London Metropolitan University Research Institutes

How much is a smile? 15 year-old Swedish pupils’ view of solidarity and responsibility

Author(s) Bodil Liljefors Persson, Rune Jönsson  
Publisher CiCe Publications  
Year 2005  
Editor A. Ross, Teaching Citizenship  
Language English  
Age group -  
Part of the national Evaluation of the Compulsory School conducted by the Swedish Ministry of Education in 2003 deals with Religious Education, Ethics and Issues concerning life and its interpretation, called What is right? Pupils also got a questionnaire concerning attitudes to school issues in the broad perspective, as well as more specific questions about topics such as their views on immigrants and their religions. In total about 1,800 pupils in grade 9 answered the questions about Religious Education. In constructing these questions for What is right? the starting point was the National Curriculum for Compulsory Schools (from 1994) and the Syllabus in Religious Education (from 2000) (Utbildningsdepartementet 1994, Skolverket 2000). In both these documents are central texts that emphasise that the basic principle for all public schools is democracy. Fundamental values such as the intrinsic value of each person, freedom and integrity of the individual, gender equality, solidarity and support for the weak are the basic guidelines for all work at school. Some of the exercises were also conducted in a National Evaluations in 1992 and 1995, which gives us the opportunity to compare these results with 2003. (Skolverket 1992, Skolverket 1995). We also made the assumption that multiculturalism was more established in Sweden in 2003 than it had been in the 1990s. The Syllabus for Religious Education from 2000 deals with issues concerning life and its interpretation, ethics, belief and tradition. The questionnaires are based on these issues with exercises that focus on life vital questions, knowledge-based questions concerning world religions and traditions and ethical dilemmas. This paper presents some of the results from this study. First we will focus on ethical dilemmas in which questions of solidarity and responsibility are at stake but some of the results of the other exercises will also be commented on. Secondly, this paper highlights the pupils’ own demands for Religious Education.

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