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Beyond the Classroom

Studies on Pupils and Informal Schooling Processes in Modern Europe


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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VI. Remembering School: Autobiographical Depictions of Daily School Life in Sweden, 1918–80


In this essay, I approach the social life of school children through autobiographical texts. Contemporary research has shown that everyday interaction with peers is as significant a factor in pupils’ experience of school as their informal learning and social development.1 There is no reason to believe that this situation was radically different in the past. But what do they remember of such mundane aspects of this part of their lives and how do they interpret them in retrospect, long after graduation? Do their memories and interpretation of the social aspects of school life differ depending on the kind of school they attended? Moreover, what can be recovered from their autobiographies for the benefit of educational historians? It is generally assumed that the genre, like other literary texts but unlike many of the sources more frequently used in this field, has the potential to reveal otherwise covert emotional aspects of school life. With this in mind, I take the “emotional turn” in historical research.2 Thus far, study of the emotional aspect of school has been rare, though it has the potential to develop rapidly and offer profound insights.3 ← 123 | 124 →

In search of stories about peer relationships in school, I have read a number of Swedish autobiographies. I have found the books in different ways – library catalogs, prior knowledge, tips from friends and colleagues – and have systematically selected authors from two groups with respect to age. One includes seven authors born between 1957 and 1968 who attended...

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