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NARRATIVES AND PRACTICES OF GOVERNMENTALITY: THE EDUCATOR’S PERSPECTIVE OF STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES

ABSTRACT:

This article analyzes the narratives of educators from a public school in the North Coast region of Rio Grande do Sul about the school inclusion processes of students with disabilities. Employing the Foucauldian concept of governmentality as an analytical tool, the study questioned how students with disabilities as subjects are being produced. The study was based on the narratives of nine educators working in a classroom in a primary school. The narratives are pertinent to the relations that can be established from the management techniques of these subjects in practices of governmentality. The following documents were analyzed: the referral forms recommending students with disabilities be moved to the specialized educational service (AEE), evaluation instruments (descriptive opinions) of students with disabilities enrolled in the research institution, and semi-structured interviews with the teachers of those students. The results demonstrate the effectiveness of inclusive actions in schools during the strengthening of the imperative of inclusion, reinforcing the school institution that operates as a machinery to the governmentalized state, and disseminating behaviors sought by its teachers.

Keywords:
Specialized educational attendance; Narratives; Governmentality

RESUMO:

Este trabalho analisa as narrativas de docentes originadas em uma escola pública da região Litoral Norte do Rio Grande do Sul, sobre processos de inclusão escolar de alunos com deficiência. Empregando o conceito foucaultiano de governamentalidade como ferramenta metodológica, questionou-se como está sendo produzido o sujeito aluno com deficiência, a partir das narrativas de nove docentes atuantes em sala de aula, no Ensino fundamental, e que relações podem ser estabelecidas com as técnicas de condução desses sujeitos, enquanto práticas de governamentalidade. Foram analisados formulários de encaminhamento dos alunos com deficiência ao atendimento educacional especializado (AEE); instrumentos avaliativos (pareceres descritivos) dos alunos com deficiência matriculados na instituição pesquisada, e entrevistas semiestruturadas com os docentes daqueles alunos. Evidencia-se a efetivação das ações inclusivas na escola, no fortalecimento do imperativo da inclusão, reforçando a instituição escolar que opera como uma maquinaria a serviço do Estado governamentalizado, disseminando condutas almejadas por seus docentes.

Palavras-chave:
Atendimento educacional especializado; Narrativas; Governamentalidade

INTRODUCTION

In the last few decades, school inclusion has become an imperative part of Brazilian public educational policies, with the justification that this ensures the equal right of school for all. The National Education Plan (PNE), which establishes the guidelines of Brazilian education for the decade from 2014-2024, presents in its fourth goal the following guideline:

To universalize access to basic education and specialized educational services from the age of four to seventeen years for people with disabilities, pervasive developmental disorders, and high skills or giftedness, preferably in the regular educational network, with the guarantee of an inclusive educational system; multifunctional resource rooms; specialized classes, schools, or services, provided publicly or from an insurance plan. (BRASIL, 2014BRASIL. Ministério da Educação. Plano Nacional de Educação 2014-2024. Lei nº 13.005, de 25 de junho de 2014, que aprova o Plano Nacional de Educação (PNE) e dá outras providências. Brasília: Edições Câmara, 2014., p. 55)

This plan demonstrates the concern of the governmentalized state with the education of its population of students with disabilities. It is understood that the importance of inclusion and the changes to the concept of people living with disabilities are not natural circumstances of the evolution of society, but something that must be thought about and established through acts of governance and behavior control.

According to Mazzota (2011), the concern with the education of people with disabilities first developed in Europe in the eighteenth century in the context of compulsory school—a time when modern society was at the peak of its quest for the standardization of the masses. According to Sardagna (2013), creating standards for everyone to be part of these schools brought out the problems related to the education of people with disabilities, and so, services and institutions must be created for those who until then had only been the target of medical attention. These events contextualize the emergence of specific education for people with disabilities.

In the historical context of the beginning of the twentieth century, corrective pedagogies emerged (VARELA, 1996VARELA, Julia. Categorias espaço-temporais e socialização escolar: do individualismo ao narcisismo. In: COSTA, Marisa V. (org.). Escola Básica na virada do século. São Paulo: Cortez, 1996.) that resemble Foucault’s individual to be corrected (2002FOUCAULT, Michel. Os anormais. 2ª ed. São Paulo: Martins Fontes, 2002.). This was based on the correction of the “abnormal,” which was supported by compulsory education for individuals with disabilities. Medical science and its specialties, together with the pedagogy of the time, structured these corrections in an institutionalized way (school and family) for the “abnormal” subjects.

Since they ceased to be killed, denied access to the society of the middle ages, or ceased to be considered the other, the “abnormal”—those with “deficient otherness,” as Skliar points out (2003SKLIAR, Carlos B. Pedagogia (improvável) da diferença: e se o outro não estivesse aí? Trad. Giane Lessa. Rio de Janeiro: DP&A, 2003.)—have been persuaded to be managed in order to achieve maximum normality or sameness, suffering the interventions of the norm that identified, classified, controlled, and attributed them a due place. These events marked them with a “deficient identity,” which is uncomfortable, lacking, curious, and negative.

Moreover, these events also created the conditions for the invention of disability and its practices to be gradually established. In this context, lies the state’s concerns about bringing about subtle modifications in the way they lead the masses, and (re)conducting the way people with disabilities are seen over time. Foucault (2001FOUCAULT, Michel. Governamentalidade. In: MACHADO, Roberto (org.). Microfísica do poder. 16ª ed. Rio de Janeiro: Graal, 2001. p. 277-293.) points out that between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries, a new way of governing the population developed that not only punctuated the religious or monarchical question but was also something more cunning and structured (the rationality that was named “the art of ruling”).

