Children as disciplinary problems

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The readings for this week were inspired by my interest in the (often troubling) link between children and troublemaking. Why is troublemaking so frequently read and dismissed as a childish activity? What does this move suggest about children as moral and political agents/critical thinkers? How is this move used to discredit troublemakers? How is troublemaking understood as something that one grows out of as they grow up? When they are more mature (more serious)? How is this disdain for the troublemaker reflected in kids' books (like The Book of Time Outs)? I have written about this a lot on my blog. Here are just a few examples:

A Disciplinary Problem? the unruly child as troublemaker
Teaching kids to value troublemaking
The book of time outs, part ii
The time-out as a liminal space of possibility?

And here is what I wrote about J Butler, troublemaking and ethics in this entry:

But, even as scholars have begun to think about ethics and Butler, their attention has frequently been on Butler's Giving an Account of Oneself. What about Gender Trouble? Does it have anything to offer to ethics, feminist, queer or otherwise? Or is it part of a different stage in Butler's thinking? On one hand, I can appreciate the need to turn to other texts. It is true, as Samuel Chambers and Terrell Carver suggest in their introduction to Judith Butler and Political Theory: Troubling Politics, that an overemphasis on Gender Trouble (which is often the only book that some people think Butler wrote) can obscure our understandings of Butler's contributions to political [and ethical] thought beyond gender and gender performativity (5). However, failing to consider the ethical import of Gender Trouble could be sending the worrisome (well, at least to me) message that troublemaking/troublestaying, which is first and most directly articulated in Gender Trouble, has no ethical value. And often implied in that message is the idea that engaging in the troubling of gender is something that Butler used to promote--that is before she grew up and turned to more serious matters, like ethics and morality.

This idea that Gender Trouble and troublemaking is immature and therefore unethical raises several questions for me: 1. As Butler (and her work) has grown older, has she matured beyond Gender Trouble and troublemaking? Has she replaced her "childishness" and lack of seriousness (playfulness?) with more weighty matters--like being undone, normative violence, grief?; 2. Does one have to be "serious" and mature (that is, not young and immature) in order to engage in ethics? Can we imagine ethical visions that are not predicated on this equation of maturity + seriousness = responsible/accountable and ethical?; and 3. Is troublemaking too playful, too immature, and therefore not ethical?

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