Futuribles Journal n° 356

Éducation - Institutions

Performance Culture and Public Service Ethic


If the word “performance” and its correlates – results, effectiveness, and efficiency – are familiar to France’s education managers today, they are still difficult for teaching staff to accept. For many of the latter, they are notions synonymous with an accountant’s view of education, which deeply offends their sensibilities. We are, it would seem, seeing a divorce between the values held by managers in the education system and those which hold sway in the classroom. Beyond a mere question of semantics, does this not indicate the difficulty of promoting the emergence of “a results-based ethic” in a system which remains profoundly attached to the traditional values that made the French-style education system?

In this article, Jean Étienne examines the advantages and limits of a performance culture in the education field, within the specific context of the “French-style” public education service. He shows that it is possible to reconcile educational ethics and performance today, provided that one goes beyond quantitative objectives (which are sometimes counterproductive) and introduces elements of qualitative assessment that are doubtless more in keeping with the values of the teaching staff.

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