According to Foucault (2001FOUCAULT, Michel. Governamentalidade. In: MACHADO, Roberto (org.). Microfísica do poder. 16ª ed. Rio de Janeiro: Graal, 2001. p. 277-293.), the art of governing and the way people are steered to do what the government wants them to do leads us to understand the tactics and strategies that are used for this purpose. Governmentality is explained by Foucault (2001) as a form of power exercised by different state apparatus (for example, institutions and schools), that are directed at the political economy and utilization of security devices as a strategy of the government.

The interest in the population—to control it, watch it and foresee the possible misfortunes that could occur, as well as to intervene so that certain social phenomena could be controlled—was denominated by Foucault (2008FOUCAULT, Michel. Nascimento da biopolítica. São Paulo: Martins Fontes, 2008.) as biopolitics: the technology of the governmentalized power that appears in the eighteenth century, with a focus on the administration of bodies and the management of human life.

The emergence of inclusion in schools in Brazil is a milestone in the 1990s, derived from public policies that first appeared in the international context and also became laws at the Brazilian state level (BRASIL, 1996). Mazzota (2011) points out that Law nº 8.069, the Child and Adolescent Statute of 1990, was “an important path” regarding the rights of students with disabilities, since what existed until then were only vague “statements” without exercising the legality of certain rights.

Including individuals who until then were subject to innumerable school integration attempts, did not occur naturally, nor was it the result of the benevolent gaze of those who wanted to use the law as a device of governance.1 1 The term governance was proposed by Veiga-Neto (2005) to solve the double meaning in the translation of the word government, present in the works of Michel Foucault. It suggests that the term governance should be used when it is referring to the act or action of governing and directing these processes. It was a political process resulting from the struggles and tensions of social representation groups that defend the rights of persons with disabilities, but also from international control bodies, through world declarations and conventions.

It is questionable whether these practices that will little by little, prepare the conditions for the inclusion of students with disabilities in schools to appear as laws in contemporary public educational policies, have as a justification the practices and human relations necessary to secure the equal right of school for all.

The narratives that perceive the idea of benevolent inclusion are associated with the guidelines within public educational policies, which emerge in the form of decrees and laws for school inclusion. Foucault (2001FOUCAULT, Michel. Governamentalidade. In: MACHADO, Roberto (org.). Microfísica do poder. 16ª ed. Rio de Janeiro: Graal, 2001. p. 277-293., p. 284) explains that “in the case of government theory, it is not a question of imposing laws on men, but of disposing things, that is, using more tactics than laws, or using the laws as tactics as much as they can.” Involved in the devices of governmentality are people with disabilities, toward whom the inclusion policies are directed, who cannot be left out of the state’s function of maintaining and controlling individuals and the economy.

In this context, Foucault’s concept of governmentality is relevant as a tool to analyze the narratives of the educators in a public basic education institution, located in a small municipality of the north coast region of Rio Grande do Sul, in which the conceptual fields of governmentality and narratives intersect.

In this perspective, we sought to understand how the students with disabilities are being produced, based on the narratives of the educators in the classroom and what relations are established from the behavior control techniques used with these students as practices of governmentality.

As materials for analysis, the study used: a) referral forms, b) evaluation tools (descriptive opinions from interviews) of students with disabilities implemented in the Multifunctional Resource Room (MRR) where the specialized educational services are offered (AEE), and c) semi-structured interviews with the teachers who referred their students with disabilities to the AEE. For this, an interview script was developed that helped to conduct these conversations.

The data generated from the documents and interviews were labeled narratives, which were understood not as truths, but as a form of expression of the experiences lived by the teachers participating in the research. According to Nicolazzi (2004NICOLAZZI, Fernando. A narrativa da experiência em Foucault e Thompson. Anos 90. Porto Alegre, v. 11, n. 19/20, p. 101-138, jan/dez. 2004. Disponível em: <Disponível em: http://seer.ufrgs.br/anos90/article/viewFile/6353/3804 > Acesso em: 21 mai. 2017.
http://seer.ufrgs.br/anos90/article/view...
), the narrative does not generate conclusions but indicates directions.

Based on the narratives of the educators, it was possible to understand the movements and conceptions that determined how students with disabilities were understood, the logic of the school inclusion imperatives in the constitution, and the governmentality practices evident in these movements. When considering narratives, it is was important to consider that:

(...) the narrative deals with what can never be verified, calculated, and allocated in statistical graphs—which is as impossible to be confirmed as it is to emanate from a self who is very much respected and declared. It is narrated, therefore, what is impossible to objectify. (MIZOGUCHI, 2015MIZOGUCHI, Danichi Hausen. Experiência e narrativa: artefatos políticos de pesquisa. ECOS, Rio de Janeiro, v. 5, n. 2, p. 201-208, agosto/dez. 2015. Disponível em: <Disponível em: http://www.uff.br/periodicoshumanas/index.php/ecos/article/view/1352/1206 > Acesso em: 21 de junho. 2017.
http://www.uff.br/periodicoshumanas/inde...
, p. 6)

Nine educators who worked in the classroom with students with disabilities were interviewed, of which, three educators were working in the initial years of elementary education, and six were working with classes in their final years. The characteristics of the semi-structured interview focus on the possibility of questioning within a structure of questions that are not set, giving the researcher, according to Marconi and Lakatos (2002MARCONI, Maria de Andrade; LAKATOS, Eva Maria. Técnicas de Pesquisa: planejamento e execução de pesquisas, amostragens e técnicas de pesquisas, elaboração, análise e interpretação de dados. 5ª ed. São Paulo: Atlas, 2002.), the freedom to examine the different responses provided by the interviewee.

