Chapter 6 Arguing for a Modern Subject

The Debate about Science Teaching in Swedish Grammar Schools in the Early 19th Century

In: Exploring Textbooks and Cultural Change in Nordic Education 1536–2020

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Abstract

Though a number of Swedish grammar schools had been offering science education during the 18th century, by the early 19th century science was still missing in the official curriculum. Introducing science, primarily botany, as a school subject became a central feature in the debates on the need of modernising public education by a broadened and more differentiated curriculum. The chapter discusses some of the main arguments by proponents of science education, such as its practical usefulness and cultivating effects on pupils, but also the objections raised by more conservative voices. While practical usefulness might have been a sufficient cause for local schools to offer botanic instruction, it was not necessarily enough to persuade the national opinion to amend school ordinances. An interesting observation is how science in the debates was adapted to dominant ideas of grammar schools to justify its place, in a way that modern day sciences does not need.

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