I have been a teacher all my life for the better part of 30 years and I have seen many of the different education experiments that governments have tried in the United Kingdom. The new Education Act (2010), which it's authors claim (accurately) to be radical, has as one of its objectives to improve Sweden's abysmal school performance record which has been on the decline now for many years, with the rate of student High School dropout as high as 25% compared, for example, with the 10% rate in the USA. But does the new methodology, which regiments school teaching and makes a universal curriculum for all types of Swedish schools (state as well as independent), stand any chance of working? It is my contention that all it will succeed in doing is placing impossibly heavy burdens on Sweden's already over-worked teachers (I have been though this and know the hell all the extra paperwork was like), further stifle creativity and probably make a neglegible difference to educational standards, quite apart from standing a chance of controlling bullying, bad language and the drug culture.
As we have already seen Education Minister Jan Björklund and head of the Swedish Liberal Party views teachers as mental surgeons who must be state certified. This is particularly interesting as Minister Björklund has no teaching qualifications himself and received his entire education in the army. He also either has zero knowledge of homeschooling or how 'uncertified' parents not only are able to do as good a job as teachers but in many cases considerably better...or he knows but dismisses the many scientific studies that prove homeschooling's effectiveness because they do not fit in with his political agenda. It is ideology, not science, that steers the government, despite all the claims to the contrary.
Sweden now has one of the most restrictive state-controlled systems in the whole world, a system more reminiscent of communist and fascists states than of a democratic one.
School and college students who express views contrary to the politically-correct ones of the current régime get reduced marks and grades. It therefore 'pays' them to not express independent opinions but simply to say and write what is expected. In this continuous-assessment system grades are everything and students who disagree with the official state view of morality (for example) suffer. Thus one girl I know of, who wrote a careful and academically sound critique of feminism, was failed because her politics were 'not correct'. The principal of the school was angry with her. She failed to comply with what is ridiculously touted as the most 'universal and objective' education available for students in the world...according to the government's propaganda machine, that is. According to them, because the nrew curriculum is so perfect, homeschooling and alternative curricula are superfluous. And with the same pompous high-minded attitude with which they declared their infallible system they dismissed homeschooling as basically irrelevant.
Now I refuse to believe that the people who are spouting this trash are really that ignorant. Their perfunctory, dismissive and contemptuous behaviour towards homeschoolers demonstrates the same kind of arrogance that finds a breeding ground in all totalitarian socities - the truth is not what interests them, but only their religion - pardon me, their socialist utopianism. Have they learned nothing from the 20th century?
At the end of the autumn of 2009 and what was ironically known as the 'consultatiion period' in which various views were supposedly considered (personally, I think this was just a sham to give the appearance of democracy and that this law had been planned for years in advance), a paper was published on 15 December with its recommendations. The little freedom previously granted to independent schools was to be completely removed:
"The Government or the authority which the Government may issue detailed regulations on the curriculum. Such regulations may mean deviations for independent schools with a particular educational approach" (Chapter 10, §4 of the Old Law).
Under the new system all schools must follow exactly the same curriculum, something that Education Minister Jan Björklund was at pains to stress during a press conference. The National Agency for Education has now developed a new curriculum that completely replaces the only Lpo04. The former guidlines have been replaced by detailed curriculum that tells the teachers absoluitely every detail that must be taught. Moreoever, teachers must now regularly file reports on each pupil to confirm that these details have been taught and how the student responded. Each student now has a detailed dossier on nearly everything a pupil says of believes about any particular subject. I have seen them - even the pupils have to sign them. We had a cellar full of filing cabinets with these reports which could never be of any use except to some thought police.
When the governent talks about "diversity in education" please remember that what it really means is "diversity in school buildings" and not diversity in pedagogical approaches. Now there is only one (state-approved) pedagogical approach, one curriculum, one way to teach, one (essentially Marxist) philosophical underpinning, and so forth. Yes, other systems of politics, philosophy and religion are taught but only within the context of what the state believes to be true. Thus while, for instance, 'religious schools' continue to exist, they are required to teach exactly the same curruculum as state schools; and while they are permitted to hold prayer meetings they are to be done in such a way as though there is no basis of reality in them. In other words, prayer, when it is permitted, is to be viewed as something cultural only. The underlying assumption is that only Marxist humanism is objective reality.
The government owns all schools - state and independent - and teaches them all the same thing. The 'diversity' claim is a complete lie.
With the signing of the Lisbon Treaty, European Law came into effect on 1 December 2009 which commits its various provinces (pardon me, countries) to offering educational diversity. In this respect Sweden totally fails to uphold its treaty obligations and is presumably taking the attitude that since Germany has managed to get away with banning homeschooling (according to its own 1938 Education Act from the Nazi era) that they too can also get away with ignoring EU law. German National Socialist (Nazi) law is not a good thing to emulate...unless you're a nazi.
How has the Swedish government got away with this piece of blatant totalitarian legislation? To his credit, Jan Björklund is a gifted politician and has made many attractive promises to various segments of the population, especially the working class. He is also a good soldier. But as an educationalist, I have nothing complimentary to say whatsoever. The truth is, this piece of legislation was formulated by the ubiquitous bureaucracy years before the Conservative-Liberal Coalition took office and was in reality the brainchild of the 'socialist' government before it, which as we have seen elsewhere gets its inspiration (along with the bureaurocracy) from the now defunct communist state of East Germany (DDR). Björklund has got away with it because this has been something that has been prepared for a very long time with all the public behavioural conditioning along the way.
All that remains now is the Swedish equivalent of the German Communist Freies Deutsche Jugend or 'Free German Youth'. The unforms may be absent but the grey spirit of conformism is very definitely present. 'Diversity' is just a Swedish Orwellian Newspeak propaganda word twhich means the opposite of what its dictionary definition, just like 'children's rights'. Everything is now 'by the state, of the state, and for the state' and what we are seeing is the socially engineered, cookie-cut New Swedish Marxist Man dressed in the clothes of the capitalist West.
In his 2010 General Election posters, Björklund's message was simple and effective:
"Framtiden börjar i klassrummet - The Future Begins in the Classroom"
Yes, but who's future? Certainly not the child's. What is his or her future in Björklund's World? He will become an unthinking, uncritical state corporation cog-in-the wheel. The morat fanatical nazis were those brought up in the classroom to think in the state's way. Those who began their education in 1933 when the nazis took power in Germany completed it in 1941 and entered military service. They're probably the main reason Nazi Germany held out so long because their were mental puppet's of the state. Sweden may not be recreating the Third Reich but they are certainly creating something remarkably like it called the Third Way or 'Europism' for what Sweden has learned is being applied to the European Union of which Sweden is now a mere province. And the ëlites who have created this system, whilst speaking in the name of the people and claiming to serve the people, are ostensibly just doing this for themselves. They belong to a new super-class whose goal is the elimination of individualism and of diversity. Björklund's Act is simply another step on the ladder towards this pie-in-the-sky sameness utopia. And woe betide you if you're different because here in the Social Paradise everyone has to fit in the same grey box.