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The brave new world of Swedish education

Magnus Henrekson's and Johan Wennström's book Dumbing Down: The Crisis of Quality and Equity in a Once-Great Shool System – and How to Reverse the Trend, is reviewed in The Critic.

"“Don’t teach kids what to think, teach them how to think.” There is some truth to this. Any decent teacher knows that if a student arrives at an answer by themselves, instead of simply being given it, there is a better chance they’ll remember it. Students have the right to develop their own opinions, and should be offered tools to aid critical thinking.

But is this warm, cuddly mantra as profound as it appears? In their new book Dumbing Down, economist Magnus Henrekson and political scientist Johan Wennström assess the decline of Swedish education in the context of its starry-eyed departure from classical knowledge to the realms of “post-truth” schooling.

Many of the problems Henrekson and Wennström diagnose will be familiar to anyone acquainted with the British education system. Grade inflation has masked declining standards, which, in Sweden, manifested themselves with a Wil E. Coyote-esque fall down the PISA rankings. Teachers are depressed by excess work and micromanagement."

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