Controversial Ideas 2022, 2(1), 9; doi: 10.35995/jci02010009
The Fatal Conceit: Swedish Education after Nazism
1 Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN) in Stockholm & London School of Economics;
2 Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN) in Stockholm
* CCorresponding author:
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 16 Jun 2021 / Revised: 13 Jan 2022 / Accepted: 31 Jan 2022 / Published: 29 Apr 2022
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
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).
Heller-Sahlgren, G.; Wennström, J. The Fatal Conceit: Swedish Education after Nazism. Controversial_Ideas 2022, 2, 9.
Heller-Sahlgren G, Wennström J. The Fatal Conceit: Swedish Education after Nazism. Journal of Controversial Ideas. 2022; 2(1):9.
Heller-Sahlgren, Gabriel; Wennström, Johan. 2022. "The Fatal Conceit: Swedish Education after Nazism." Controversial_Ideas 2, no. 1: 9.