The research institution is located in a neighborhood that has a low-income population, made up of residents who work in commerce or construction. The institution has 469 enrolled students, including nine students with disabilities and five under inquiry. It is composed of 34 educators, who are both permanent and contracted, and who are divided among the initial and the final years of elementary education.

The practices identified by the narratives were contextualized and analyzed and related to the context of biopolitics, in which inclusive processes are understood as an exercise of power that works as the strategies of the government.

THE CONCEPTUAL FIELD: THEORETICAL-METHODOLOGICAL ASSUMPTIONS

The AEE as a support service for inclusion

When analyzing the legal provisions that ensure access for students with disabilities to the regular educational network, we find a field full of decrees, opinions, technical notes, and laws that have the purpose of regulating and guiding the educational networks regarding specialized educational services. These should be offered to students with disabilities, pervasive developmental disorders, and giftedness within the school environment in Multifunctional Resource Rooms (MRR).

The inclusive policy, inserted in a context of a school inclusion law, regulates students with disabilities, who are or not in the regular educational network, and manages the position occupied by these students, which is configured within the movement of human life management in the perspective of biopolitics.

The inclusive policy laws are also understood to be related to devices that regulate life and practices within schools, which in turn regulates students with disabilities in general. Biopolitics focuses on the population and the regulation of life and bodies—individual bodies that can be manipulated, which are subject to disciplinary regulation through biopower (FOUCAULT, 2008FOUCAULT, Michel. Nascimento da biopolítica. São Paulo: Martins Fontes, 2008.).

Power over bodies takes two dimensions, which as Foucault (1999FOUCAULT, Michel. História da sexualidade 1: a vontade de saber. 13ª ed. Rio de Janeiro: Graal , 1999.) points out, at first (in the eighteenth century), appeared to be separated. In this way, biopower first appears as a technique of disciplinary power invested in the body of the governments’ subjects. In the second instance, this interest turns to the bodies of the population and the possible regulations of global life.

Foucault’s concept of biopolitics is also important for relating inclusive policies as practices under the laws of school inclusion, sharing with Lopes (2009LOPES, Maura Corsini. Inclusão como prática de governamentalidade. In: LOPES, Maura Corsini; HATTGE, Morgana Domênica. (org.). Inclusão escolar: conjunto de práticas que governam. Belo Horizonte: Autêntica , 2009. p. 107-131., p. 111) the idea that “inclusion through school, social, care and work inclusion policies, works as a biopolitical device in the service of population security.”

Understanding the practices of school inclusion as a biopolitical safety device that regulates the population in which laws are seen as mechanisms of the device, brings out the concept of practice according to Foucault, as this term presents different perspectives of understanding. Practices regulate and organize what subjects are, and inserted into the historical moment that constitutes them, they exercise the forms of the rationality of what subjects do.

According to Castro (2009CASTRO, Edgardo. Vocabulário de Foucault: um percurso pelos seus temas, conceitos e autores. Tradução de Ingrid Muller Xavier; revisão técnica de Alfredo Veiga-Neto e Walter Omar Kohan. Belo Horizonte: Autêntica, 2009.), the concept of practice evident in the work of Foucault refers to the set of rules—the rationality given in a given time and space—that define the conditions of exercise of what is required to be enunciated, creating mechanisms necessary to produce us and guide our behavior.

Legislation, as a device that ensures inclusive practices, makes it possible to recognize in the guidelines for educational systems, especially in the case of the present study, the specialized educational service, and understand them as support for inclusion. The National Policy on Special Education in the Perspective of Inclusive Education, 2008, emphasizes:

The specialized educational service identifies, elaborates, and organizes pedagogical and accessibility resources that eliminate the barriers for the full participation of students, considering their specific needs. The activities developed in the specialized educational services differ from those carried out in the common classroom, which are not a substitute for schooling. This service complements and/or supplements the training of students focusing on autonomy and independence in and outside of the school (BRASIL, 2008BRASIL. Ministério da Educação. Política Nacional de Educação Especial na Perspectiva da Educação Inclusiva. Brasília: MEC/SEESP, 2008. Disponível em: <Disponível em: http://portal.mec.gov.br >. Acesso em: 25 mai. 2017.
http://portal.mec.gov.br...
, p. 16).

The legal provisions, based on this Policy, are formulated and reformulated with the purpose of ensuring access for and permanence of students with disabilities, pervasive developmental disorders, and giftedness in regular education and outside of school hours from the specialized educational services. According to Article 1 of the AEE Operational Guidelines, provided in the Resolution 4/2009:

[...] education systems should enroll students with disabilities, pervasive developmental disorders, and giftedness in the regular classes of regular education and the Specialized Educational Services (AEE), offered in multifunctional resource rooms or in Specialized Educational Service centers of the public network or community, religious, or non-profit philanthropic institutions (BRASIL, 2009).

The aforementioned Resolution further states, in Article 5, that the AEE should be offered as a priority in the Multifunctional Resource Room of the school itself or in another regular schools outside of school hours, and not by replacing regular classes (BRASIL, 2009BRASIL. Ministério da Educação. Resolução nº 4, de 2 de outubro de 2009. Institui Diretrizes Operacionais para o Atendimento Educacional Especializado na Educação Básica, modalidade Educação Especial. Brasília, 2009.). Following the chronology of the emergence of school inclusion and defining the AEE as a support service within the school, we also have Decree 7611/2011, which provides for specialized educational services, recommending in Article 1, items V and VI:

(...) V - provision of necessary support within the general educational system with the purpose to facilitate effective education; VI - adoption of individualized and effective support measures in environments that maximize academic and social development in accordance with the goal of full inclusion (BRASIL, 2011BRASIL. Ministério da Educação. Decreto 7.611, de 17 de novembro de 2011. Dispõe sobre a educação especial, o atendimento educacional especializado e dá outras providências. Brasília, 2011.).

