Lund University Dissertation
Faculty of Social Sciences

Postal address of Department 
Box 199, SE-221 00 LUND, Sweden 
Public defence of dissertation 
12 april 2002, Carolinasalen, Kungshuset, Lundagård 

Esbjörn Hellström 

Title and subtitle 
Reformpedagogik i möte med den statskommunala skolan i Barnets århundrade 

The starting point for this dissertation can be characterised with the question: why don't dreams come true? In 1900, Ellen Key proclaimed the coming hundred years as the children's century. One of the great questions of the time concerned the relation between the individual and the community. Through the years, school curricula became influenced by visions of "reform-pedagogics" (Reformpedagogik). The main aim of this study was to investigate the encounter between the visions of "reform-pedagogics" and the Swedish state school system from a perspective of "reform-pedagogics". A second aim was to discuss the importance of social-philosophical views. The investigation was accomplished using the philosophical perspectives of Husserl's phenomenology, together with the Gadamer hermeneutic tradition. The discussion was made by reference to the social-philosophy of Habermas and his Theory of Communicative Action. In the dissertation, three educational concepts were focused on: the "school of the future" by Ellen Key, "activity-pedagogics" by Elsa Köhler and the "culture-humanistic school" (Waldorf methods) by Rudolf Steiner. In the encounter between visions of "reform-pedagogics" and the Swedish state school system, the realisation of ideas of "reform-pedagogics" seemed to be hindered. Lifeworld-conflicts were developed by the increasing systemintegration of the field of schools. The antagonistic tension between transforming educational goals into practice ("exchanging") and the "acquiring of culture" was found to be a dominating characteristic of the encounter. Power, money and control seemed to have a depressing influence on the field of schooling and seemed to lead towards unconscious sclerotic system-buildings. The rigidity of the system prevented "communicative actions" and led to a lifeworld colonisation. In the future teachers, parents and pupils in schools or "centres for culture " will need space to carry out creative, individual, social and epistemological action based on individual conceptions and reflection-in-action. It was suggested that in the future, democracy will require a new constitutional law to protect the freedom of education. 

Ellen Key, Elsa Köhler, Rudolf Steiner, Husserl, Gadamer, Habermas, activity-pedagogics, (aktivitetspedagogik), Communicative Action, culture democracy, education, epistemology, hermeneutic, pedagogic, phenomenology, reflection-in-action, reform-pedagogics, (reformpedagogik), school, progressive pedagogy, Waldorf methods, 

Faculty opponent 
Tomas Kroksmark 
This dissertation is a monograph 
Number of pages 
Distribution by 
Esbjörn Hellström, Virvelvindsvägen 4D, SE-222 27 LUND 

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