MobileBE - Examples of good practice (IO-1) - Example SE03
Studies with active citizenship as a profile – a preparation for a job, further studies and life itself!
The general course is the core and pride of the Swedish Folk High School system. It is the basic course at all 154 Folk High Schools, and it can be profiled more or less, depending on ownership and orientation. Today, about 75% of the schools are run by organizations, associations (NGO’s) and popular movements, while the remaining 25% are run by regions and county councils. The Folk High Schools are free to create their own syllabus, according to the wishes of the board and the needs of the groups of participants. This means that both the course contents and the working methods can vary a lot from school to school and from time to time.
Aiming at strengthening and developing our democracy, the goals we are heading for in general are increased knowledge, cultural interest and participation in cultural activities, social awareness and active citizenship, as well as personal development. At our school, it is the labor movement and the trade unions we have as owners that creates the profile, which makes it important with knowledge of for example labor market issues and social issues. Since this kind of course can be an alternative to upper secondary school, it also means a qualification for studies at university level.
The course is planned around thematic work, with for example Equality, Identity, Culture or Human rights in Sweden as the focus for a couple of months or a full term. The course contents are planned week by week and in collaboration with the students – the goal is that their previous knowledge should be shared in the group, and their wishes and needs of new knowledge should be met. Most often the teachers work together, and when discussing for example Equality between the sexes the science teacher gives some biological input and the social science teacher discusses the construction of gender with the group, allowing different angles and contexts. If the current framework is Culture, the reading of a novel can be in focus and artwork from the same period can be shown and discussed, and a visit to the Museum of Art be a suitable and rewarding break from the classroom work. Evaluation during and at the end of each thematic period give the teachers an idea what could be a good next step – what have caught the students’ attention and interest, and what would they like to know more about?
Target group, recruitment, motivation
Everyone who is 18 years or older are welcome to apply, and we have recruitment information meetings combined with individual interviews. The applicants should be able to focus mainly on their studies for the 1-3 years needed to finish with an exam, and be willing to attend a course with alternative methods. One important priority for the school is to have a mix of ages and backgrounds in the same group, to facilitate the sharing of knowledge and make discussions varied and rich. The student’s own motivation to attend and be active at the course is supported by our flexible methods and a constant dialogue between tutor and student when it comes to planning and creating a meaningful course together.
Currently we have about 95 students at upper secondary level and 26 at a preparatory lower secondary level. Most of them are between ages 24-35, and all of them have for some reason or other not managed to get their basic exams from the main school system. They have normally a low self-esteem and are in need of studies and working methods structured in alternative ways.
Folk High Schools have by tradition always had a priority on those in the most need of what we can offer, which means we have a rather unusual approach to who is qualified for our courses. However, reasons for not being taken in could for example be a problem with drugs or too severe mental diagnoses for us to handle.
Validation of learning outcomes
Since this kind of course can be an alternative to upper secondary school, it also means a qualification for studies at university level, with intake through a separate ratio group. However, most of our students are more interested in getting into a profession and/or aim at further vocational studies.
Effects – short term/long term
Young individuals who for various reasons have failed earlier will get a second chance to finish their secondary education. The pedagogics, working methods and tutorial support at our kind of school will help them regain their confidence, study motivation, and get a better understanding of their own abilities and goals. In addition, studying in a warm and open environment, working closely with other students and staff stimulates personal growth and development. They also get a formal exam that will help them either to get a job or allow them to continue with either vocational or academic studies.
Måna Nilsdotter, 2018-02-28