Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Working Paper Series,
Research Institute of Industrial Economics

No 1338: The Fatal Conceit: Swedish Education after Nazism

Gabriel Heller Sahlgren () and Johan Wennström ()
Additional contact information
Gabriel Heller Sahlgren: Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN), Postal: Research Institute of Industrial Economics, Box 55665, SE-102 15 Stockholm, Sweden
Johan Wennström: Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN), Postal: Research Institute of Industrial Economics, Box 55665, SE-102 15 Stockholm, Sweden

Abstract: In the aftermath of the Second World War, Sweden dismantled an education system that was strongly influenced by German, Neo-Humanist pedagogical principles in favor of a progressive, student-centered system. This article suggests this was in large part due to a fatal misinterpretation of the education policy on which Nazism was predicated. Contrary to scholarly and popular belief, Nazi schools were not characterized by discipline and run top-down by teachers. In fact, the Nazis encouraged a nationwide youth rebellion in schools. Many Nazi leaders had themselves experienced the belligerent, child-centered war pedagogy of 1914–1918 rather than a traditional German education. Yet, Swedish school reformers came to regard Neo-Humanism as a fulcrum of the Third Reich. The article suggests this mistake paved the way for a school system that inadvertently came to share certain traits with the true educational credo of Nazism and likely contributed to Sweden’s recent educational decline.

Keywords: National Socialism; Neo-Humanism; Progressivism; Sweden; War pedagogy

JEL-codes: D70; E65; I20; I28; N44

41 pages, May 14, 2020

Full text files

wp1338.pdf PDF-file Full text

Download statistics

Questions (including download problems) about the papers in this series should be directed to Elisabeth Gustafsson ()
Report other problems with accessing this service to Sune Karlsson ().

This page generated on 2021-10-19 15:39:07.