Att fostra demokrater : Om skolan i demokratin och demokratin i skolan
Sammanfattning: A central task for the Swedish school is to foster democratic citizens. The purpose of this thesis is to evaluate some aspects of the fostering of democrats in Swedish schools, focusing on the political knowledge of young people. For more than a decade the Swedish educational policy has considered a democratic school environment to be a fundamental right for the students. Furthermore, the school democracy is assumed to have a positive effect on the students' development of democratic competence. This assumption of a causal relationship between school democracy and political knowledge, inspired by integrative theories of democracy, is tested in this study. Another important goal for the Swedish educational policy is the equivalence of education for all students. This can be interpreted in more or less ambitious terms regarding the equality of the students' education. School segregation, however, poses a threat to any form of equivalent education. The effects of school segregation on the students' political knowledge is therefore also tested in this thesis.Using multi-level analysis on a sample of over 6000 Swedish students between 14 and 15 years of age, this study shows that a deliberative open classroom-climate has a positive effect on the students' political knowledge while the direct student influence, surprisingly, has a negative effect. Both ethnic and socioeconomic segregation have negative effects on the students political knowledge. Even more troubling, though, is the fact that the different dimensions of school democracy are related to the segregational factors. The favourable open classroom-climate is more frequent in schools where the students' parents have higher education. The counter-productive direct student influence is, on the other hand, more frequent in schools with a high number of immigrants and in schools where the students' parents have lower education. It is therefore argued that even though student influence is construed as a fundamental right, the Swedish government needs to appreciate the conflict between the goals of the educational policy: Student influence and the fostering of democrats. This conflict is especially serious since student influence in fact has a negative effect not only on the fostering of democrats but also on the equality of citizenship education.
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