Tuesday, February 02, 2010

My Tax Money at Work – Adult Education

I’ve been trying to learn some language here in Sweden. Take advantage of the educational system. Putting my tax kronor to work if you will.

With all the tax money the government pulls in, they offer a lot of opportunities for adult education. Or a high school education while an adult. Which is what I’m looking for when it comes to languages. So I signed up of course. I’ve already made my way through one course, but missed the opening introductory meeting. I just signed up for my second course.

This time, I decided to take a late lunch and disappear to my introductory meeting. It was a poor choice on my part. An enlightening choice, but a poor one none the less.

The meeting was open to everyone taking classes so it was a hodgepodge of different interests. It kicked off with an awkward introduction by the middle aged woman in front of us. Who later revealed to us she was a teacher. And the principal. My education is in good hands.

We eventually got into the grading of assignments. This is where it got interesting. Despite a move to the Bologna system and a standardized grading using the letter grading scale, adult education sticks with the Swedish system. G, VG, MVG, and lest we forget, IG. Godkänd, Väl Godkänd, Mycket Väl Godkänd, and Icke Godkänd. Essentially, pass, pass +, pass with distinction, and fail.

Pretty easy to follow, no questions there. It was how to earn the grades that I thought was interesting. Because it turns out you can re-do an assignment as many times as you want. Fail the assignment? Don’t worry; if you get an MVG on the sixth attempt, no one needs to know about the other five failures. Now my mind starts racing, probably because I am kind of competitive and have always pulled half-way decent grades.

I get the idea that people should actually learn the subject, that a grade doesn’t necessarily demonstrate learning. I understand that. Fine. So pass the person, but do not give that person the same grade as someone who managed to pass with an MVG on the first attempt. Note somewhere that it took six attempts. Or at least just give them a G and move them along. To suggest that taking as many attempts as you want to pass a class is indicative of mastery of a certain subject is frightening. I do not want a surgeon who needed six attempts to pass physiology.

There are moments when I struggle to fit into Swedish society. Luckily, there are also moments when I force myself to fit into Swedish society. I did not act on my immediate impulse to raise my hand and ask why.

We moved along to how we all were going to get through the classes we were taking. Goals are good. But don’t aim too high. Don’t want to be let down when you don’t achieve them. Seriously. This was the advice given. Don’t set your goals too high. Like MVG. G might just be good enough for you.

So on the one hand, we are told that we can keep trying until we get that MVG, but on the other hand, some of us should just not try. Which makes perfect sense.

Welcome to Sweden. And Swedish adult education.

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55 comments:

  1. Sounds weird. But is it? Didn't she just want to say that you can follow the course with different levels of engagement?

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  2. I do love our Jantelag. What would we be without it?

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  3. Ive had ALOT of arguments over this with my swedish friends and my professors.

    like you said, I don't want someone to get the same mark as me when I worked harder, do my assigment on time and passed. As to someone who didnt try too hard mulitple times, and did bare minimal.
    they do this for exams as well. I'm all for re-examinations. But not more than once. students are allowed to retake an exam as many times as they want. Most teacher(from the cats mouth) dont even change the re-takes, they are the same ones, and they give back the old exam papers AND questions back to the student. Basically its a game of memorizing afterwards.

    There is no incentive to try hard.

    also the grading system is a major disappointment, what are we , elementary students. They shouldn't grade us with pictures of sunshine(mvg), clouds(g), rainstorms (U)

    A, A+, A-. etc...


    I rear my ugly head when it comes to school, because I acutally work very hard in it... well.. I work hard, and when I get a 98% on an exam, marked MVG, and someone who got an 85% also gets MVG... which actually happens.well. that just makes me wanna load a gun and start shooting.


    I apologize. I'm very competitive, I just love kicking peoples ass in school, and its kinda hard to do in sweden.

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  4. But how do we compare with other countries?

    I think we are pretty competetive when it comes to science for instance, no?

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  5. can it be due to the fact when you are going to university/"högskola" in sweden you are accepted on an number that is calculated from your final grades in the 9th class.

    G in everything gives 10.0 points
    mvg in everything is 20.0 points and that is what you need if you want in on popular educations.

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  6. ^ @ LINUS

    I hear you guys have some great schools. no clue, personally, the grading system is too lax.

    comparing it to other countries, i find it easier to do well in school here because of the grading system, than in Canada, Africa, or Asia ( at least where i have studied). this is coming from a person with experience, I'm not just bashing sweden. definitely not.

    as a FIELD, yes, sweden may be more competitive towards science, not too sure. that does not mean it produces many engineers who are as qualified as foreigner engineers. since an 85% in another country will mean an A-, and in Sweden its an MVG(the highest) the equivalent of a 100%-95% somewhere else, the average tends to be bunk.

    If studentA(95%~A or MVG)) and studentB(85%~B or MVG) will be competing for the same job, who do you think will get it??
    Not everyone that maintains an MVG average in Sweden ACTUALLY maintains an A average.

    top students in other countries are usually treated extra delicately and schools enforce more knowledge in their big heads, causing superior skills to a student in Sweden that receives a 100%MVG and a student that receives 85%MVG who are treated the same.

    I hope I'm not confusing anyone.

    for example. in Canada. we are graded by percentages, and each exam, homework assignment, quiz, etc, is a certain percentage of the final mark.
    we do not have MVG, VG,G,or U.

    we have 100% to 50% otherwise F.

    in America, its A+,A,A-,B+,B,B- etc.. all the way to F.



