Sunday, May 25, 2008

Sweden Embraces Smart Kids

I recently referenced Jantelagen. An idea that Swedes should never consider themselves better than anyone else. Sometimes it’s a lovely concept. Other times it leaves those who excel twiddling their thumbs.

Late last year I was taking a Viking History/Archaeology class and was talking to a Swede who was actually in high school but taking the class. She was one of the excelling students who had found a way to fill her time instead of twiddling her thumbs. I remember sitting on the subway back to Central Station wither talking to her about the differences in the educational system. She wasn’t impressed with the Swedish way because she felt that she was being, if not held back, at least allowed to stagnate while she waited for those less driven and less intelligent to catch up. I was intrigued.

Well recently it seems that the Swedes have decided to do something about this. And in my opinion it can only be for the better. Sweden will begin offering classes aimed specifically at advanced high school students allowing them to earn college credits while in high school. It basically sounds like an Advanced Placement program. And I love AP. A school here in Stockholm will be the first to try it out.

My favorite quote is from Jan Björklund, the education minister who says “Vi måste göra oss kvitt den socialdemokratiska jantelagen i skolpolitiken.” Or as The Local translates it: “We have to leave behind the Social Democratic schools policy where nobody should think they are special.” Mostly I love it because even with a great idea like this the government found it necessary to take a dig at the Social Democrats. Seems they might be a bit worried still that their popularity numbers just aren’t quite where they would like them to be.

The Social Democrats of course aren’t impressed, believing that the focus should instead be on making sure everyone meets the goals. But that is the point, doing so just leaves the elite students floundering. Sossarna are silly.

From what I have read in other blogs and a most scientific poll given by Aftonbladet, many Swedes are in favor of this. And I love it. Although, I must say I am a little surprised considering the Social Democratic dislike of the idea and the fact that, despite the Moderates being in charge, most Swedes would back the Social Democrats. Perhaps it is an evolution in Social Democracy that will allow for the individual to grab a bigger piece of the pie.

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  1. I love this idea. In my school I can miss three or four classes and still get an MVG (A+) on the test, and then there is the part of my class that never understands anything and they can make the teacher go over the same thing several lessons, and the rest of us just sit there and wonder when we are going to learn something.
    It's actually quite depressing, feeling that you're not learning anything.

  2. "The Social Democrats of course aren’t impressed, believing that the focus should instead be on making sure everyone meets the goals" So how will the goal be met by everyone?? Lower the Goal!!
    Well Done Sossarna!!!!

  3. @sara - agreed. those who can exel should be given the opportunity to do so.

    @anonymous - I'd like to think that they could come up with something better. I'm just not sure they have or will.

  4. Again, a discussion on the individual vs the collective in Sweden. I think these "elite classes" is a good idea. I think it's good that individual is given more choice as to which level and pace they want to study and learn subjects at school, even if I think the Swedish school is very individualistic as it is. I just hope that it won't get as over-individualistic as in USA but in the same way Sweden might be a bit over-collectivistic (if that is a real word...) so I still think that this is good news.

  5. Honestly though, why is it needed? If people want to rush out from school, why dont they just jump a year ahead? i know people who have done this, graduating one year ahead.

    I mean, at least for me, when i think back on the elementary school and high school there were no rush really. I've taken a year off now between 12th grade and University, and what i've realized is that everything we learnt this far is almost nothing. You dont need the knowledge in itself but the way to reach it, as 18 years old its usually pretty easy to learn anything from high school and prepare for University.

    I'm still not conviced why to make elite classes. When they just could move ahead a year instead of wasting time in high school in some sort of elite class. It just feels like a way to separate people.

    If they can use logics and language, and are used to summarizing course litterature, they should just either enjoy life as it is and the time they get to plan/prepare/think about what the next step is, or just jump over a year?

    Just because you rush something, even if u got advantages, regardless if it is will power or brain power, doesnt mean we will get any higher % of finding a cure for AIDS. Or you getting a better job than anyone else, unless ofc someone already decided your future.


  6. sad i cant edit

    Anyway i think the reason why schools comes up with these ideas is partly because they see a market for it, the private schools as far as i know.

    Though questions still remains if Sweden as a country, or i more guess since thats what this is about - the particular individual who wants to rush ahead will be earning anything noticable from it. Extraordinary people usually finds other ways to be extra, people who needs help by being in elite classes usually arent brighter than anyone else.

  7. I think its important to allow people to be an individual. to excel. to be different. holding them back is no good.

    and while you're right that jumping ahead is an ioption it isn't always the best option. I think it's important to have another option. that being classes that give the "elite" students a place to be elite.

    and you're right though. elite students aren't necessarily smarter. they might just be willing to work harder. but that in and of itself is important too and enough to separate people.

    I'm pumped that I had the opportunity to take advanced placement clases in high school. it gave me the opportunity to do all kinds of stuff at university that I otherwise wouldn't have had time to do.

  8. and @ robban - come on now. you know I love the conversations about the individual vs the collective. it really intrigues me.

  9. damn made a wall of text.. and it didnt get posted, crap :p

  10. All education should be self-paced in whatever environment one chooses, for sure. Even in the USA, you could be advanced placement and graduate early...but still bored witless while not learning along the way...because who are you to get ahead? And if you do, who will be there with you? Fortunately, it's improved a bit since my school days, but no matter the country, there are restrictions keeping kids from truly learning in the environment, at the pace, and via the learning style they individually need.

  11. @braus - happened to me too a while ago.

    @isle - agreed. but I must say having the options of AP classes allowed me to earn a whole lot of college credit.

    and I love the fact that Sweden is at elast trying to give students this option. very important in my opinion that it moves more to the individuals needs not the "average" need.