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Minister proposes elite high school classes

TT/The Local · 17 Aug 2010, 13:55

Published: 17 Aug 2010 13:55 GMT+02:00

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According to the legislative proposal, which will now be referred for consideration, the government opens the way for high schools (högstadiet) to select pupils for the elite classes with the help of testing.

The classes are designed to allow talented pupils a freer hand to study as many upper secondary school (gymnasium) courses as they can, in advance.

If the proposal is passed into law the classes will be established from the autumn term 2012.

Björklund underlined at a press conference announcing the plan that entrance examinations are of core importance - well-educated middle class parents will not be allowed to use their contacts and persuasion to secure a place for their child, it should be the pupil's talent alone which decides, he said.

The minister conceded on Tuesday that in fact the elite classes are nothing new and already exist within subjects such as music and sport.

"I don't understand why it should be taboo to also have specialised education for talented pupils in academic subjects in high school."

Björklund blamed the previous Social Democratic government for perpetuating the Jante Law within Swedish education, referring to the generally applied sociological term to negatively describe an attitude towards individuality and success.

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"We have had a Social Democratic Jante Law casting a shadow for decades over initiatives such as this within Swedish schools policy. It is a Jante Law that we want to leave behind us," Jan Björklund said.

The Swedish compulsory schooling system consists of nine academic years from the age of around 7-years-old. The nine years are divided into three blocks of entitled low, middle and high "stadium" and are followed by a three year upper secondary education which is not compulsory and typically offers more specialisation.

TT/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

14:53 August 17, 2010 by BIL101
Applause ! Education needs grade that is lacking in Swedish system. That is so important for the future generations to survive in the globalized environment. Elite system can inspire the rest and push the society forward. of course there will be more fellows getting depressed...
15:10 August 17, 2010 by mcbrazile
I have to admit, usually I think Swedens reforms are way too lefty, but this is needed. I am in Ireland (don't ask why I comment on Swedish stuff on a Swedish website, I don't know either) and I'm going into fifth year, and I think I am relatively smart, and to be honest I think that all schools need this. Sitting around waiting for everyone else to catch up is frustrating. The arguement is there that students need to learn with their own age group, which is true, but this does not mean they need to learn at the same level. In Ireland the curriculum is not in depth enough, trying to get a large scope of subjects, but if this policy was implented not just for high flyers it would be brilliant. It should be done not just in Sweden but throughout the EU.
15:16 August 17, 2010 by eppie

just go and study applied physics at uni, or do two studies at the same time, before that; enjoy your childhood. The smart ones have enough interests outside school to keep them challenged.

What is the problem here anyway? Does sweden think they have a not so highly educated population? Most countries would be jealous.

Nowadays every parent thinks their chilc is a prodigy......will get busy in the admissions office of such a new elite school. :)
17:00 August 17, 2010 by soultraveler3
It's about time they woke up and realized that viewing sucess and individuality as negative is beyond stupid.

Embracing the individual and aiming for sucess are the ways in which new ideas and concepts are formed, the way people evolve and the way a country progresses.

Swedes have been brainwashed for far too long into believing that it's a bad thing to want something more out of life than what if spoon-fed to them by their government.
17:35 August 17, 2010 by Youdee
I think the word "elite" is a false friend here and can thus raise a few hackles.

For example, my nephews in upstate NY went to a regular high school but attended "advanced" math courses at a local college. When I was a teacher, our school received funding to launch a "gifted and talented" program, which meant that kids who had varying disabilities could participate, if, for example, they were talented muscians, artists, athletes, etc. The word "elite" never crossed our lips.
18:28 August 17, 2010 by dwb5555
This is a bad idea.

If you have contact we swedish student you will find that they lack the basic knowledge because of to much independent studies and not enough core classes.

They should focus on basic education instead as even swedish studies have shown student today know less than from 5 years ago.
18:38 August 17, 2010 by amuharun
I think now we going to follow survival of the fittest theory.Sweden is no more unique society and not legend of tolerance anymore.Now its time for competition.Every part we will observe capitalism. Let see what people want in coming election, welfare or capitalist system. We must prepare for all kind of new changes, nothing to wonder! people are tired on social wellfare model. Time for Viking age(capitalist). Only fit people can live good life and can reach at top. Rest frustrating and slowly disappear with sufference.

This is really strange that we using outsider doctors and engineers as taxi driver, and finding quality with creating elite class student.Why not we use resource that we have already. Proper use of resource will make a good balance in system.
19:46 August 17, 2010 by Andy from NYC
Once again THE LOCAL feeds the liberal leftist media machine...with poor jaded journalism.

It's not about ELITE...

It's not about SELECT PUPILS...

It is about creating an environment for the gifted and talented students to be challenged to their fullest--so they don't leave the country due to the "lagom" nature of the school system within which the fast kids are told to wait until the slow kids catch up, where parents and educators say "it's good enough" rather than "strive to excel" and "dare to be different".......

What's wrong with challenging smart kids?????

Thank you Jan Björklund--you have my vote.

Shame on you The Local--you could have done a better job. I have 2 children in the system. It is good but it could be so much better with just a little tweaking such as the proposal put forth. It is not about elite education--it is about better education. Report this stuff honestly next time!

And shame on you S party--all you do is keep coming up with lamebrain ideas like Butlers in the Subways instead of ideas for improving the schools.
21:12 August 17, 2010 by 2394040
There's no point in changing the rules. If a student is all that smart, then just move him or her to whatever grade level they should be in.
21:14 August 17, 2010 by jack sprat
So is this the last nail in the coffin of Sweden's commie/socialist equality for all society?

