Headlines 2017

Seminar: Educational perspective and pedagogy


From left to right: magnus Henrekson, Inger Enkvist and Martin Ingvar.

In their new book, Kunskapssynen och pedagogiken (Educational Perspective and Pedagogy; Diagolos Förlag), Inger Enkvist, Magnus Henrekson, Martin Ingvar and Ingrid Wållgren explain that today's view of knowledge lacks validation in both research and demonstrated experience. At a seminar in Stockholm, three of the authors explained that teacher training and education must focus on understanding the brain mechanisms that allow us to learn new things and remember them.

From the right: Martin Ingvar, Karolinska Institute; Inger Enkvist, Lund University; Magnus Henrekson, IFN; and Sanna Rayman, moderator. Photo: Cecilia Larsson Lantz.

Magnus Henrekson, Professor of Economics and Manager of IFN, opened the seminar by explaining the hypotheses that the authors based their work on:

1. The Swedish school system’s declining results are directly related to the view of knowledge that permeates the system.

2. School work is largely based on inefficient educational methods that lack support in science and demonstrated experience.

"This means", said Henrekson, "that the Swedish educational regulation (Skollagen) which stipulates that "education will rest on scientific grounds and proven experience" is not being followed". 


2017-09-19 Enkvist.jpgInger Enkvist. Photo: Cecilia Larsson Lantz.

Inger Enkvist, professor of Spanish at Lund University, explained that the current curriculum for compulsory schools is vague when the goals of the school are being developed. What students should know within each subject is not established, and instead the focus is on students "developing”, ”being allowed to ask questions" and "gaining perspective”.

"Even in natural science subjects, we talk about impact on society. Students are required to know about the subject's history. And then they are expected to discuss, discuss, discuss. There is a strong element of social science in all subjects, and of Swedish in the sense that the student is expected to express his or her views fluently. And all of this is required before they are given the opportunity to develop a base level of knowledge in these disciplines", Enkvist said. 


2017-09-19 Rayman och Ingvar.jpgMartin Ingvar answers questions from the seminar moderator, Sanna Rayman, Dagens Samhälle. Photo: Cecilia Larsson Lantz.


Martin Ingvar, a brain researcher at the Karolinska Institute, said that education is the most important cornerstone of a society. He explained that one of today's problems is that we do not differentiate between skill and knowledge. We learn skills such as reading early on and can subsequently gain knowledge through them.

"The brain's resources are finite, and we should be able to set skills aside to allow us to learn. If you cannot read fluently, reading any literature will be an insurmountable task, and you will not be able to understand the text.

"There are a number of basic cognitive principles that are systematically overruled in the way we are currently educating", Martin Ingvar explained.

Ingvar went on to say that there are some simple measures that can be taken, to immediately bring about change in the way we teach. All schools that have managed to reverse the negative development have in common that they have created a safe environment in the classroom, so that the brain can stop prioritizing its main concern, survival.

"When this is not the case our internal alarm system is running at all times, and the brain prioritizes survival over knowledge."


2017-09-19 Henrekson.jpgMagnus Henrekson, IFN. Photo: Cecilia Larsson Lantz.

At the seminar, editor and co-author of the book, Magnus Henrekson, explained that competition in the school market and choice of school does not work in today's educational system. He pointed out that instead of evaluating results, today schools care more about controlling the learning process, which is also the task of the school inspectorate (Skolinspektionen). At the same time, pluralism in ownership and control require that the state measure knowledge and leave the process be.

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