    I'm sorry, I'm rambling. I should make a post about this someday so I can ramble without bugging or insulting anyone. well i hope i didnt confuse you linus

    also, sorry for the spelling mistakes and grammer, its 3 am! give me a break :P

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  7. wow. i haven't heard the system described like that before... probably because i've had native swedes tell me about it all, and they wouldn't think to bring those parts up.
    will be interesting if i can experience it in person.

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  8. I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

    Alena

    http://grantsforeducation.info

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  9. But aren't they about to change the system? I've heard we're going back to the old number system (1 to 5 or 1 to 10, not sure). I'm very unsure though, just something I think I've heard somewhere.

    I mean our grade system is quite critized among the Swedes too.

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  10. Grades show how much you know of a subject, not how long it took you to learn it.

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  11. @anonymous
    yes i heard they are changing it as well :) i hope they do


    @anonymous
    the speed in which you learn should effect your grade
    if your learning a lot slower than the rest of your grade, shouldn't they keep you behind? instead of passing you with everyone else and then screwing you over because you'll be more confused?
    thats why there are deadlines. they want to see how much you can accomplish at a certain interval.

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  12. There is loads to complain about regarding the grading system but I do not have a problem with the re-exams. I have gone to countless tests and failed because I didn't study beforehand. Then I've gone home, read the entire textbook and taken the exam again with top marks. Why would my knowledge mean less than it would have done four weeks earlier? I still know everything. I had a girl in my class who has stayed in France for two years, she got MVG in French of course, even though she didn't study at all. It's about your actual knowledge, not how and when you learned.

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  13. There is a lot of bullshit in the swedish education system, no doubt. However when it comes to adult education (I'm assuming you're talking about komvux), there is something to be kept in mind.

    Komvux is meant for people who didn't manage to complete high school to be able to do so at a later stage in their lives. It has also (regretably) become a way for people who got lousy grades in high school to increase their total score.

    However I do believe that being able to retake an exam and getting a better grade is a valid form of teaching. If you get an MVG after your fifth attempt or your first should not matter since you should have equal knowledge of the material (saying that the person who needs five attempts gets to see the questions/answers is illogical since most courses have old exams available to students).

    It's still beneficial to ace the exam on the first try since you get to go on with your studies directly. This means you finish your education earlier (i.e. less student debt) and get to do other things. Also when searching for jobs the person who completed her degree in 3 years will be more desirable compared to the person who needed 6.

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  14. @Emma and @JB - I totally agree with you (a little scary as I'm Emma too and could've written Emma's post, though I'm sure I didn't). It doesn't matter when you aquire the knowledge, so long as you do. At my university we only had pass (G) or fail (IG) as grades, so it didn't matter if you had 100% or just 70%. But you know what the people who passed their exams first try got?! They got to enjoy their holidays, and didn't have to study over Christmas and summer like the rest of us. So there - there's "justice" after all. ;)

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  15. @daniel – alive and well.

    @Andreas – to an extent. Or she said, don’t try too hard because we don’t want you to get your feelings hurt if you can’t achieve.

    @anonymous – better?

    @Lost – the not changing of tests blows my mind. When I was studying at Uppsala, people would walk into the test. Read it. And walk out. Now they know what to study because the test wouldn’t change enough to make a difference.

    @Linus – and that’s the thing, it works quite well here in Sweden. I just don’t think I could have handled it, and I don’t think I would have performed nearly as well here had I gone to college in Sweden rather than the US.

    @anonymous – right… but that’s exactly why you shouldn’t be allowed to keep retaking. It skews the grades.

    @Lost – I followed. And I liked it.

    @*Corinne – maybe swedes don’t even give it a second thought. It is what they have grown up with. Just as I am shocked by the system, I wouldn’t at all be surprised if Swedes are shocked by not even getting one re-test in the US.

    @Hattie –thanks

    @anonymous – I think Ive heard that as well actually…

    @anonymous – I think grades show your ability to master a subject over a certain time period as well as your ability to prepare and perform well. Numerous re-takes skew that. Someone who performs well on the calculus test the first time is not the same as the person who performs well on the calculus test the fifth time.

    @Lost – absolutely agree.

    @Emma – but preparation is a huge part of learning and doing well. And if you are actually learning a new subject to ignore that aspect demonstrates a lack of interest and motivation. And that’s not good.

    @JB – true, and that is something I noticed in the first class. You are treated like a high school student. Which is frustrating when you have already gone through high school as well as university.

    I just cant buy into the better grade thing. I can be sold on the retaking thing. Because it does demonstrate that finally, you learned the material, but I think giving a better grade minimizes the accomplishments of others, and brings up this idea that no one is better than anyone else. Everyone is the same.

    @terander – I actually wondered if you were trying to be sneaky and slide in with your actual name and leave a comment. And in the US? The fail people get to enjoy taking the entire class one more time. During the summer. And the non fail people get to go home for the summer.

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  16. J.B: "Komvux is meant for people who didn't manage to complete high school to be able to do so at a later stage in their lives. It has also (regretably) become a way for people who got lousy grades in high school to increase their total score."

    Now they have changed the rules. People who got better grades at Komvux are placed in a special group when applying for university.

