully thought or theorised as such; and, in part, because pedagogic and library thinking have progressed without relation to one another, causing a disjunction, while the pedagogic regime in which classroom, library and online environments is addressed and developed only in a lop-sided fashion through a teacher-centred modality].
35. This ‘space’ does not so much, or only, require a degree of (bodily) spatial separation as intersubjective distancing, being left alone to get on with reading-learning-writing-acquisition, for a significant or defined period of time. In so doing, it permits the emergence of an other self, not positioned in the mediacy of the home, but in the mediacy of the classroom, and sustained by an intersubjective recognition of an acting-in-role in one context in the frame of an other context. 

It is this ability to sustain multiple contextualisation, multiple intersubjective framings, that enables the emergence of the “silent space” of the other of the pedagogic regime, a self that is itself, at this moment, “silent”, or a "silent voice", to draw out its paradoxical unrelated relatedness, a being of the class (room) in the midst of an enactment of (social) class. 

There is, in other words, no direct (spatial or temporal) link from class to class. The body is drawn, and re-drawn, across spatio-temporal practices to become a specific form of intersubjectivity.

36. Nor, Bernstein continues, is pedagogic time available for poor children. A socio-economy of temporal practices, a hierarchy of time-uses and time-values:
time may be used to work for money; and 
time may be used to play (in the street, another site for socialisation but not pedagogically framed learning.)
The ‘scene of teaching’, the pedagogical context, the pedagogical regime, while extending into the home as a supplementary site, nevertheless exists in tension with existing spatial resources, the spatial design of homes, in terms of the number of rooms, room dimensions, flexibility of space usage; it also exists in tension with existing temporal resources, for example, time assigned to work, the place of employment, which may, again, be the home, and time assigned to play, the ‘outside’, the ‘street’.

Through these tensions, as experienced by the student, by the child through the spatio-temporally enacted practices in which they are engaged, the ‘pupil’ learns to manage their curricular learning, their familial roles, the demands of employment, peer group relations, given the specificity of their own situation. 

What the poor might ‘lack’ is not so much simply a second site of learning in the home, but access to the processes of supplementarity, the processes of transition, whereby learning ceases to be acquisition and becomes instead practical, intellectual, participatory engagement.
[36a. Contrast this characterisation of the home/classroom relationship, written by Bernstein [in the UK] in the 1970s, to that portrayed by Marshall McLuhan, writing in [in the USA] the mid-1960s:
"There is a world of difference between the modern home environment of integrated electric information and the classroom. Today's television child is attuned to up-to-the-minute "adult" news — inflation, rioting, war, taxes, crime, bathing beauties — and is bewildered when he enters the nineteenth-century environment that still characterizes the educational establishment where information is scarce but ordered and structured by fragmented, classified patterns, subjects, and schedules. It is naturally an environment much like any factory set-up with its inventories and assembly lines." (McLuhan and Fiore, 2001: 18)
Where are we now, temporally, spatially, in terms of media, in terms of environment, in considering what the working class and the disadvantaged child 'lacks'? What scene are we in: the 'scene of production' - classroom as factory/fabrication, using the re-productive technology of the book and the transmissive vehicle of the teacher; 'the scene of media-tion'/'re-production'/fabrication - home as leisure facility, using broadcast technology, and the transmissive vehicle of the presenter/entertainer/actor? Does Bernstein mis-represent the home, while McLuhan mis-represents the classroom? What does it say about the differences in representation of home and the classroom between the UK and the USA at a similar 'period'? That they were not yet as 'syn-chronised' as they are now? (Are they syn-chronised now)]

37. A different kind of spatial practice is then brought into play by Bernstein, that of the ‘catchment area’, as another kind of spatial arrangement in terms of scale and aggregation, within which ‘the home’ operates.

Catchment area reflects the socio-demographics of British regionally and locality and its distinct modes of segregation. Bernstein notes that where the catchment area of the school draws upon a lower working-class community it is likely that the school will adopt, or have strategies thrust upon it, which affect both the content and the pacing of transmission.

The content, Bernstein continues, is likely to stress operational, local skills rather than the exploration of principles and general skills. The pacing is likely to be slowed. These statements relate, in part, to the earlier assertions concerning the proposed absence of supplementary sites of pedagogic learning for the working class, or rather lack of access to the process of supplementation by means of which learning proceeds to cross sites to extend the ‘scene of teaching’.

38. In this way, Bernstein (2004: 206) argues, “children’s consciousness is differentially and invidiously regulated according to their social class origin and their families’ official pedagogic practice.” This suggests a logic of place and a logic of consequence which is perhaps a little too tight and a little too rigid rigid to accommodate the vagaries of intercorporeal relations and their inter-relationships to geographic location, on the one hand, and to intersubjective relation, on the other hand. Here, a geography of space, a spatial practice of residential segregation, seems to determine both class and, on the basis of class, consciousness. 

In the case of a socially mixed catchment area, where children are drawn from a variety of class backgrounds, some schools, through a variety of strategies of stratification will stream or set pupils according to the school’s estimate of their content and/or the pacing. 