Analyzing Decree 7611/2011, Article 2 establishes that the AEE should be focused on reducing the barriers imposed within regular education institutions to the education of students with disabilities, pervasive developmental disorders, and giftedness. However, in order for the presence of students with disabilities in the AEE to be effective, they need to be referred by the teacher in the classroom. When analyzing the attributions of educators in the specialized educational service, this tactic is evident in the legislation:

Art. 13. The following are attributions of teachers in the Specialized Educational Service: I - to identify, elaborate, produce, and organize services, pedagogical and accessibility resources, and strategies, considering the specific needs of the target Special Education group/students; II - to elaborate and implement a Specialized Educational Assistance Plan, evaluating the functionality and applicability of pedagogical and accessibility resources; III - to organize the type and frequency of assistance to the students in the Multifunctional Resource Room; IV - to monitor the functionality and applicability of pedagogical and accessibility resources in the regular classroom of regular education, as well as in other school environments; V - to establish partnerships in intersectoral areas in the elaboration of strategies and the availability of accessibility resources; VI - to guide teachers and families about the pedagogical and accessibility resources used by the students; VII - to teach and use assistive technology in order to expand the functional abilities of the students, promoting autonomy and participation; VIII - to establish articulation with the teachers of the regular classroom, focusing at the availability of services, pedagogical and accessibility resources and strategies that promote the participation of students in school activities (BRASIL, 2009BRASIL. Ministério da Educação. Resolução nº 4, de 2 de outubro de 2009. Institui Diretrizes Operacionais para o Atendimento Educacional Especializado na Educação Básica, modalidade Educação Especial. Brasília, 2009., p. 3)

The identification of students with disabilities by specialized education teachers is through referrals, which include a detailed description of the student as observed by the teacher in the classroom, such as language, cognitive development/learning, psychomotor development, sociability/affectivity, and social/family environment. The referral documents were listed as relevant to the study, as they produce a non-learner student, which differs from the norm established in that space/time and that is prioritized by the teacher.

The legislation given here presents AEE as a service to support school inclusion but also is extended to other forms of support to achieve the goals of these biopolitical policies. Among the forms of support demonstrated in the legislation are the discussions among the teachers in the Multifunctional Resource Room and the teachers in the classroom; the provision of pedagogical resources, strategies, and guidelines for the effective participation of students in the classroom; or the referral of students to the AEE by completing the referral forms.

In order to understand how students with disabilities, as subjects, have been produced from the narratives of classroom educators, these AEE referral forms were analyzed as an integral part of the material surveyed, as they present the formal way in which the classroom educator describes the different aspects of students with disabilities. Therefore, the techniques used by the governmentalized state to implement mass education were analyzed in the processes of school inclusion.

GOVERNMENTALITY POLICIES IN BIOPOLITICS

A synthetic view of governing, controlling, and surveilling, as Foucault explains (2001FOUCAULT, Michel. Governamentalidade. In: MACHADO, Roberto (org.). Microfísica do poder. 16ª ed. Rio de Janeiro: Graal, 2001. p. 277-293., p. 281), is “when the state is well governed, parents know how to govern their families, their goods, their assets and so the individuals behave as they should.”

This historical contribution of Foucault (2001FOUCAULT, Michel. Governamentalidade. In: MACHADO, Roberto (org.). Microfísica do poder. 16ª ed. Rio de Janeiro: Graal, 2001. p. 277-293.) is necessary to understand how the vision of governing and being governed came about. This changed from the concern with territory and property in the middle ages, moving towards the management of people and their relation to the consumption/subsistence, territory, and property in the sixteenth century.

Since then, the family has been in the privileged view of government, going through different problematizations, management, and placements in the architecture of the art of governing, but obtaining its strategic place with the discovery that the population must be the target audience of the devices of governmentality, as explained by Foucault (2001FOUCAULT, Michel. Governamentalidade. In: MACHADO, Roberto (org.). Microfísica do poder. 16ª ed. Rio de Janeiro: Graal, 2001. p. 277-293.).

In this sense, the family is understood to have become an instrument of maneuverability, no longer seen as the main instrument, but now with a privileged place, since it is from the family that interventions are applied to the population:

Therefore, the population appears more as an end and an instrument of the government than as the force of the sovereign; the population appears as a subject of needs, aspirations, but also as objects in the hands of the government; as conscious of what they want before the government and unconscious about what the government wants them to do (FOUCAULT, 2001FOUCAULT, Michel. Governamentalidade. In: MACHADO, Roberto (org.). Microfísica do poder. 16ª ed. Rio de Janeiro: Graal, 2001. p. 277-293., p. 289).

As a way of managing the population, with tactics and strategies that are used for this purpose, governmentality is explained by Foucault in the following way:

1 - A group set by institutions, procedures, analyses and reflections, and calculations and tactics that allow the exercise of this very specific and complex form of power, which has the population as a target, in a main way by knowing the political economy and by essential technical instruments like the security devices.

2 - The tendency that throughout the West has incessantly led for a long time, to the preeminence of this kind of power, which can be called government, over all others—sovereignty, discipline, etc.—which led to the development of a series of specific government apparatus and a set of knowledge.

3 - The result of the process by which the state of justice of the Middle Ages, which became the administrative state in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, was gradually governmentalized. (FOUCAULT, 2001FOUCAULT, Michel. Governamentalidade. In: MACHADO, Roberto (org.). Microfísica do poder. 16ª ed. Rio de Janeiro: Graal, 2001. p. 277-293., p. 291-292)

This article uses more specifically, the first item in Foucault’s definition of governmentality, without however, disregarding the others, as the object being studied is implicated by the institutions, techniques, and regulations, and permeated by relations of knowledge-power aimed at the population (in the case of this analysis, people with disabilities).

