In the Kafka Museum in Prague there is a reconstruction of the torture machine (sometimes translated as a 'harrow') that is described in Kafka's story, 'In the Penal Colony'. The note on the wall in the exhibition says:
"Justice protects itself from the punishment it imposes by situating the execution of the sentence in an autonomous sphere, but at the same time the prison-model spreads throughout the social body, establishing mechanisms of surveillance and control which go to the heart of the modern city.'
Michel Foucault is name-checked earlier in this piece and it was Foucault who made connections between prisons, asylums and schools in order to typify modernity.
I found myself thinking about the English education system and how some of us object to the way in which the people running it at the moment are mostly privately educated. As plenty of people have noticed, one 'virtue' of the private education system is that it enables a small group of people to evade some of the day-to-day state control and surveillance meted out to children, teachers and parents within the state system. This means that we could re-phrase the sentence above along the lines of saying:
'Ministers of Education come from a background that is protected from the rule it imposes by situating the enactment of their commands in an autonomous sphere, but at the same time this model spreads throughout the social body, establishing mechanisms and control which go to the heart of the modern city.'
The key difference between prison and education is that very nearly everyone goes to school while only a minority go to prison. In that sense, education IS the 'social body'. We all experience it, we all learn something from it, not just in the sense of what we are taught but also in the hundreds of subtle ways we learn about where we are in this 'social body', what we're entitled (or feel that we're not entitled) to do and say in it. Quite literally, we enact that old dictum: 'Know your place!'