Bernstein dwells on the implications of strong pacing rules, affecting the deep sociolinguistic rules of classroom communicative competence. With strong pacing, time is at a premium. This places limitations on the examples, illustrations and narratives which facilitate acquisition. It also regulates what questions may be put, and how many; and what counts as an explanation, both its length and its form. 

Narrative and analytic; modes of discourse

40. Crucially, Bernstein argues, strong pacing tends to privilege teachers’ talk, while minimising pupils’ speech. Strong pacing, therefore, affects the rhythm of the communication. Rhythms of communication have different modalities. Specifically, Bernstein emphasises, the rhythm of narrative differs from the rhythm of analysis. More generally, Bernstein asserts, the dominant modality of human communication is that of narrative, not analysis. 

In addition to being able to provide the regime to support the “silent space” of an official pedagogic context, the space of concentration, of topical discipline and subjective discipline and their alignment in ‘writing’, some families also socialise their children into official pedagogic communication and the inner structure generated by its pacing rules. That inner structure points towards analysis rather than narrative communicative competences and towards non-linear rather than linear communicative competences, although this is perhaps to simplify what ‘narrative’ is capable of being and doing, conflating ‘story’, which is a linear and after-the-fact structure, with plot or storytelling, which may be, and often is, performatively non-linear. It is also to neglect, perhaps, those forms of analytic discourse that enact explanatory narratives. 

Bernstein argues that pacing rules affect not only the social relations of communication but also the inner logic of communication. 

41. Bernstein recaps his argument as follows.

(a) The strong pacing rule of the academic curriculum necessitates the existence of more than one site of acquisition. [We might be tempted to say that the ‘scene of teaching’ requires a supplementary scene which, reflected back on the ‘primary’ scene, allows us to recognise that it is already supplementary, already multiply mediated, already pluralised].

(b) The strong pacing rule creates a particular form or modality of discourse-communication that privileges analysis over everyday narrative. 

(c) In this structure, children of the disadvantaged classes (the working class, the poor, ethnic minorities) are doubly disadvantaged:

there is no supplementary scene of teaching, voiding also the ‘primary’ scene;
their orientation to language is narrative not analytic, affecting both the mode of discourse and the content of discourse.

Thus, Bernstein resins, the pacing rule of the transmission acts selectively on those who can acquire the school’s dominate pedagogic code which, for Bernstein, is a social class-based principle of selection.

Economies of transmission

42. The visible pedagogy of the school is cheap to transmit because it is subsidised, and supplemented, by the middle-class family at the cost of the alienation and failure of children of the disadvantage classes and groups. 

The pacing rule, Bernstein argues, acts selectively on those who can acquire the dominant pedagogic code of the school. It does so, contends Bernstein, in part, through the distributive consequences of the visible pedagogy’s requirement of supplementary sites outside the classroom and, in part, through its regulation of the deep structure of sociolinguistic competences. 

With strong pacing, Bernstein suggests, we may find a lexical pedagogical code, where one-word answers or short sentences, relaying individual facts, skills or operations may be typical of the school class of marginal-lower working-class pupils. Conversely, in the school class of middle-class children, with strong pacing a syntactic pedagogic code relaying relationships, processes and connections may be more typical. 

Pacing rules, in regulating the economy of the transmission, thus become the nexus of the material, discursive and social base of transmission. 

Nevertheless, Bernstein points out, it is possible to create a visible pedagogy which would weaken the relation between social class and educational achievement. This would require a relaxation of the framing of a visible pedagogy that would, in turn, raise the cost of transmission as we’ll as having implications for teacher training and school management. 

43. In sum, to return to Bernstein’s initial schema, what is of interest is the bias in the pedagogic practice understood as cultural relay or social form that acts selectively upon those who can acquire what is relayed. It is a separate question to address the cultural biases, including social class biases, of the instructional contents of pedagogic practices, the values these presuppose, and the standards of conduct, character and manner which form the contents of the school’s regulative discourse. 

Invisible pedagogy, space assumptions

44. In adopting a different approach to the analysis of invisible pedagogies, Bernstein distinguished between economic and symbolic assumptions. Bernstein highlights the relatively high material economic costs of the space of an invisible pedagogy, compared to those of a visible pedagogy. This is because an invisible pedagogy presupposes considerable freedom of movement (to enable kinaesthetic, sensor-motor learning) on the part of the child. In the extended ‘scene of teaching’, involving school and home, Bernstein argues that the spatial requirements of an invisible pedagogy are too great in situations where there are many family members confined to a small space, as is the case for many working class and lower working class families, including disadvantaged families of minority ethnic groups. 

The (economic) spatial requirements of an invisible pedagogy are more likely to be satisfied in the case of middle-class families. 

In the context of symbolic assumptions, Bernstein notes that the rules whereby space is constructed, marked and ordered contain implicit cognitive and social messages.
[Interestingly, there is no analytic vocabulary to develop these ‘symbolic’ insights, no conceptions of spatial practices in which to situate them, no conception of the inter-relationships among spatial practices, temporal practices, material practices and media practices as social practices; no sense of '-chronies', syn- or otherwise.]


Brown, C.C. (2014). Intermedial being. PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art, 106, pp.88–93.

McLuhan, M. and Fiore, Q. (2001). The Medium is the massage: an inventory of effects, Corte Madeira, CA: Gingko Press.