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Beyond the Classroom

Studies on Pupils and Informal Schooling Processes in Modern Europe

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Edited By Anna Larsson and Björn Norlin

The research on educational history has traditionally focused on its institutional, political and pedagogical aspects, more or less habitually analyzing schooling as a top-down, adult-controlled phenomenon. Even if change has been visible during the last decades, there still remain important topics that are rarely discussed in the field. These topics include practices related to day-to-day school life that are not part of the formal curriculum or classroom routine, but which nevertheless allow pupils to become actively involved in their own schooling. This book provides historical case studies on such extracurricular and informal schooling processes. It argues that the awareness of such topics is essential to our understanding of school settings – in both past and present.
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IV. The Nordic Secondary School Youth Movement: Pupil Exchange in the Era of Educational Modernization, 1870–1914

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The period from the 1870s to the outbreak of the First World War constituted an intense phase of modernization in the Nordic countries, a period during which recurrent reforms helped to shape whole new educational systems. Parallel to this, pupils at grammar school-level in Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland initiated a vibrant, albeit short-lived, youth movement. The present essay investigates this cooperation and exchange of ideas between pupils at Nordic upper secondary schools. Its aim is to highlight local, provincial and transnational aspects of exchange and culture building among secondary school youth, and to examine the basic ← 83 | 84 → principals promoted by this transnational school youth movement – or “Nordic Youth Movement”, as it was referred to by some of its members.1 The intention is also to examine its resemblance to other youth movements of the time, as well as its impact on schooling as a social experience. In doing so, this essay wishes to draw attention to the active role of pupils in the creation of institutional life, and to the dialectics of the formal structural change of education and intramural processes connected to day-to-day schooling. The situation in Sweden provides the factual focal point insofar as Swedish school youth organizations and association archives provide the main sources for the investigation.2

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