A conflict among geniuses: challenges to the classical paradigm in Sweden, 1828–1832

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This article examines challenges to the classical paradigm of education in Sweden that followed in the wake of state-initiated attempts at school reform in the first decades of the nineteenth century. When the internal disputes of the so-called ‘Genius Committee’ resulted in a failure to overcome the increasing divide between reformers, a prolific opportunity to argue the value of practical subjects and natural science arose. This article demonstrates that this conflict over knowledge was characterised by a humanistic consensus that rested on the idea of formal education as well as on the shared commitment to a moral education. As a result, challengers attempted to attribute the same value that gave classical study its supremacy over their rival subjects. The article argues that this aspect of the European educational debates is an overlooked key to understanding the continued relevance of classical education throughout the nineteenth century.


  • Isak Hammar
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • History
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages18
JournalHistory of Education
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2018 Dec 13
Publication categoryResearch