Lågstadielärare talar om sin undervisning i de samhällsorienterande ämnena
The syllabus for the social study subjects (geography, history, civics, and religious education) in Swedish Lower Primary school prescribes work both with a traditional content, (i.e. maps, the Stone age, who decides in our society, why do we celebrate Christmas) and work to get the pupils to embrace values and norms that are desirable in a democratic society. This study explores the goals thirteen Swedish Lower Primary school teachers express concerning their teaching in geography, history, civics, and religious education and how they balance between aspects of substantive knowledge and the fostering aspects of these subjects. The results are discussed in relation to selective traditions in Swedish school. The teachers express a traditional view of the subjects and there are few indications of the domain-specific abilities required in the syllabus. There are considerable differences between how the teachers value the importance of the different subjects and the different substantive contents within the subjects. This indicates that there also are differences in how they carry through their teaching. There are also differences in how the teachers balance between the substantive and fostering aspects of the subjects. Some teachers stress the importance of working with the substantive content of the subjects, while others express the view that these subjects only consist of the fostering aspects and has no substantive knowledge at all. The analysis shows strong influence from the progressivistic tradition on the teachers’ reasoning. They stress the importance of paying attention to the pupils’ prior experiences and to adjust the teaching to the educational needs of their pupils, especially concerning the work with values and norms. All the teachers want to foster the pupils to embrace democratic values and norms for living together in a classroom and in the society as a whole. In addition, the teachers working with pupils of foreign background aim at enhancing their pupils’ pride of themselves and their background, as well as their integration into Swedish society, by promoting equality between the sexes, tolerance between different religions and different ethnic groups. Doing this, they hope to counteract criminality and gangs.