ABSTRACT. For teachers working in public primary education in China, part of the job includes inventing lists of instructions that can be used to manage students in different ways. These so-called lists of instructions are created by teachers to prepare students for classroom instruction, raising their hands, outdoor classes, standing up and sitting down, listening, reading, speaking, making gestures, writing postures, and exchanges and cooperation. They are, essentially, a series of behavioral instructions. When the teacher says “1, 2, 3,” the student responds “sit correctly”, then quickly sits down. When the teacher says “3, 2, 1,” the student responds “no sound”, and the class immediately calms down. Primary school students are often able to perform teachers’ instructions perfectly, and their behavior is comparable to the instructional behavior in the military. There is, for primary school students, a stark contrast between their own physical control and the physical control exercised by those in the military, but primary school students are also able to internalize the teacher’s instructions, turning them into their own. Even in the absence of a teacher, students can then manage themselves and follow their own instructions, which regulate their behavior. This article uses Foucault’s theory to explain and analyze the mechanism behind the list of instructions. pp. 27–30

Keywords: disciplinary instruction list; normative behavior; discipline; moral education; self-management


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Department of Education,
East China Normal University

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