Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Consistent picture of the ideal teacher and the ideal pupil in school policy documents

A thesis from the University of Gothenburg on school policy documents shows that the ideal pupil and the ideal teacher are supposed to be naturally curious and have an inherent will to learn as a means of increasing Sweden's economic competitiveness. "The argument that education should contribute to democracy or solidarity has taken a back seat," says author Lena Sjöberg.

Lena Sjöberg, a PhD student at the University of Gothenburg and lecturer at University West in Trollhättan, has critically reviewed various types of policy document from the 1940s through to today.

These include government reports and bills, European Commission texts, Swedish Teachers' Union campaign materials, and student teachers' examination assignments.

"A relatively consistent, and so powerful, picture emerges of the ideal teacher and the ideal pupil today," says Sjöberg. "They constantly want to learn more and be mobile, creative, flexible and productive."

Sjöberg notes the large number of systems and techniques created since the 1990s to steer pupils and teachers in the right direction, such as national testing, teacher licensing, developmental dialogues and personal development plans.

Extensive control

"These systems and techniques have come at the same time that schools have been deregulated and decentralised. There is much talk about the competent student and the professional teacher, but in practice there is a big gap between the rhetoric and the extensive control that has been built up."

The policy documents also reveal a lack of consensus on how the teaching personality is formed. From the mid-1960s until the early 1980s, the documents suggested that teacher training could actually mould the teaching personality, and this view is still around today.

Genetic predisposition

A competing view is that a teacher needs certain inherent personality traits, as expressed in the 2007 government report on teacher training HUT 07, which argues that teachers need to have an aptitude for the profession: "However good the training is, it cannot create the good teacher that children and pupils need if he or she does not have the essentials for successfully pursuing the profession," the report says.

"This is an echo from the mid-20th century," says Sjöberg. "It was also said back then that teachers need to have a certain natural predisposition."

"This is probably part of the personal characteristics that cannot to any great extent be influenced by teacher training," states a bill from the 1950s.

There are therefore parallels between the mid-20th century and today - but there is also a big difference:

"Back then, schools were considered first and foremost to have a democratic role. Today, there is instead an economic rationality that prevails - the aim of education is now primarily to increase our competitiveness in the global economy and ideally take Sweden to the top of the class. This change in how the role of education is perceived can be seen not only in the Swedish documents but also in the European Commission texts.

For further information, please contact:
Lena Sjöberg, tel: +46 (0)70 993 2309, e-mail:
Bibliographic data:
Journal: (EDUCARE, (1),73-99. 2010
Title: ”Same same, but different”. En genealogisk studie av den 'goda' läraren, den 'goda' eleven och den 'goda' skolan i svenska lärarutbildningsreformer 1940-2008,

Author: Sjöberg, Lena.

Helena Aaberg | idw
Further information:

More articles from Social Sciences:

nachricht Making backup plans can be a self-fulfilling prophecy
01.12.2015 | Universität Zürich

nachricht Thickness of grey matter predicts ability to recognize faces and objects
10.11.2015 | Vanderbilt University

All articles from Social Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: How do Landslides control the weathering of rocks?

Chemical weathering in mountains depends on the process of erosion.

Chemical weathering of rocks over geological time scales is an important control on the stability of the climate. This weathering is, in turn, highly dependent...

Im Focus: How Cells in the Developing Ear ‘Practice’ Hearing

Before the fluid of the middle ear drains and sound waves penetrate for the first time, the inner ear cells of newborn rodents practice for their big debut. Researchers at Johns Hopkins report they have figured out the molecular chain of events that enables the cells to make “sounds” on their own, essentially “practicing” their ability to process sounds in the world around them.

The researchers, who describe their experiments in the Dec. 3 edition of the journal Cell, show how hair cells in the inner ear can be activated in the absence...

Im Focus: Climate study finds evidence of global shift in the 1980s

Planet Earth experienced a global climate shift in the late 1980s on an unprecedented scale, fuelled by anthropogenic warming and a volcanic eruption, according to new research published this week.

Scientists say that a major step change, or ‘regime shift’, in the Earth’s biophysical systems, from the upper atmosphere to the depths of the ocean and from...

Im Focus: Innovative Photovoltaics – from the Lab to the Façade

Fraunhofer ISE Demonstrates New Cell and Module Technologies on its Outer Building Façade

The Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE has installed 70 photovoltaic modules on the outer façade of one of its lab buildings. The modules were...

Im Focus: Lactate for Brain Energy

Nerve cells cover their high energy demand with glucose and lactate. Scientists of the University of Zurich now provide new support for this. They show for the first time in the intact mouse brain evidence for an exchange of lactate between different brain cells. With this study they were able to confirm a 20-year old hypothesis.

In comparison to other organs, the human brain has the highest energy requirements. The supply of energy for nerve cells and the particular role of lactic acid...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

European Geosciences Union meeting: Media registration now open (EGU 2016 media advisory 1)

01.12.2015 | Event News

Urbanisation and migration from rural areas challenging agriculture in Eastern Europe

30.11.2015 | Event News

Fraunhofer’s Urban Futures Conference: 2 days in the city of the future

25.11.2015 | Event News

Latest News

USGS projects large loss of Alaska permafrost by 2100

01.12.2015 | Earth Sciences

New study reveals what's behind a tarantula's blue hue

01.12.2015 | Life Sciences

Climate Can Grind Mountains Faster Than They Can Be Rebuilt

01.12.2015 | Earth Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>