Course of events in the Swedish equivalent of infant schools

Britten Ekstrand

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (monograph)


Some fields in the research about the history of childcare in the nineteenth century in Sweden is lacking. In popular textbooks infant schools (småbarnsskolor) are thought of and described as a pedagogical and social activity, while a later phenomenon, the nursery schools, seemed to lack all pedagogical insight, care-taking was exclusively at hand. I have questioned this dichotomy. What happened to the infant schools when nursery schools appeared? My intention has been to focus on pedagogical change in infant schools. I had to start with a description of infant schools in Sweden, answering the questions when, where, how and why infant schools appeared and how they developed. Traces from infant schools in ten cities have been thoroughly examined and followed over the years. About thirty infant schools have existed. All of these are referred to, which have been possible thanks to anniversary publications and scientific documents in a mix. Focusing on pedagogical change and development, and inspired by the frame factor theory, I have analyzed organizational and economical factors, factors concerning the teachers, the children and the schoolwork. Factors concerning the management, the school control and the administration show an astonishingly rigid form over more than a century. The age of the children however, as well as qualifications and titles of the teachers change according to the pedagogical change. Two very clear phases in the history of infant schools can be distinguished. In the early years the infant schools in Sweden worked as primary schools. Moving on to the late 19th century, there was an institutional change in those infant schools, which had not been part of the national school system. The institutions were organized as nursery schools in which the pioneers of Froebelian work in Sweden appear. They continued to direct their work towards children from the lower classes. The results are discussed in a social, economic, political and ideological context. Above all the close relationship to three fields is recognized. These are the national school system at the time, the growing acknowledgement of psychology with the changing view of the child and the education of women. The domains are reflected about in relation to the course of events in infant schools in Sweden. In an attempt to understand the material some terms belonging to Pierre Bourdieus epistemological theory are used in the discussion.
Translated title of the contributionCourse of events in the Swedish equivalent of infant schools
Original languageSwedish
Awarding Institution
  • Education
  • [unknown], [unknown], Supervisor, External person
Award date2000 Nov 3
Print ISBNs91-628-2983-1
Publication statusPublished - 2000

Bibliographical note

Defence details

Date: 2000-11-03
Time: 10:15
Place: N/A

External reviewer(s)

Name: Ödman, Per Johan
Title: Prof.
Affiliation: [unknown]


Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Educational Sciences


  • educational history
  • Infant schools
  • school history
  • transition
  • long term educational change
  • frame factor theory
  • pioneers of Froebelian work.
  • nursery schools
  • Comparative and historical pedagogy
  • Jämförande och historisk pedagogik


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