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  17. If you fail a course in Canada (and the US I assume) you not only have to redo the entire course again, but you also have to PAY for it again! So there is a greater incentive to study and pass the first time, i mean who wants to pay $500 to take a course you've already done but were too lazy to study for??

    I am seriously against this whole retesting thing. I really don't understand it, and don't know why this is acceptable. I go to KI and really have to wonder if they apply this rule to the doctors like you said Hairy. I also do not want my doctor to have failed physiology 5 times!

    I wish i had the guts to walk into an exam, wait the required 30 mins, and then walk out with the test paper in my hands knowing EXACTLY what the re-exam will be like. I guess i just have too much Canadian school training in me :(

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  18. are you going to watch superbowl on viasat?
    im so waiting for it

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  19. @ swedyogi

    yes! exactly in Canada you have to retake the entire class, which will have MAJOR time conflict with your other classes, totally setting you back an entire semester. oh god, when i was studying in canada, it was way around 5000 a semester. ONLY for the classes. ><! such a pain

    but i expect it to be this way . so i was a little shocked at the swedish school system and how easy it is.

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  20. So if you are an employer and you have cnadidates with the highest grades, you woudl expect them to be able to learn quickly and accurately. If one of the candidates took several times to get the higher grade it would be a safe assumption to say that this person would probably be a slower learner than one who got the highest grade the first time. On argument was that the person didn't study or was lazy, well I would want that person in my company The point is that as you make the choice of who to hire you are then not getting the correct profile and can make the wrong decision

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  21. Preparation is necessary to pass the test. If you passed, you did prepare. At least if the test is any good but there is risk of lousy teachers everywhere.

    Why does it matter if a phycisian failed five times? Each and every doctor was born without the knowledge of, say, the lungs. At some point they studied and learned. Why does it matter if they learned according to the original or the revised plan?

    A failed test does not necessarily mean a person is stupid. More likely, he or she didn't study enough, for some reason or other. Naturally, it would be ideal if everybody passed the first time, but it does not affect the knowledge gained.

    The time required to gain knowledge is not important and I must say I'm surprised you think so because it's a very Swedish point of view that all should be equal in school and that extra studying should not be rewarded ;). Truth is, in higher education, everyone comes with baggage. Some medical students are already trained and experienced nurses, some have families, some just recently learned Swedish, some have already taken classes in biology or chemistry - they do not share starting point and do not need the same amount of time.

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  22. This also makes me wonder what the quality of teaching is like, it doesn't really seem like much initiative to me.

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  23. Just leaving a comment about the doctor failing physiology and still getting through...

    I'm in the vet-education at the moment, and we get 3 (perhaaaps it's 4, but I think it's 3) attempts, if we fail all then we are not allowed to continue. Being sick and not able to take a test i think counts as one time aswell!

    So I don't think it's possible for a doctor to fail a course 6 times and continue his education.

    I think they, just as we veterinarians, also just have a system that just have two grades: fail or pass. I think that makes sence for educations like these. You either know your subject well enough to be able to use it in your work later or you don't. I don't want to be operated by a G-doctor if I could chose an MVG one :P

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  24. hmm.. If you get a "IG" on a coarse, you always have the opportunity to redo the assignments you failed. But at the end, you cant get a higher grade than "G" even if you got the same points at the tests ect. as the ones that got "MVG", because you failed the first time. Atleast at my school.

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  25. @Anonymous
    "So if you are an employer and you have cnadidates with the highest grades, you woudl expect them to be able to learn quickly and accurately. If one of the candidates took several times to get the higher grade it would be a safe assumption to say that this person would probably be a slower learner than one who got the highest grade the first time. On argument was that the person didn't study or was lazy, well I would want that person in my company The point is that as you make the choice of who to hire you are then not getting the correct profile and can make the wrong decision"

    The employers in Sweden can still see exactly how long your university education have taken you to complete. So they have the option to hire somebody who have completed a e.g. MSc in time. Since re-tests only occur a half year after the first exam this would be an indicator of how fast someone learns

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  26. ^ @ anonymous.

    well, in some uni's like mine, there is a reexaminations 1 or 2 weeks after the original, and then the 3rd is a semester after. etc...

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  27. Well we can all agree that the Swedish educational system could become better in many ways, even if it's at least alright right now.

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  28. @LostInTraslation
    Which university do you attend? In my experience and what I know from friends at other universities in Sweden it's more common with a period of at least 3-4 months at minimum before you can re-test

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  29. Well man this pisses me off too. One of the biggest problems here is such high unemployment, esp among young people. I mean companies are afraid to hire people bc then they cant fire them. Even if they are dumbf&cks. Plus, there are too many people running around with degrees who don't deserve them. How can you say it does not matter how long it took to learn? Simple way to test this. A year or two after finishing school, give the same exam to students to finished it fairly the first time and to those who took multiple tries and see who still knows it. If those who needed many tries are dumber as I suspect they are, they probably have not retained as much knowledge....

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  30. @anonymous - i know you weren't asking me, but i go to Karolinska in Sthlm and we have our re-tests scheduled for 2-3 weeks after the regular exam. Its actually on our course schedule that we get before the class even starts.

    @m8smurf - well, i really think that if someone tested me on the knowledge that i should have learned in my bachelor's degree, i would fail miserably, even though at the time i scored rather well (or at least didn't fail). Most of the information that we learn is not always used in a work environment. That said, i think that part of a uni degree is learning how to meet deadlines, how to think critically and write critically, etc. Now I didn't necessarily study a degree (like maybe computers?? or law??) that require all that knowledge gained at school to be used in a work environment, so maybe i'm not a good example. But i think that retaining knowledge and scoring well on an exam (the first time) are two different things.