According to Foucault (1999FOUCAULT, Michel. História da sexualidade 1: a vontade de saber. 13ª ed. Rio de Janeiro: Graal , 1999.), from the seventeenth century, two different forms of management of human life and power over life appear. The first focuses on the individual, on the docile body, and the interest in its economic utility, ensured by the procedures of disciplinary power. The second appears in the eighteenth century and is, according to Foucault:

(...) centered on the body-species, on the body pierced by the mechanics of the living being and as a support for biological processes: proliferation, births and mortality, health status, life span, longevity, with all the conditions that can make them vary; these processes are assumed through a whole series of interventions and regulatory controls: a biopolitics of the population. (FOUCAULT, 1999FOUCAULT, Michel. História da sexualidade 1: a vontade de saber. 13ª ed. Rio de Janeiro: Graal , 1999., p. 131 - bold by the author)

This new way of managing life, centered at first on the individual body and later on the mass population, as Foucault (1999FOUCAULT, Michel. História da sexualidade 1: a vontade de saber. 13ª ed. Rio de Janeiro: Graal , 1999.) discusses, configures the changes experienced by individuals with disabilities: from death of the will of the sovereign to the interest of the disciplinary powers and those who control the mass population.

Biopolitics emerges as global management of life and so also manages people with disabilities, who, because of the imperative of school inclusion, cannot remain outside the neoliberal game.2 2 It is a question of understanding both liberalism and neoliberalism as a set of practices that constitute forms of life increasingly driven to market principles and self-reflection, in which teaching/learning processes must be permanent. The market is understood as a way of defining and limiting government actions, causing it to stand and justify itself before the population and before the public that are formed within it (LOPES, 2009, p. 108). The school institution assumes an important role in the disciplinary power of the body, as a space that makes it docile, shapes it, and makes it skillful, while at the same time potentializing the action of the biopower.

It is a power that focuses on the collective of the subjects (for their safety), in creating regulatory controls, such as inclusive policies and their unfolding—that is, their strategies, such as the support services and articulations developed for this that include the referrals of students to the AEE.

Understanding the school institution as the machinery of the governmentalized state, which disseminates the management of the governance of the subjects governed by it, the analysis of the referrals to the Multifunctional Resource Room becomes relevant. The analysis material consists of records and narratives from the participating teachers, from the comparison of the students in the classroom and their learning differentiation, exclusion, homogenization, and the presentation of the students with disabilities to the support service.

The biopower operates in the administration of the bodies, making the desired subject disciplined and docile, and subjected to governmentality practices. Foucault (1987FOUCAULT, Michel. Vigiar e punir: nascimento da prisão. 20ª ed. Petrópolis: Vozes, 1987. , p. 164) emphasizes that “these methods that allow the meticulous control of the operations of the body, which perform the constant subjection of its forces and impose a relation of docility-utility, are what we can call disciplines.” This notion of disciplinary power focusing on the individual is related to the notion of biopower focusing on the population.

According to Canguilhem (2002CANGUILHEM, Georgs. O normal e o patológico. 5ª ed. Rio de Janeiro: Forense Universitária, 2002., p. 67), “the constants are presented with an average frequency, and an average value in a given group, which gives them the value of normal, and this normal is the real expression of a normativity.” The normalization emerges from the collective of the subjects: it is not previously thought but is produced when statistical data, for example, create a standard that is considered normal. For Canguilhem (p. 63), “a specific normal form would be the product of normalization between functions and organs, in which synthetic harmony is not freely offered but achieved under defined conditions.”

In the biopower logic, the teachers that potentiate the normalizing processes also find themselves crossed by the tactics of governmentality. In this sense, by acting in the midst of the practices that direct the processes, they respond to the plot of the norm that is created in the discursive structure, strengthening the web of power games. In this scenario, the school assumes an important role as the governing machinery of the subjects. The referrals of these students reinforce the standards established by the neoliberal logic and are aligned with the state for the governance practices of both the students as subjects and the other teachers at the school institution.

The neoliberal rationality operates different political and economic ideas that induce people’s desire to stay in the game using competitiveness. As mentioned by Rech (2013RECH, Tatiana Luiza. A inclusão educacional como estratégia biopolítica In: FABRIS, Eli Henn; KLEIN, Rejane Ramos. (org.). Inclusão e biopolítica. Belo Horizonte: Autêntica, 2013. p. 25-45.), students who are affected by inclusion policies start to take on new identities, focusing on the production and the sense of usefulness that they assume toward the society in which they live. The practices of management control, existing between teachers and students, reinforce this feeling of utility and productivity since these students begin to respond to the relations of knowledge-power that establish the norms and the average.

The analysis of the referrals to the Multifunctional Resource Room, as well as the evaluation tools and transcripts of the interviews, allowed the composition of the following analytical axes, which are described and analyzed in the next section: AEE as a normalizing practice and inclusive policy for students with disabilities, and control and regulation of students’ behaviors.

GOVERNMENTALITY PRACTICES FROM THE NARRATIVES ON STUDENTS SENT TO THE AEE

The sample of teachers selected for the semi-structured interview conformed to the criterion as follows: they had worked in the classroom in the participating institution in 2015 and had sent some students to the AEE. This criterion made it possible to collect the necessary documents for the study, as well as access the relevant data for a full school year. The interviewed teachers worked in the initial and final years of elementary education in the classroom and had students with disabilities in the class in which they taught.

The analyzed documents included written referrals describing the aspects related to the development of students with disabilities observed by the classroom teacher (the document delivered to the teacher who works in the Multifunctional Resource Room by the classroom teachers), and the pedagogical opinions from the evaluation tool that are issued at the end of each quarter and are obligated by law as a way to evaluate the learning of the students with disabilities. These went beyond the semi-structured interview.

