The rise and fall of the Swedish school

In the debate on the new marking system and other measures to lift up Swedish schools, it is sometimes said that the reforms should be carried out with as broad a consensus as possible. People think that agreement is good on sensitive matters. Perhaps the really important decisions should indeed be left to experts. Where the economy or defence is concerned, this is usually the view advocated by the right. But where education is involved, it presently seems to be the approach taken by the left.

Nevertheless, the history of Swedish school reform is an excellent example of the benefits of disagreement and debate and the dangers of consensus and the rule of experts. It is also beneficial in other respects to return to the 1960s and look at how the Swedish school really came to be what it is today.

The reforms were actually quite disparate. The approach changed dramatically between the early and late 1960s. In truth, by the mid-1960s, Sweden probably had the be...

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