Time to get back into the classroom. Whether we like it or not, it's that time of the year.
And in Sweden, it’s a gloomy prospect in more ways than one. Journalist Emma Leijnse has written a book about the Swedish school titled “Godkänt? En reportagebok om den svenska skolan” (Passed? A report about the Swedish school). When employers at Skolverket (the Swedish National Agency for Education) saw the international education rankings in 2009 done by PISA (the Program for International Student Assessment) their jaws dropped in shock. Never had the Swedish results been so negative, everything seemed to be pointing down. And the trend has since accelerated. “The difference between strong and weak students had also increased markedly,” Leijnse writes in her book. She tries to investigate as to why this is happening. One of her findings has to do with Sweden quickly becoming a society of classes, a fact nobody can escape and this is the elephant in the classroom that nobody mentions. And according to Leijnse, the Swedish school is more divided into classes, than the rest of the society. The new “friskolor” (a school that is independent in its finances and governance, a relatively new phenomenon in Sweden) has meant that the higher classes avoid schools attended by children of workers and immigrants. Popular schools have neither better teachers nor more interesting profiles, they are simply located in more expensive areas. On the Bellevuevägen in Malmö the houses look the same on both sides on the street, but on one side they are worth half a million more. Why is that? Well, those who live there are guaranteed a place in the school with a “higher status”. Leijnse draws the conclusion that the Swedish school is heading back to what it was like in the 1930’s, with marked classes. In those days you had to pay to go to “realskolan” (a type of secondary school). Now you’ve got to pay a higher price for where you live instead. In reading Leijsne’s book, Dagens Nyheter critic Kajsa Ekis Ekman says she feels queasy. “I feel physically sick when I read this. It’s like witnessing an evil spiral, which pulls everyone down, people elbow their way ahead, stepping on each other in the process in order to avoid the worst effects of the society’s classes, and the more we elbow and stampede, the greater the gaps and the more fearful we become in falling into them.” However the fact that the Swedish schools separate children into classes is not automatically the reason they receive poor educational results. Pedagogy plays an important part as well. What is a teacher to do? Focus on the weaker students or let them go? Leijsne points out that focus on individual work has grown stronger since the 1980’s and 1990’s, and she believes it’s unfair. The student lacking the proper foundations cannot possibly be expected to just get a project together all by him or herself. The student lucky to have parents who understand math gets help at home, but what about the student that is no so lucky?
Swedish schools, more class-focused that the rest of society, and with poorer educational results. In “Godkänt? En reportagebok om den svenska skolan”, journalist Emma Leijsne takes a look at why the Swedish school gets a failing grade. ISBN10: 9127133486
Swedish students are producing poorer results according to a fresh study from Skolverket. The reasons are bigger classes, the fact that the schools no longer are state-owned and the freedom to chose which school you want to go to.