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  31. The whole idea with the G-VG-MVG system is that no one is compared to another. Isn't it?
    Compared to the old system where only so many could get a 5 based on a curve.

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  32. Perhaps you should concern yourself with your own grades, and not the grades that others receive. It's a thought.

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  33. I work as a teacher. The idea is to grade the actual knowledge of the student, not how good someone is at studying. The grades are meant to show how well this person knows the particular subject, not how long it took for him to learn it. I think this makes sense, even though it usually makes people who pass things on the first run mad when someone else gets a second chance. They want credit for being smart - not just for reaching the goals of the course. But the school's job is not to sort out who has the biological/social benefits to learn fast. It is to teach the material given, and when the student has learned this, well, then the student passes the course.
    Technically, if you argue that time spent should be a factor in grading, at universities you'll have to give older people lower grades than younger people - even though their scores are the same - since they might have previous experience that makes it "unfair" for the younger ones who might face the material for the first time. But somehow I don't think you want to do that.

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  34. A less stressed out society is a healthier one!

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  35. well if you think about it, it makes kind of sens

    in sweden compared to us for example everyone dont go for the highest salary and become the best at work and get the highest position and dont brag about how successful we are in our life and so on. thats something most keeps to them because its not so popular to brag about it in swe. then a g-mvg grade makes kind of sens.

    but if your like most in us aim for becoming the best and earn the most and have the most benefits and are proud of it then i can understand why g-mvg wouldnt make sens and why they hafe a-f +-

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  36. @hampus – good.

    @swedishyogi – agreed.

    @anonymous – I watched it at Hard Rock.

    @Lost – same in the US. Take the class again.

    @anonymous – I want the person who did well the first time. Not the person who did well after four attempts.

    @Emma – but everyone isn’t equal in school. And that’s why the grades need to show that.

    You are right though, tests do not show the whole picture. But they do a good job of weeding people out.

    @anonymous – hmmm… an interesting question.

    @Izi – you said it best. I want the MVG doctor operating me. Not the G. And I want the MVG doctor who got the MVG the first time around. Not the MVG doctor who got it the 3rd time around.

    @anonymous – see that makes much more sense.

    @anonymous – good.

    @Lost – bad.

    @anonymous – agreed. Just like the American system.

    @anonymous – 3-4 is a bit better. Although, when I was in Uppsala, the first re-test was only a few weeks after the first test.

    @m8 – the unemployment rate among people under 25 in this country is frightening.

    @Swedishyogi – agreed. Especially about the meeting deadlines and thinking critically.

    @anonymous – but people are different. Why cant we compare?

    @anonymous – Im trying to be Swedish. You know, thinking about the welfare of others and the educational level of the entire country. Or something like that.

    @another JB – disagree. Older people may have started later. Age doesn’t matter. Time taking the courses does. Attempts at passing matters. The ability to prepare, the ability to succeed, the ability to do what is expected on a deadline, that should be included.

    @tod – maybe.

    @anonymous – it absolutely makes sense from a Swedish cultural perspective. I see why it is like it is. I just don’t agree with it.

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  37. It must be said that while you can retake test a lot in the adult it is not something you can do in the mandatory school or at gymnasie (upper secondary school?) level. And if you fail at those especially in the later of the two it will seriously hurt you.

    Also if you failed and retake the test and get MVG logically you have studied as hard as someone who got MVG the first time around. It might not speak well to a persons abilities to structure their studies. But it doesn't say anything about whether the will remember what it was about in 5 years in comparison to the one who got it right the first time around.

    And personally I believe the a+, a, a-, b+, b, b-, c+, c, c-, d+, d, d-, e+, e, e-, f+, f and f- system. Makes no sense what so ever. You can ether fail, pass or pass with flying colours.. or with some colours flying.

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  38. see I think the more nuanced system of grading allows for a better distribution and helps to differentiate between those who have mastered the subject and those who have managed to get by. While it might go a little overboard with so many plusses and minuses, I do like having more options.

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  39. @LostInTraslation...Literally

    So.. you mean by your reasoning that before taking a test for a course, just because I studied twice as many hours than you did before both passing the test on the first run, you should receive a better grade than me? .. If, how is that supposed to be measured? By timestamping every student's studytime or perhaps how much the students sweat over their text books? Or should students recieve a better grade the sooner they finish the tests? (I doubt that has ever happened though) Where do you draw the line? Give me a break and chill some before it all gets totally absurd. This actually tells pretty much about your low self esteem and your unhealthy obsession and concern with quantity rather than with quality. If you represent the elite outcome from the Canadian education system, as I've noticed you're repeatingly tell you do in your posts, I'm not very impressed by it, as you don't seem to even know how to think consistently.
    You are totally ignorant (and obsessed) about the re-test system as well. As the super student you claim to be I doubt you have any personal experiences from any re-tests so let me explain this to you; The second test is different, harder and can only be passed with a 'pass' as the highest grade, (at least where I studied), no matter if you aced it or not. So it's not like you can bide your time and tactic-study for it. Even worse is that a new course has begun before the re-test which means much less time and concentration for studying for the re-test as it gets alot tougher to manage and by that less chance to pass with the double workload. One important thing to mention also, is that 99% of the students recieve loans in this country and the students have to pass a 70% credits limit annually to be able to continue to recieve loans which makes this system only fair as people do fail at times on the first tests even if they've studied hard. Thus, the rational and smart student takes every chance to try to pass on the first test to be on the safe side. If you yet choose to wait for the re-test, you'll learn a hard lesson quickly. But people still fail anyway now and then on the first tests and to take a re-test one month or one year later doesn't make any difference in terms of competetiveness or level of knowledge in the end. Rather it makes it to a more effective system in that it saves time and money for both the schools and the students. It's not like in North America here where your parents save up for your eduction for which the student can lag for years at college.