The axes were organized after an analysis of the documents, with the analyzed data being recurrent on the emphasis of the narratives on behavior and learning. The focus on behavior may be related to the normalizing practices mobilized by school support services, such as the AEE. However, the narratives in the learning axis denote an intention of making the students with disabilities productive, as a response to the demands of the tactics of governance that operate in the school practices made by the government.

In order to preserve the anonymity of the interviewees, pseudonyms were used to identify them in the quotations from their interviews.3 3 The excerpts from the narratives will be in italics to differentiate them from the citations. There were nine teachers in total: three from the initial years and six from the final years of elementary school. The teachers of the initial years were named as follows: (a) first year - Maria, (b) second year - Luiza, and (c) fourth year - Aurea. The teachers of the final years, who work from the sixth to the ninth grade, were named John, Roberto, Vania, Veronica, Karen, and Antonia.

The interview was granted in 2016; however, the participants reported their practices from 2015. For the interview information, the data were identified with the pseudonym of the participant, followed by the year, 2016; when referring to the narratives of the documents, the data were identified with the pseudonym, followed by the year, 2015.

THE AEE AS A NORMALIZING PRACTICE

When analyzing the opinions, the referral forms, and the transcript of the semi-structured interviews on the students with disabilities enrolled in the participating institution in 2015, it was possible to verify and locate the data in two ways: learning and behavior (disciplinary control of the body). This recurrence appears in the collected data, in which the norm is behavioral and focused on the learner student.

According to Lopes (2009LOPES, Maura Corsini. Inclusão como prática de governamentalidade. In: LOPES, Maura Corsini; HATTGE, Morgana Domênica. (org.). Inclusão escolar: conjunto de práticas que governam. Belo Horizonte: Autêntica , 2009. p. 107-131.), the norm is part of a model that needs to be followed, resulting in the homogenization and minimization of what is different. The teacher Maria (2015) presented the following description of a student in a referral form to the AEE regarding behavioral issues: “the student cannot concentrate and pay attention; he starts the activities but does not persevere” (MARIA, 2015).

During the semi-structured interview, Karen (2016), when questioned about the factors analyzed by the teacher when referring a student to the AEE, listed, among other things, the following:

(...)I also pay attention to the students who have difficulties following disciplinary norms, because the school needs these norms for good interaction, or else, the teacher cannot organize the classes or the students (KAREN, 2016 - bold by the author).

The concerns with behavioral issues were also present in the evaluation tools (opinions), as teacher Antonia (2015) puts it in her description of the student. She emphasized that “in the moments when we are watching movies, listening to stories, or explaining new material, the student is uneasy , but talking to them soon calms down the student (ANTONIA, 2015 - bold by the author).

The disciplinary power of the body appeared in the narratives of the uneasy student, who does not accept orders — or even the student who does not perform the proposed activities. This information pointed to students who deviate from the behavioral norm established for docile bodies; as Foucault (1999FOUCAULT, Michel. História da sexualidade 1: a vontade de saber. 13ª ed. Rio de Janeiro: Graal , 1999.) puts it, students who do not allow themselves to be submitted, used, or perfected.

The school institution operates on the disciplinary logic of the bodies, so that the students from a young age are submitted to behave according to the model presented by the teacher: quiet, seated, only responding when the teacher allows them to speak, accepting the activities that are imposed on them, and not questioning the teacher. The practice of disciplinary power attempts to homogenize and bring students with disabilities into the neoliberal game, facilitating the process of governance exercised by the teacher.

The norm appeared interjected into the description of the teachers when they referred to a student with a disability. For this analysis, the logic used was that educational inclusion is a security device that regulates the population (in this case, the population of students with disabilities), and the teachers position themselves both as agents of disciplinary power and as agents that use biopower tactics.

The opinions presented students who had learning disabilities, lacked knowledge, and needed to be accountable for what they had learned. The documents that were analyzed informed these students that their debt continued to grow, and gained greater interest and attention in the classroom. According to Fabris (2009FABRIS, Elí Henn. A produção do aluno nos pareceres descritivos: mecanismos de normalização em ação. In: LOPES, Maura Corsini; HATTGE, Morgana Domênica. (org.). Inclusão escolar: conjunto de práticas que governam. Belo Horizonte: Autêntica, 2009. p. 51-69.), students with disabilities became indebted to the process of schooling, confined and controlled, but without concrete limits.

In one of the referral forms, Aurea (2015) made the following report:

(...) the student does not copy and does not perform the activities in the classroom, does not show interest in even the simplest and most differentiated activities,making it difficult to observe his cognitive development and learning (AUREA, 2015 - bold by the author).

The same narrative was found in an evaluation tool, in which a teacher, Vania (2015), described the student’s learning as follows:

(...) the student can copy simple words, but does not recognize letters and cannot read letters or words. Sometimes he recognizes the letters that make up his name, tries to write without copying from somewhere else, but writes the letters disorderly, except for the initial and final letters. He spells vowels but still has difficulty recognizing the letters . He counts up to ten but does not establish the number/numeral relations (VANIA, 2015 - bold by the author).

The analysis of the transcript of the interview with Karen (2016) demonstrated the same concern with the student learning gap, emphasizing that “when I refer students to AEE, it is because I have already observed in the classroom their difficulty in concentration and learning. I refer students who cannot retain knowledge (KAREN, 2016 - bold by the author).

Learning was present in the narratives, and they listed what the student learned and what they could not accomplish. There was still information about the need for the assistant teacher to be present in the activities, implying that the student is only capable of producing knowledge through another person.

