EXCELLENCE AND ENJOYMENT: THE LOGIC OF A ‘CONTRADICTION’
In 2004, the Department for Education and Skills in England published its Five Year Strategy for Children and Learners (DfES, 2004). It was preceded by Excellence and Enjoyment: a strategy for primary schools (DfES, 2003). ‘Excellence and enjoyment’ seems to constitute an ambiguity, even a contradiction. The government's view is otherwise. It states that enjoyment (for pupils) is a consequence of excellent teaching. In turn, excellent teaching is said to be more assured if it is personalised and creative. This official logic is questionable. A different interpretation is offered. Global capitalism is placing fiscal pressures on the public expenditure of the nation-state, and new accommodations and justifications have to be made by government as it continues to re-focus the education system towards an economic purpose. In this endeavour it must gain public and professional assent. Informed by critical theorists, it is argued here that ‘excellence’ associates with a producer ethic; ‘enjoyment’ with a consumer ethic. The former enables the capital accumulation process within a social-democratic welfare state; the latter justifies the policies of accumulation.