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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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VII. Simulating Society: The Norra Latin Summer Residence in Stockholm, 1938–65

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Much like sociology discovered society in the nineteenth century, it might be argued that educationalists discovered society in the twentieth century. The most recent century meant the breakthrough for mass schooling as well as democracy, making schools important places for fostering citizens. However, the discovery of society, exemplified by the introduction of social studies in schools, might be described as a paradoxical discovery. It rested on the fact that the social category that was supposed to study society – pupils – at the same time was separated from it. One way of counteracting this tendency has been to create lessons that blur the boundary between school and society, either by going outside of the school (e.g. on field trips) or by making classroom lessons concrete and close to social reality. Sometimes this has been done by creating different kinds of simulations of social life that have been used to convey knowledge of society in a more concrete way. In this essay, I will consider an institution that took this method further than most others: the Norra Latin summer residence. Founded in 1938, it was a summer camp for grammar school boys. Initially the idea was to provide pupils whose parents otherwise could not afford it an opportunity to spend time in the country. Gradually the idea shifted toward something more ambitious. The summer residence came to resemble a miniature society, a social simulation that emulated many of the institutions of society-at-large. A small “hospital”, a newspaper, radio station, political parties,...

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