Students are losing their footing in the Swedish classrooms, and the problems start before they even enter.
”We Swedes see ourselves as the kindest of people. This has led to the most unruly classrooms,” says David Eberhard, author of the new and controversial book ”Hur barnen tog makten” (How the children took the power). Part of it is, says Eberhard, that Swedes are too safe...
Kristina Ringqvist has been teaching for almost 30 years, and she’s gotten used to students being late: ”If a class has 25 students, then perhaps three or four are late for the first lesson,” she says. And Ringqvist’s observations are not unique: When the latest PISA study was presented, it showed that Sweden was lagging in all academic areas; only four nations were worse than Sweden.
The only category in which Swedes came out of top was ”truancy.” When it comes to truancy, Sweden is far above the OECD average, a development that has been proven by statistics from CSN (the Swedish Government authority in charge of financial aid for studies and home equipment loans). The number of high school students who have been absent without cause has increased steadily during the past years, from 3.7 percent in 2008-2009 to 6.4 percent in 2012-2013.

It's about attitude..."
Ulf Fredriksson, associate professor in Language Education at Stockholm University says it’s a question of attitude. "If something’s important to you, you get there on time. We have to make young people understand that education is important.” Eberhard sees a simple explanation to the problem: ”It’s a natural consequence in a culture where you’re not allowed to set boundaries for your children. I don’t understand what parents have to do with the school, since they obviously cannot stand up to their children. We fail our children. They are the victims of this kind of laissez-faire attitude. We have to make people see that not to have demands doesn’t mean you’re being kind.” Following the PISA report, Jan Björklund, Minister for Education, suggested teachers ”lock the door” to their classrooms for latecomers. But Ringqvist doesn’t believe in that.
”The Education Act won’t allow us to lock the door for an entire lesson. And when we tried it, it didn’t work. Students who were late were banging on the doors, disturbing the lesson. When teachers drove them away from the hallway, unpleasant things happened like fights and bullying, because no teacher had any control.” Ringqvist says she wants the students who are late to feel as if they’ve missed something fun. ”I report late arrival, but I don’t scream about it. Instead I try to begin the lessons with something enjoyable.”


We've earlier covered Eberhard's book here: Do Swedish kids have too much power?