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A pedagogical revolution at grassroots level: The introduction and early spread of the monitorial system in Sweden
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Educational Sciences, Department of Education. (Uppsala Studies of History and Education (SHED))ORCID iD: 0000-0001-6803-4010
2019 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

‘The monitorial system’ and ‘mutual instruction’ are two of the terms used for the new teaching methods that were developed separately by Andrew Bell in India and Joseph Lancaster in England in around 1800. These methods spread rapidly around the world, and in just a couple of decades they were practised worldwide (Caruso & Vera 2005; Tschurenev 2008). Bell’s and Lancaster’s methods had in common the fact that one teacher used the best pupils as helpers – socalled monitors. Thereby it was possible for one teacher to teach hundreds of pupils at the same time (Kaestle 1974). In Sweden, these teaching methods became known in 1810, but it was not until 1817 that the teacher Peter (Per) Reinhold Svensson was sent to England by the Swedish government to learn more about the monitorial system. Thereafter monitorial education spread throughout Sweden under the name of växelundervisning, and in 1822 the Society for the Promotion of Monitorial Education (Sällskapet för växelundervisningens befrämjande) was formed. In 1824, the monitorial system had reached such recognition in Sweden that following a royal resolution it became the recommended method for teaching in Swedish elementary schools (Nordin 1974). In this paper I will examine the introduction and early spread of the monitorial system in Sweden. This has not been done systematically before, despite the fact that several investigations has dealt with the introduction and/or the spread of the monitorial system in Sweden (Nordin 1974; Hodacs 2003; Neidenmark 2011; Larsson 2014). The thing that distinguishes this investigation from previous studies is its focus on the very first spread of the monitorial system in Sweden, prior to the formation of the Society for the Promotion of Monitorial Education. Drawing on documents in the archive from the society describing the introduction of the monitorial system in the first 30 monitorial schools in Sweden the paper can show that the introduction of the monitorial system in Sweden was not just the result of a decision of the Royal Majesty to send Svensson to England. Although Svensson began using the monitorial system in the school where he taught, the monitorial system was also introduced around the same time in two other schools in Norrköping and Gothenburg. These schools were in turn the result of an import of ideas from France and Denmark. The monitorial system then continued to spread throughout the country from these three original schools. The spread seems to have occurred as a result of people visiting or by parishes sending a teacher to one of these schools to learn more about the new teaching methods. As new monitorial schools started they could also function as inspiration for others planning to start schools in surrounding parishes. This shows that the introduction of the monitorial system in Sweden was not the result of any government decision, but rather part of a kind of grassroots movement involving rich philanthropists, the local clergy and teachers.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019.
Keywords [en]
History of Education, dissemination of ideas, the monitorial system
National Category
History
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-378943OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-378943DiVA, id: diva2:1295151
Conference
NERA 2019: Education in a globalized world, Uppsala 6-8 march 2019
Available from: 2019-03-11 Created: 2019-03-11 Last updated: 2019-05-09Bibliographically approved

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Larsson, Esbjörn

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