23 SES 07 C, Accountability
Parallel Paper Session
As part of a larger project (Bergh 2010, 2011) this article takes it point of departure from the international policy concept quality and, with Sweden as a case, report on national and local implications of different interpretations. By combining speech act theory (Skinner 1988a, 1988b) and conceptual history (Koselleck 2002), there is also a methodological interest to discuss the possibility to study the complex relation between policy work and educational practice. Although those two theories have developed from different roots and in different directions they also share common interests and positions. Both can be understood in relation to an interest in language and history and, in a wider sense, to the so-called linguistic turn (Rorty 1967). While Skinner is mainly interested in the rhetorical use of concepts, Koselleck’s interest lies in investigating how concepts consist of historical time. In this article, some analytical concepts are lifted from these two theories and are applied to the empirical material (criteria of application, performativity, space of experience, horizon of expectation).
As a background the concept of quality is contextualized diachronically and synchronically with a view to understand its conventional use in historical and contemporary time. Its historical use goes back to ancient Greek philosophy and it became a central concept in Japanese industrial production after the World War II. Today, the quality concept has gained a prominent position in many countries and is commonly used in various social contexts. For example, the Lisbon Strategy, in which the EU in 2000 formulated the need for Europe to become “the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world” (Presidency Conclusions, 2000:2), was followed two years later by a detailed work programme whose objectives included “Improving the quality and effectiveness of education…” (Council of the European Union, 2002:15). Quality is thus a central concept in international policy work and as such part of the Europeanisation of education, with influence from trends such as New Public Management, Total Quality Management, accountability and goal and result oriented steering (cf. Biesta 2009; Nóvoa & Lawn 2002; Ozga et al 2011; Segerholm 2009; Wahlström 2010).
The result from the larger project (Bergh 2010, 2011) shows that certain criteria of application, long associated with education in Swedish policy texts, have gradually been challenged and partly marginalised by criteria highlighting results and relating to market and system needs. As a consequence of the linguistic change it can be argued that use of the concept of quality has led to an acceptance of new social perceptions in education. To what extent this change, emerging from an analysis of policy texts, has also had an impact on educational practice is an empirical question of central interest in this article. From this introduction the aim with the article is to highlight if the change noticed at the national policy arena also has an impact at the education that take shape at local arenas. The question asked is: What implications do different interpretations of the quality concept have for teachers´ roles and educational practices?
Bergh, A (2010): Vad gör kvalitet med utbildning? Om kvalitetsbegreppets skilda innebörder och dess konsekvenser för utbildning [What does Quality do to Education? Different Meanings of the Concept of Quality and their Consequences for Education]. Örebro: Örebro Studies in Education, 29. Bergh, A (2011): Why Quality in Education - and what Quality? A Linguistic Analysis of the Concept of Quality in Swedish Government Texts. Education Inquiry 2(4), 709-723. Biesta, G (2009): Good Education in an Age of Measurement: on the Need to Reconnect with the Question of Purpose in Education. Educational Assessment, Evaluation and Accountability, 21(1), 33-46. Council of the European Union (2002) Detailed Work Programme on the Follow-up of the Objectives of Education and Training Systems in Europe http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_data/docs/pressdata/en/misc/69810.pdf [accessed 22 August 2011]. Koselleck, R (2002) The Practice of Conceptual History: Timing History, Spacing Concepts. Stanford: Stanford University Press. Nóvoa, A & Lawn, M, ed. (2002): Fabricating Europe. The Formation of an Education Space. Boston, MA: Kluwer Academic Publishers. Ozga, J, Dahler-Larsen, P; Segerholm, C & Simola, H (2011): Fabricating Quality in Education: Data and governance in Europe. London Routledge. Presidency Conclusions (2000) Presidency Conclusions. Lisbon European Council, 23-24 March. http://www.europarl.europa.eu/summits/lis1_en.htm [accessed 22 August 2011]. Rorty, R, ed (1967): The Linguistic Turn. Chicago: Chicago University Press. Segerholm, C (2009): ‘We are doing well on QAE’: the Case of Sweden. Journal of Education Policy, 24(2), 195-209. Skinner, Q (1988a): Language and Social Change. In James Tully, ed: Meaning and Context. Quentin Skinner and his Critics, pp 119-132. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Skinner, Q (1988b): Motives, Intentions and the Interpretation of Texts. In James Tully, ed: Meaning and Context. Quentin Skinner and his Critics, pp 68-78. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Skr 1996/97:112. Utvecklingsplan för förskola, skola och vuxenutbildning – kvalitet och likvärdighet. Stockholm: Utbildningsdepartementet. Wahlström, N (2010): A European Space for Education Looking for its Public. European Educational Research Journal 9(4), 432-443.
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