In relation to the questioning of the Government-controlled school, the field of school and aesthetics is studied from an interest in how ideals of knowledge are created and preserved through specific control strategies.
The starting point of the study is that the field of aesthetics and school is created in discursive practices through linguistic interaction by way of specific power techniques. The aim is to identify and describe current discourses relating to the aesthetic activities in compulsory school, and to problematise these with regard to power and control.
Data-collection included individual and group interviews with 55 teachers and head teachers from seven compulsory schools during the years 2002–2004. The participants conducted the discussions concerning “the aesthetic activities of the school” by themselves. In the analysis, five discourses concerning the construction of legitimacy surrounding the aesthetic activities of the school were identified and subsequently five discourses concerning the construction of legitimacy surrounding the aesthetic competence of the teachers.
The result shows that the discourses might be construed as being based on more comprehensive discourses significant to our time; education for freedom and exercising social control in the name of aesthetics. The idea of the inherent power of aesthetic activities to alter a person’s character and capability of leading a “good life” may be said to fit in well with a time of striving for free and harmonious citizens in tune with an accepted social behaviour. In conclusion, from this message the teachers are portrayed not as more or less competent professionals but as free and exemplary persons.