    I don't know the Canadian high school system but compared to the rest of North America a swedish gymnasium is to compare with high school + two year at college there. Gymnasium education in Sweden implies an integrated program with corresponding major AP level courses ONLY. That's why it only takes 3 years for getting a bachelor degree in Sweden and rest of the world, while it takes 4 in North America. That tells some about the level of laxity in NA high schools. It also tells me that by your logic a university degree would be more worth from a Swedish/European university as it takes one year less to complete than in North America. Thank you, very flattering indeed.

    Besides, attending the gymnasium education is grade based on grades from 9:th grade here and there's a quite fierce competition for getting into many of the popular programs, especially science/tech as well as many school applies testing to sort out their students.
    Moreover, the grading system was changed to ECTS grading system A-F in 2011 but some universities are still in the transition to adopt it.

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  40. This way of measuring knowledge by speed by HairySwede and Lostintranslation almost sounds like some reversed and American version of Jante - "You all shall not think that you can be as equally good as ME!" .. Like it's almost an obsession that other people can absoultely not be equally good just for the sake of it. I find it quite strange and irrational.

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  41. @another JB said...

    Thank you. Finally. Good to read some words from a rational thinker here. Couldn't agree with you more.

    @HairySwede

    Allright. Fair enough. So let's measure performance by speed then. This means that just because I can get college credits for a whole year due to my swedish gymnasium education, it only takes me 3 years to get a bachelor degree as opposed to 4 years for an American high school graduate (due to a lax high school system). Does this make me superior to the American student you mean hm?..

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk%3AEducation_in_Sweden#American_comparison

    It's going to be exciting to see how fast you can come up with a smart ass answer on that one Mr HairySwede.

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  42. "@another JB – disagree. Older people may have started later. Age doesn’t matter. Time taking the courses does. Attempts at passing matters. The ability to prepare, the ability to succeed, the ability to do what is expected on a deadline, that should be included."

    @HairySwede

    And how do you know how much pre-knowledge each student has about the subject or other things that might affect how fast they'll learn the material? .. Should they get tested in the beginning to be able to sort them out due to it would be considered as "cheating" otherwise in case they know too much? This is just too absurd. And impossible to do. And pointless. When has that EVER happened? I wouldn't think for a second that everyone is on the exact same level before taking a course ever. It's the outcome that counts.

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  43. "J.B said...

    There is a lot of bullshit in the swedish education system, no doubt. However when it comes to adult education (I'm assuming you're talking about komvux), there is something to be kept in mind.

    Komvux is meant for people who didn't manage to complete high school to be able to do so at a later stage in their lives. It has also (regretably) become a way for people who got lousy grades in high school to increase their total score."


    @J.B

    Incorrect. It's not possible at all for people with lousy grades from high school to increase their score by taking the same course(s) again. The only thing you can do is to complete with courses you haven't taken before, for the reason to get special eligibility for a certain college program for instance.

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  44. "swedishyogi... said...

    If you fail a course in Canada (and the US I assume) you not only have to redo the entire course again, but you also have to PAY for it again! So there is a greater incentive to study and pass the first time, i mean who wants to pay $500 to take a course you've already done but were too lazy to study for??

    I am seriously against this whole retesting thing. I really don't understand it, and don't know why this is acceptable. I go to KI and really have to wonder if they apply this rule to the doctors like you said Hairy. I also do not want my doctor to have failed physiology 5 times!"

    @swedishyogi

    Do ask how many times your new doctor had to re-take the physiology course first time you meet him? .. Do you always require a transcript of his grades from his medical school? What constitutes a good doctor more than having good grades? .. Perhaps the medical student who struggled 5 times to pass the physiology course also by that showed he wasn't lazy, but instead had endurance and a willing to work for it? .. I'd say THAT, if something, is a skill that more doctors should have more of today.

    The only reason why your colleges don't use the re-test system is because they're not tuition-free and don't mind fools like you to continue another year to waste your mum and dad's money on their expensive tuition fees. They will just make another profit if you have to stay another year!
    Though I'm sure you would quickly introduce a similar system there if the good old state of Canada would start funding your college education just like it is here. No government wants to spend more money than necessary on a student.

    like J.B said.. grades only measure actual knowledge, not how fast you learned it. If it was a matter of time you'd have to give students higher grades the sooner they would finish tests for instance. What I know that has NEVER happened, and will ever hardly either. Also, by this reasoning , re-taking your expensive $500 course at your likewise expensive and fancy Canadian college would imply that it would be impossible to aquire top grades in case you aced the course. Nooo.. because that would be "cheating" as you have had a WHOOOOLE year to study for it as opposed to the first time students! I wonder if students in Canada recieve a lower grade if they have to re-take a course(?) Probably not.
    I find this whole idea just ridiculous and totally laughable. It's rather you people that have a very low self esteem and have a constant and unhealthy need to "show off" by every means despite that it's totally irrelevant in the context. You need to seriously chill and mind your own business more instead of watching everyone else's grades.

