17 SES 09, Paper Session
Psychology has been a pre-tertiary school subject in Sweden for close to two hundred years varying in content, form and the intended recipient. Since the upper secondary school reform in the 1960s it is a part of the national curriculum. The purpose of this study is to highlight transformations within in the upper secondary school subject psychology in Sweden in the years of 1965 to 2017 by examining different discourses as provided by syllabi, curricula and other policy documents. In particular, expressions concerning how the subject psychology aim to educate the student into being a mindful democratic citizen, to develop skills that will guide the student in a world described as being in rapid change and with an overflow of information, as well as to develop an awareness and tolerance for themselves, other people and nationalities, all highly relevant issues in today’s society.
In the more than one hundred years coming up to the Swedish national upper secondary school reform in 1960s, the subject psychology had been present in various curricula in different contexts. Possibly most common as a part of the philosophy course together with logic (e.g., Snellman, 1837; Sundén & Sjöstedt, 1952; Kungliga Skolöverstyrelsen, 1960), but also as one half of the anthropology course (e.g., Lindhult, 1843), as a part of the Christianity course (Anna Detthowska skolan, 1934) and, as a subject of its own (e.g., Enberg, 1831; Larsson, 1898; Ahlberg, 1925;). In 1965, the curriculum for the modern “gymnasium”, the Swedish equivalent of upper secondary school, was announced and as a result of that psychology was made a subject of its own. (Lgy 65; Skolöverstyrelsen, 1965). The new national upper secondary school aimed to provide a general civic education of the students as well as to serve as a preparation for higher education by making the students develop elementary scientific insight (Larsson & Westberg, 2015, p.137). In this this upper secondary school of 1965, psychology was mandatory for all students and considered an important part of the curriculum, and also an important part in the preparing of the student to be the citizens of the future. Following the 1965 revision three additional major revisions has taken place, Lgy 70, Lpf 94 and Gy 2011 (Skolöverstyrelsen, 1970; Skolverket 1994; 2011). Although not mandatory on all university preparatory or vocational programs in Sweden today, psychology still is an upper secondary school subject.
The purpose of this study to illuminate portrayed meanings in the school subject psychology in the time period of 1965 – 2017, and to highlight the following:
- communicated meaning concerning fostering the future citizens, and related shifts and transformations within the school subject psychology
The overall focus in this study of the upper secondary school subject psychology in Sweden is the meaning that is mediated in curricula and other policy documents accompanying the subject. To study what is present, what is emphasized and what is left out and not mentioned in the texts. The methodical aim is to perform a comprehensive archaeological discourse analysis (Foucault, 1972). To capture the meaning portrayed in the documents surrounding the subject and texts explaining the concept by studying formations and conceptual patterns within the studied material and to uncloak ideas hidden within the school subject psychology and to explore concept displacements and correlations (Foucault, 1972; Rorty, 1979, 1982). The empirical source material consists of syllabi, curricula and policy documents related to the Upper Secondary School Curriculum of 1965 (Skolöverstyrelsen, 1965), the Upper Secondary School of 1970 (Skolöverstyrelsen, 1975), The 1994 Curriculum for the Non-Compulsory School System (Skolverket, 1994) and Upper Secondary School 2011 (Skolverket 2011). These studied syllabi, curricula and policy texts differ in format, length and content. For instance, the curriculum of 1965 is very explicit regarding the content and teaching instructions and the curriculum of 2011 is more abstract and short. Nevertheless, the aim is to grasp the mediated meaning of the curricula, considering that is what school leaders, teachers, students and others come in contact with when searching for information about the subject.
Expected findings are discourses concerning the motivation behind and educational ambition within the upper secondary school subject psychology. Especially regarding how the aim to educate the student in to being a mindful democratic citizen, to develop skills that will guide the student in a changing world and in a society laden with information, and the development of awareness and tolerance for themselves, other people and nationalities is expressed. For instance, how the subject has transformed from an explicitly student-centered approach emphasizing also student and teacher autonomy towards a more theoretical and fact oriented focus and a set course content. Another discourse concerns how the society consistently through the curricula is expressed as rapidly changing with a large flow of information and that the subject psychology is to assist the student to develop an ability to master this, perhaps especially when it comes to dealing with false or misleading information. An issue that seems to be as present and relevant today as in the past. Also, an additional discourse is in relation to the ambition to help students develop tolerance and understanding of both others' and their own positions in the group, society and the world, transforms in character throughout the audits of the curricula. Overall, even though the aim of the psychology subject on upper secondary level has in some views remained the same it has also fundamentally changed in its relation to contemporary society and democracy, and the educational ambition with the subject psychology today is another from what it was when it was introduced in the curricula.
Anna Detthowska skolan (1934). Normalplan för Annaskolan - Detthowska skolan omfattande kurser och böcker. [Curriculum for the Anna school – the Detthowsk school including courses and books.] Stockholm: Bröderna Johanssons boktryckeri. Ahlberg, A. (1925). Lärobok i psykologi. [Textbook in Psychology.] Sweden: Almqvist & Wiksells Förlag. Enberg. L.M. (1831). Försök till en lärobok i psykologien af L-M- Enberg. [Attempt to Textbook in Psychology by L-M Enberg.] Stockholm. Foucault. M. (1972). The Archeology of Knowledge and the discourse of language. New York: Phanteon books. Larsson, H. (1898). Lärobok i psykologi på empirisk grund. [Textbook in Psychology on Emprical Basis.] Stockholm: Norstedts. Larsson, E. & Westberg, J. (red.) (2015). Utbildningshistoria: en introduktion. (2. uppl.) [Educational History: An Introduction. 2nd ed.] Lund: Studentlitteratur. Lindhult, Hans A. (1843), Utkast till lärobok i anthropologien och psychologien för elementar-undervisningen. [Textbook draft in Anthropology and Psychology for Elementary Teaching] Uppsala. Rorty, R. (1979). Philosophy and the mirror of science. Princeton University Press. Rorty, R. (1982). Consequences of pragmatism: (essays: 1972-1980). Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Snellman, Johan V. (1837), Philosofisk elementar-curs: Psychologi. [Philosophic Elementary course: Psychology] Stockholm: Zacharias Haeggström. Skolöverstyrelsen (1965). Lgy 65. Läroplan för gymnasiet. [Curriculum for Upper Secondary School.] Stockholm: SÖ-förlaget Skolöverstyrelsen (1970). Lgy 70. Läroplan för gymnasieskolan. Allmän del. [Curriculum for Upper Secondary School. 1, General part.] Stockholm: utbildningsförlaget. Skolverket (1994). Läroplaner för det obligatoriska skolväsendet och de frivilliga skolformerna: Lpo 94: Lpf 94 [Curricula for Compulsory and Non-compulsory Schools: Lpo 94: Lpf 94.] Skolverket (2011a). Gymnasieskola 2011. [Upper Secondary School 2011.] Skolverket (2011b). Ämne – psykologi. [Subject – Psychology.] Sundén, H. & Sjöstedt, C. E. (1952). Lärobok i filosofi. Del I: Psykologi. [Textbook in Philosophy. Part I: Psychology.] Stockholm: Natur & Kultur. Wedin, T. (2017). In praise of the present: the pupil at centre in Swedish educational politics in the post-war period. History of Education, 46(6), pp 768-786.
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