Yesterday we saw a plan for seperate lower paid jobs for immigrants.

Today it's a seperate education plan for the more gifted ones......

Not criticising,..only asking.
21:37 August 17, 2010 by beam_me_up
Youdee----You are absolutely right. Elite is the wrong word. It conjures up feelings of a class system. ADVANCED is a much better and fitting word.

"Equal opportunity" should be the standard. Anybody who wants to work/study hard should be encourage to do so and advance in what they love. Forced equality is the wrong way. We are all different with varying degrees of knowlege and motivation.
21:51 August 17, 2010 by conboy
Great to see social darwinists like björklund and marx reigniting public interest again ha ha
22:06 August 17, 2010 by Cornelius Hamelberg
23:02 August 17, 2010 by Dr. Dillner
Jante Law:

"Generally used colloquially as a sociological term to negatively describe an attitude towards individuality and success claimed to be common in Scandinavia, it refers to a supposed snide, jealous and narrow small-town mentality which refuses to acknowledge individual effort and places all emphasis on the collective, while punishing those who stand out as achievers." (Wikipedia)

This is sad, real sad, this "Jante Law." Suppression of achievement is just so sickening to me that I pray that it will be abolished soon in Sweden.
23:03 August 17, 2010 by dizzymoe33
I think this is a fantastic idea why wouldn't Sweden want their gifted and brighest to challenge themselves and achieve so much more? By allowing these students to excel who knows what doors will open for them and Sweden.
23:11 August 17, 2010 by LeoKinmann
I'm gonna vote for him!!!
23:15 August 17, 2010 by mcbrazile

I just did a wiki search on the jante law thing, these are apparently the ten laws:

The ten rules state:

Don't think that you are special.

Don't think that you are of the same standing as others.

Don't think that you are smarter than others.

Don't fancy yourself as being better than others.

Don't think that you know more than others.

Don't think that you are more important than others.

Don't think that you are good at anything.

Don't laugh at others.

Don't think that any one of us cares about you.

Don't think that you can teach others anything.

It like something from the breaking down bit of a bad brainwashing movie.
23:58 August 17, 2010 by double concerto
What's going on? An outbreak of common sense and self esteem in Sweden!!! But it must be doubted that it can last for very long given the recent track record.
00:48 August 18, 2010 by Taxalien
Sadly there is nothing unique about what they are proposing. Sweden could go much further and abolish the year oriented schooling system rather than carry on with this nonsense.

This is not a liberal idea, it is just more socialism.

A truly liberal educational system gives everyone equal opportunities to become the elite regardless what the subject matter is. It gives everyone an equal share of the educational resources. It treats each individual child as unique without judging or condemning anyone to fall behind. It does not bundle everyone into the same class because they are black or white or because they were born the same year. It lets every child experience the wealth of knowledge we as humans have gathered for millenia and it lets each child traverse the educational pyramid at their own speed and leisure, coached not only by teachers but most importantly by parents who care about the child rather than just looking forward to keep their offspring in containers called dagis, preschool or "school"...just so that they can go off and work to pay bills.

There is nothing liberal about folkpartiet. It is a socialistic planning economy friendly party and this is another step in that direction. Just like Sabuni they will not stop until the whole country is in ruins. And don't get me started on the other lot, they are even worse.
01:04 August 18, 2010 by calebian22
Jante Law is skitsnack. First, get rid of it in the schools and then the rest of society. Anything odd or strange regarding Swedes can be linked to this ridiculous cultural more. Hoo- friggin-ray!
02:32 August 18, 2010 by JoeSwede
everyone deserves to develop to their potential.
09:43 August 18, 2010 by Puffin
Jante law is rubbish these days - in the 1970s perhaps but not now

It would be in favour if it would be the case that each kommun gets at least one elite class - but this was not the way it wooked out with the 'elite' gymnasiet classes - We were promised that the elite gymnasiets would give the gifted opportunities - but only 8 or 10 kommuns out of 290 were given the go ahead in the whole of Sweden - all in wealthy areas - most rural Counties didn't even get 1 in the entire county - let alone one in each kommun.
11:55 August 18, 2010 by Audrian
This is a sign of growing inequality. In more unequal societies such as UK elite schools such as Oxford and Cambridge provide high quality education for a few. Tution fee used to cost US$30,000 per year. The same is true where income gap has not stopped being wider. Speical universities require special scondary schools and thse countries have them and they are expensive. The type of social ills that comes with inequality in such countries is not what Swedish people would like to see. This piece-meal reform by a aright wing government is a slippery slope to rise inequality.

Raising the standard of the majority of schools is not an expensive undertaking. Some limited investment and organizational undertakinf can do the job. The needs of gifted students can be catered with special sessions could be organized within an existing upgraded school structure.
12:20 August 18, 2010 by here for the summer
Sweden as all countries needs to educate and challenge their most capable students to build their economy and create jobs. This doesn't happen easily in a class with a normal distribution of intellectual capabilities. Raising the standard for all kids to the level the most capable kids need is not possible and is a different question.

It was never really equal in Sweden and it will only get less equal in the future as mass immigration of people with different cultural norms transforms the society. Just look at a simple issue of two household incomes vs one. If women work then the family has two incomes and a higher income and living standard. Or children, if the parents stay involved their kids will benefit some cultures and people don't value this as highly. The number of children per family is an issue. Children require help and support which is not all supplied by the state the more children you have the less of the parents time they get.
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