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  45. "swedishyogi... said...

    If you fail a course in Canada (and the US I assume) you not only have to redo the entire course again, but you also have to PAY for it again! So there is a greater incentive to study and pass the first time, i mean who wants to pay $500 to take a course you've already done but were too lazy to study for??

    I am seriously against this whole retesting thing. I really don't understand it, and don't know why this is acceptable. I go to KI and really have to wonder if they apply this rule to the doctors like you said Hairy. I also do not want my doctor to have failed physiology 5 times!"

    @swedishyogi


    Most (like 99%) students in Sweden live off loans more or less and are required to pass a certain credits limit anually to be able to continue to recieve loans. Loans that are required to be payed back with a juicy interest later, no matter level of income. THAT's ONE incentive to not miss out on any chances on taking the tests the first time. If you yet miss out on those credits, you'll be OUT OF MONEY next semester. To recieve loans again you have to take ALL CREDITS CORRESPONDING TO ONE SEMESTER which often implies lots of collisions with other courses meanwhile. Fun huh? So who wants to live on the streets for a whole semester just because you were too lazy to not take those first tests? .. And besides, you may yet fail enough re-tests to end up in a poor situation as the credits limit is no less than 70% anually. I know several people who have done that.
    So who actually pays for YOUR college education? Yourself? Hardly. It's your good ol' mum and dad. Do you have to pay back loans when your studies are done? Nope. BUT 99% of us have to!
    Even if you may finance your studies partly by jobs (which are often hard to find due to extreme competition among students due to harsh loan conditions) or saved money you're still dependent on loans more or less and you don't want to waste more money than necessary on studies year after year just because of laziness. The student housing here is another issue and is often pretty expensive as well and there's a time limit for how many years you can stay, as well as it's hard to find cheap housing options in general in the student cities. That doesn't exactly make up for any incentives to stay year after year as a poor student while the loan debts are piling up in the meantime..
    Nothing is for free, not even here.


    Incorrect. The re-test isn't EXACTLY as the first test. That would just like studying for the test and not the actual knowledge. Have you done any re-tests at all? If the same questions (God forbid) yet would occur, well blame the lazy teacher doing wrong, not a whole system. I've never ever experience that myself as a student for many years and I've taken quite a few re-tests through the years. The re-test can only be passed with a 'pass' or 'E' as highest grade no matter the result. This works as an incentive to make students pass on the first test.

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  46. "LostInTraslation...Literally said...

    @anonymous
    the speed in which you learn should effect your grade
    if your learning a lot slower than the rest of your grade, shouldn't they keep you behind? instead of passing you with everyone else and then screwing you over because you'll be more confused?
    thats why there are deadlines. they want to see how much you can accomplish at a certain interval."

    @LostInTraslation...Literally

    Ok, so according to your logic... if one student in Canada and another student in Sweden took same course and each one took the same re-tests and got equal points but at different times, the Swedish student should recieve a higher grade just because he took the re-test two months after the first test, while the Canadian student had a WHOLE(!) year to spend studying for it. Is that what you mean.. ?

    No, deadlines in school exist for practical reasons based on a reasonable time to finish something and has nothing to do with measuring knowledge and performance. If the time would also be a measuring factor, then you would also need to take into account and grade the students after how soon they would finish their assignments or tests etc BEFORE deadline. Or I should recieve higher grades if I finished my education on half the time. Yet I know no school who has applied that rule. Therefore the time to finish doesn't measure anything.
    To finish something within a certain time interval ONLY measures the result within that interval. It's also hard to know if one had gotten a better result if the time limit had been exceeded.

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  47. "LostInTraslation...Literally said...

    ^ @ LINUS

    I hear you guys have some great schools. no clue, personally, the grading system is too lax.

    comparing it to other countries, i find it easier to do well in school here because of the grading system, than in Canada, Africa, or Asia ( at least where i have studied). this is coming from a person with experience, I'm not just bashing sweden. definitely not.


    If studentA(95%~A or MVG)) and studentB(85%~B or MVG) will be competing for the same job, who do you think will get it??
    Not everyone that maintains an MVG average in Sweden ACTUALLY maintains an A average.

    top students in other countries are usually treated extra delicately and schools enforce more knowledge in their big heads, causing superior skills to a student in Sweden that receives a 100%MVG and a student that receives 85%MVG who are treated the same.

    I hope I'm not confusing anyone.

    for example. in Canada. we are graded by percentages, and each exam, homework assignment, quiz, etc, is a certain percentage of the final mark.
    we do not have MVG, VG,G,or U.

    we have 100% to 50% otherwise F.

    in America, its A+,A,A-,B+,B,B- etc.. all the way to F."

    @LostInTraslation...Literally


    You know.. you can argue as much as you want about which grading system is the best. But you shouldn't be so settled with a percentage scale as you never know if someone might get a grade he or she doesn't deserve! Why not chop it up even more down to NANO level to REALLY get the mathematically pin downed fairness your looking for?
    I guess you're a little happy now when the ECTS A-F system has been introduced here.