Karen (2015) reported the following situation regarding the activities in the referral form to the AEE: “the student does not have independence in the execution of the tasks, and he must be supervised” (KAREN, 2015).

The transcript of the interview with Aurea (2016) presented the importance of the assistant teacher in the classroom. When asked about support services at the school, she answered:

(...) the school has the support services of the multifunctional room, the pedagogical workshop, and the assistants who stay with the child in the room.Without them(the assistant teachers),it would not be possible to work with that student. They help a lot when you have an inclusive student in the classroom (AUREA, 2016 - bold by the author).

Antonia (2015) described the student in the evaluation tool (opinion), regarding the accomplishment of the activities in the classroom, as follows:

The student is resistant to participation in the classes because she does not carry out group activities or expose her ideas as well as she wishes.She only says what she thinks, her wishes, to the assistant teacher, and she only performs individual and assisted activities (ANTONIA, 2015 - bold by the author).

The descriptive opinions, as well as the other evaluation tools, are values that express the learning process in a qualitative way. However, they also constitute a strategy for the surveillance and control of bodies, ensuring that these students do not leave the regulatory sphere.

According to Fabris (2009FABRIS, Elí Henn. A produção do aluno nos pareceres descritivos: mecanismos de normalização em ação. In: LOPES, Maura Corsini; HATTGE, Morgana Domênica. (org.). Inclusão escolar: conjunto de práticas que governam. Belo Horizonte: Autêntica, 2009. p. 51-69., p. 53), the descriptive opinions “are tools that help in the governance of the subjects,” therefore strengthening the exercise of biopower, since it has students with disabilities as its target population.

The narratives found in the analyzed documents described students who, even in the classroom, presented difficulties in relating to their colleagues, who were included in space, but were excluded from the relationships that surrounded them. Vania (2015), when reporting on a student in her evaluation tool (opinion), made the following comment: the student does not integrate with the class or with the lead teacher” (VANIA, 2015 - bold by the author).

Concern for the relationship and inclusion of students with disabilities appeared in Luiza (2015)’s referral form, where she described to the teacher of the Multifunctional Resource Room the following situation regarding socialization: the student does not interact with all of the students , but talks to them when they come to her desk” (LUIZA, 2015 - bold by the author).

Karen (2015) presented in her interview the importance that she places on the socialization and interaction of students with disabilities in the classroom. When asked about the aspects that make the development of students with disabilities in their learning process possible, she reported that The main one is socialization. Students who interact with their classmates feel welcomed and not discriminated against , and consequently, their learning develops despite their limitations” (KAREN, 2015 - bold by the author).

The recurrence of this theme in the reports is evidence of the teachers’ desire for all students to be included, demonstrating that they are being led by governance practices and discourses that call them to identify and seek alternatives for the participation of these students because of the laws of inclusion through socialization with their peers in the classroom. The AEE, in this governance logic, emerged as a normalization practice, acting on the control of bodies, and assisting with the production of learning and productive subjects in the school space.

INCLUSIVE POLICIES AND STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES: CONTROL AND REGULATION OF BEHAVIOR

After analyzing the data collected from the semi-structured interviews, referral forms to the specialized educational service, and evaluation tools (opinions), it was possible to highlight two themes: the AEE as a support service for inclusion and governmentality practices in biopolitics.

The narratives of the teachers presented their understanding on the school inclusion laws through their understanding of the existing legislation, making it possible to verify how the practices of governmentality and normalization, which were listed as one of the axes of data organization, appear in these narratives.

In an interview, when asked about the legislation that provides for the inclusive education, Aurea (2016) reported:

(...) the laws that I remember now are LDB (Law of Guidelines and Bases of Education), Salamanca, Federal Constitution, and the PCNs (national curricular parameters). They all say that every child with a disability must be enrolled in regular education , as a right for all. (AUREA, 2016 - bold by the author)

This situation is verified in John (2015)’s description. When he completed the referral form to the specialized educational service, he added the aspect of cognitive development: “the student has improved a lot with the tasks and activities developed in an adapted form, since this is a right of the student and this is how we have been working with her” (JOHN, 2015 - bold by the author).

When analyzing the evaluation tools, it is possible to find in Vania (2015)’s report the affirmation that “the student follows the content proposed to the others through differentiated activities that allow her to better understand them, within her possibilities” (VANIA, 2015 - bold by the author).

The data that emerged from the teachers’ narratives, when analyzed with Foucault’s tools, demonstrate that governance operates efficiently in the regulation of the teachers’ behavior. One of the focuses of the recurrences is the imperative of “education for all” as a right, which allows us to analyze how educators are affected by this law, feel engaged by controlling the behavior of their students, and provide an account of what this law provides them as if it were an truth.

Rech (2013RECH, Tatiana Luiza. A inclusão educacional como estratégia biopolítica In: FABRIS, Eli Henn; KLEIN, Rejane Ramos. (org.). Inclusão e biopolítica. Belo Horizonte: Autêntica, 2013. p. 25-45.) comments on the romanticized narrative of school inclusion as the result of “seduction strategies,” which in order to make this inclusion true, make the population feel mobilized and committed to this truth, creating a population of useful puppets in the governance of behaviors.

When found entangled in the web of the inclusion discourse, the educators create themselves as essential elements in the realization of school inclusion, producing in their narratives the normalization and regulation practices that they use for this purpose. However, these educators are also produced in the same governance practices of their students—practices that constitute them, as they are seduced by the imperative of school inclusion.

Regarding the support services in the school, the educators referred to the Multifunctional Resource Room and the AEE as the support services prepared to receive students with disabilities, which is evidence of the relations of power and knowledge that establish the specialized space par excellence. This data appear in the excerpt from Maria (2015), who writes in the referral form to the AEE the following point: “the student [XXX] needs specialized assistance in order to be able to develop his learning” (MARIA, 2015 - bold by the author).