    But in the end... how much to you think an employer looks if you scored 80% or 90%? ..
    I bet you're too wet behind your ears to even been out in the real world and having a real job yet. Grades tells nothing about your character or how well you will execute your tasks at a work place. Education is one thing, work is something completely different and put other lots of other demands on you. A person with super high grades might be smart on the tests yes, but it might also reveal that he has less flattering sides such as being lazy (he didn't study but still aced) or having unsocial issues to adapt and cooperate.. and that's something most employers fear as it's something can become very costly.

    When it comes to hiring people and execute tasks there are so many many more things that actually are much more important than getting fixed with an 80% or 90% course grade. It may be everything from being able to cope stress to be a creative problem solver or cope to endure, motivation and willingness depending on the particular type of job, the work environment, boss and a multitude of other things that might affect. Sooner or later you'll discover that work can be a lot more demanding and challenging than acing tests, in many ways you'd never imagine.

    ..and I happen to know that your high school is a joke compared to a swedish gymnasium as well. This come from a friend's brother of mine who went for an exchange year in Ottawa some years ago. He told me it was almost ridiculous with multichoice questions and went out with straight A's without any effort. I guess it's the same system as in US of A as US and Canada is same shit but different name to me. I've experienced high school in the US as an exchange student and all I remember was that everything but the academics seem to matter. Nobody seemed to care much for the grades and told me all the extra curricular were just as important to be able to get into college. Huh? This tells something about the North American mindset. I found it strange only.

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  48. @HairySwede

    In what way would higher grades reflecting the ability to learn faster necessarily be beneficial info for an employer?

    I see no point with this at all.
    A person who aced straight through on the first tries tells nothing about if that person is willing to also take on and being able to execute tasks that he would find to be less engaging for some reason.
    Compare it with a person who maybe had to take the tests 5 times but did so because he really wanted to learn and was willing to sacrifice alot for it. Then it might be better to actually go for the latter one as he possesses both the required knowledge AND the endurance and the willing to learn new things and work hard with a clear goal, even if it's considered boring if that's what mainly matters in the job.

    So, logically, if someone's grades would reflect the actual knowledge and the ability to learn quickly as a way to measure the suitability for a job, isn't it also fair to say that another person's grades would reflect the actual knowledge together with OTHER more relevant abilities than learning speed for a particular job? ..
    If so.. it's unfair and illogical to give the one who's the fastest learner a higher grade if having equal points.

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  49. Also.. By this reasoning it means that a student who's made a re-test might get the same grades as someone
    who scored less on the first test for the sake of learning speed.
    Their knowledge differ and yet they might recieve the same grades. Right. I see. Very fair.

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  50. "LostInTraslation...Literally said...

    Ive had ALOT of arguments over this with my swedish friends and my professors.

    like you said, I don't want someone to get the same mark as me when I worked harder, do my assigment on time and passed. As to someone who didnt try too hard mulitple times, and did bare minimal.
    they do this for exams as well. I'm all for re-examinations. But not more than once. students are allowed to retake an exam as many times as they want. Most teacher(from the cats mouth) dont even change the re-takes, they are the same ones, and they give back the old exam papers AND questions back to the student. Basically its a game of memorizing afterwards.

    There is no incentive to try hard."



    @LostinTraslation

    Hm. Who says someone had to work harder to pass on the first test? It might well be a person who did it with minimal effort the first time while another person had to struggle through three re-tests to pass.
    So which one should recieve the highest grade if they got the same score? The one who WORKED HARDEST but was the slower one, or the one who did in the SHORTEST TIME but was laziest? .. Is it about measuring level of effort or speed here? Please make up your mind.



    I say you're full of bull and seem to be totally obsessed with lots of irrelevant things. Knowledge is about what you actually KNOW and not have long it took you to learn it or how hard you worked for it. Who the hell would benefit from the info about if it took you half an hour, one hour or 15 mins to ace a test?! .. It's so inconsistent and without insights what it's all about.

    What about people who has pre-knowledge before a course starts, should they get lower grades due to that? If so, people are constantly "cheating" unknowingly at Harvard, Princeton, Yale and Camebridge because nobody cares for it. As opposed to you they know what knowledge is about.

    The re-test isn't EXACTLY as the first test. That would just like studying for the test and not the actual knowledge. Have you done any re-tests at all? If the same questions (God forbid) yet would occur, well blame the lazy teacher doing wrong, not a whole system. I've never ever experienced that myself as a student for many years and I've taken quite a few re-tests through the years. The re-test can only be passed with a 'pass' or 'E' as highest grade no matter the result. This works as an incentive to make students try pass on the first test for several economical reasons.

    You still know how much you scored got on the tests, no matter the grade system. A more accurate personal incentive is hard to get. Write it down and lock it up if it's such a big deal.
    An employer however, doesn't care that much for grades as you might think so for an incentive it's works pretty bad.
    They will hardly care if you scored 80,90 or 95% no matter where it is in the world. Work is alot more than grades even though it's not totally unimportant. I can notice you're being very naive and probably don't have much real life experience.

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  51. "There are moments when I struggle to fit into Swedish society. Luckily, there are also moments when I force myself to fit into Swedish society. I did not act on my immediate impulse to raise my hand and ask why.

    We moved along to how we all were going to get through the classes we were taking. Goals are good. But don’t aim too high. Don’t want to be let down when you don’t achieve them. Seriously. This was the advice given. Don’t set your goals too high. Like MVG. G might just be good enough for you.

    So on the one hand, we are told that we can keep trying until we get that MVG, but on the other hand, some of us should just not try. Which makes perfect sense.

    Welcome to Sweden. And Swedish adult education."

    Nothing wrong with putting up realistic goals I think. Is it possible to reach anything else in reality? You have to keep in mind that it's adult education we're talking about where many aren't that young anymore, perhaps passed 45-50 and don't learn as fast as young people do. For them it's probably not as important to ACE all the damn tests as for a 20-something student with a brain like sponge who's got his whole life and career on stake and might reconsider to do something else if he would fail the 5:th time. The adults however, might have lots other reasons from just learning new things to meeting new people or whatever.
    With this in mind I think the teacher simply meant that you should try to do as hard as you can after each and one's own's abilities as usual. It's great to set high goals but what's the point really to blame oneself if you didn't ace, but yet tried as hard as you could to reach your potentional when being that old? Instead you should be proud that you "aced" yourself. Especially if you've passed 50 and perhaps went to school last time like 35 years ago.

    You know... reading through your posts here you seem to be incredibly uninformed and ignorant on many issues and don't even seem to be very interested in taking on a native perspective on things. I'd recommend you to pick up a thick book on Sweden's history to get a different view. Much can be said about this country but it's quite pointless and uninteresting to read when it's all through an American perspective.

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  52. @Lostintranslation

    Why not take a look out at the outcome instead? .. A certain grading system or a method to teach tells nothing how the education performs for a task or job in real life if you have no experience from using it. You must ask yourself the right questions first and take several things in consideration before you can judge.. questions like..
    ..What purpose, philosophy and goals are there for a certain education and how do the teaching methods accomodate it?
    For which environment is it designed for? Domestic? International?

    One education might work great in Canada, France or Germany but doesn't necessarily match very well with the Swedish or Scandinavian society and culture. You have to take many more things in perspective here than just view everything through Canadian glasses.

    Let me show you an example of that defining what constitutes a "high quality" education isn't as easy to define as you might seem to think.
    You claim you have experience from studying in Asia. You didn't write which country or countries but you yet claim it's superior to the education in Sweden. However, I read an article by a Chinese professor within the teacher education field in China. According to him the Chinese school system lacks severly on developing creative skills among the Chinese students. He said that in China schools everything is about memorizing lots of facts and rote learning than to actually learn how to learn how to solve problems in the real world by training to connect theory with practice. Nobody is encouraged to ask questions or think critically as the teacher knows best and can't be questioned by any means.
    Students might have a very tough time to take in all those ready facts in the Chinese schools which they are supposed to regurgitate later. And perhaps it's the reason why they always get top notch scores on all the PISA tests. But is it RELEVANT for the goal to produce students with great analytical and creative skills? The answer No.
    He further said that he has proposed a change in the school system to train the students to become more creative.

    From a Swedish point of view I can tell you that several well known telecom companies such as Ericsson in China have very big issues with this when hiring Chinese engineers. The Chinese seem be totally unable to come up with creative solutions to problems or take initiatives because they weren't trained that way in school. No, the teacher knows everything, don't ask any questions, no time for reflection that makes up for deep learning and real comprehension. All in all, they're just producing a bunch of robots it seems.

    So, you may ask yourself which system is the best in relation to the actual goals here; The Swedish education system, which you consider as inferior or the Chinese? .. Perhaps by now you should reconsider some things regarding the system here that you have stated earlier.

    It's also pointless and unfair to compre a small state funded college in Sweden with privately much more well funded Canadian colleges. The smaller colleges here don't get near as much funding as the much larger schools like KTH, Chalmers, Uppsala tekniska, LTH or LiTH do which highly affects the education quality of course. I wouldn't believe for a second that EVERY Canadian college is on the decent level either. I have no proof of it, but you can't prove that they are either as I highly doubt you have experienced them all.

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  53. I once had a girl friend who was as cocky as you about her grades when we went in school together. She was later enrolled in the Science program at gymnasium (AP level maths and science) while I chose technical gymnasium, which was somewhat equivalent to hers, but more focused on techie stuff.
    Anyway, later she and some of my friends got accepted for the civil engineering in computer science program at Chalmers technical college.
    It only took her some year before she had to reconsiderate her entitlement to be as cocky about her brains as she used to be. The school literally TOOK HER DOWN to earth, and there she remained for the rest of the 3,5 years that was left before graduation. Once in a while I got reports from my other friends on the same program that they really had to struggle at times to barely pass, despite being top graduates from my class at the technical gymnasium(!)

    So, everything is far from being on the same level everywhere here and one crappy education shouldn't be used as a tool to judge the rest.


    From my friends' experiences I doubt you'd be annoyed by re-tests or bad grade systems anymore if you took a CS program at KTH, Chalmers or LTH in Lund as your priorities would probably change quite radically. Rather you would be happy if you even passed on the re-tests.

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  54. thanks for all of the comments. Like I wrote on the other post about education that received several extremely long comments, I am basing this on my own lived experiences and those of many friends and family members. It's a blog post meant to give a general idea on what I experienced while living here.

    And regardless, since teaching at the university level for four years, my beliefs and opinions about education have changed quite a bit. That being said, there's still plenty that could be done to improve the education systems in both Sweden and the US.

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