Antonia (2015), referring to the importance of the school (which may also include its support services), presents in her report on the evaluation tool (opinion), the following statement: “In this quarter, the student was not very active in the classes, and the school played a fundamental role in her learning process (ANTONIA, 2015 - bold by the author).

When questioned in the interview about the importance of the AEE and the support services for the learning of inclusive students, Roberto (2016) provided the following answer: “the importance of the AEE is that it changes lives and the student’s own behavior inside the school (ROBERTO, 2016 - bold by the author).

The educators conduct their practices, which are constituted within the logic of governmentality. Therefore, in an attempt to respond to the imperative of school inclusion, they see in the AEE the support necessary to include students with disabilities within the normalization game. According to Lopes (2009LOPES, Maura Corsini. Inclusão como prática de governamentalidade. In: LOPES, Maura Corsini; HATTGE, Morgana Domênica. (org.). Inclusão escolar: conjunto de práticas que governam. Belo Horizonte: Autêntica , 2009. p. 107-131., p. 117):

(...) in normalization operations—which imply both bringing the “deviants” within normality and naturalizing the presence of such “deviants” in the social context in which they circulate—certain marks, traits, and impediments of distinct orders must be minimized.

The inclusive policies understood in this analysis as biopolitical devices, appear in the narratives of the educators as an undeniable truth. Likewise, the AEE, also ensured by legislation, is seen by the institution’s educators as a relevant support service necessary for the effectiveness of school inclusion, since, when referred to this specialized service, students with disabilities become normalized and controlled, minimizing their disabilities and making them as close as possible to the expected average.

FINAL CONSIDERATIONS

This article arose from the anxieties experienced within the school space that materialized the guiding questions of the study: how are students with disabilities being produced from the narratives of educators in the classroom? What relations can be established with the behavior control techniques of these subjects as practices of governmentality?

From the guiding questions, the materials to be studied were listed, ensuring that they were capable of satisfying the anxieties of the central question. By using the evaluation tools (opinions), the referral forms for the specialized educational service (AEE), and the interviews with the educators, it was possible to visualize the data as narratives about the students with disabilities enrolled in the participating school institution.

Realizing that the school is a piece of machinery at the service of the governmentalized state, the imperative of school inclusion was understood as a biopolitical strategy for regulating life and for the control and regulation of behavior centered on the logic of governmentality. Foucault’s notions of biopolitics and governmentality were used to analyze the data collected in the referral materials.

The analysis of these materials made it possible to organize the recurrent data into two axes: The AEE as a normalizing practice and of inclusive policies and the student with disabilities: control and regulation of behavior. The arrangement of the study, based on the narratives of the educators, demonstrated normalization practices with the students with disabilities, which were regulated by the inclusive policies that operate as a biopolitical control device of the population of such students enrolled in the institution.

The specialized educational service is implicated in this discursive structure of governmentality and, by articulating its practice with the institution’s educators, it assists in the production of subjects governed by the behavioral norm by focusing on learning.

It is possible to demonstrate how population regulation and risk control operate within the participating institution, where the normalization of bodies begins in the identification, scrutiny, and exclusion that occur inside the classrooms by the educator who is placed there.

The referral of the student to the AEE intensifies the normalizing practice of students with disabilities. The main objective is to control risks: of not learning, of not being self-managing, and of not acquiring sufficient autonomy to enter the productive game and remain in it.

From the narratives of the educators, it was possible to notice the concerns centered on disciplinary power and the learning of the students with disabilities. These forms of production of subjects also produce ways of managing others according to norms that act on the students’ bodies, educators, and institutions.

The governmentality practices appear in the effective concern for learning, making visible how engaged and enticed the educators are in the discursive plot of the inclusive governmentality. The legislation as a biopolitical device, ensures such practices exist within the school space and bring about greater reliability of the laws of inclusive education. This web of regulation and control of behavior facilitates the games of interest in the productive world.

The various learning movements of the concepts as analytical tools, the study of the current legislation, as well as the historical and literary collection of the themes contributed to the problematization and the uneasiness that originated the study. This analysis is relevant, as it places the productive characteristic of inclusive practices in relation to students with disabilities and their educators, which is a necessary analysis for the field of knowledge for which it was intended.

Historically, the school has been perfecting practices to conduct students’ behavior, under normality standards. Those who escape these standards are targeted by specialized services. The contemporary practices are evidence that other normalities have been constituted, regulated by the way of life, and also crossed by the market, where nobody is left out.

The inclusion is part of this context, and pedagogical support services can reinforce subjects’ behavior towards the ways of life that are consistent with this logic. However, studies such as the one proposed in this article may promote local reflections for the construction of other possibilities of operation in the school, without generalist pretensions, which imply the involvement of the teaching faculty, the students, and the community.

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  • 1
    The term governance was proposed by Veiga-Neto (2005) to solve the double meaning in the translation of the word government, present in the works of Michel Foucault. It suggests that the term governance should be used when it is referring to the act or action of governing and directing these processes.
  • 2
    It is a question of understanding both liberalism and neoliberalism as a set of practices that constitute forms of life increasingly driven to market principles and self-reflection, in which teaching/learning processes must be permanent. The market is understood as a way of defining and limiting government actions, causing it to stand and justify itself before the population and before the public that are formed within it (LOPES, 2009, p. 108).
  • 3
    The excerpts from the narratives will be in italics to differentiate them from the citations.

Publication Dates

  • Publication in this collection
    27 June 2019
  • Date of issue
    2019

History

  • Received
    07 Dec 2017
  • Accepted
    21 Nov 2018
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