an old school in Högsby

Project: The countryside school and its learning context

The project aimed to understand and develop how the countryside as a geographic place offers possibilities for school work and its learning. The goal was to develop these on the basis of part-taking students’, teachers’ and principals’ experiences.

Image: The old school in Sinnerbo, Högsby municipality

This project was concluded in June 2023.

Project information

Project manager
Mattias Lundin
Other project members
Joakim Strindberg
Linnaeus Knowledge Environment Education in change
1 Aug 2022–30 June 2023
Pedagogy (Department of Education and Teachers' Practice, Faculty of Social Sciences)

More about the project

The project aims to develop and understand how the countryside as a geographical location offers opportunities for schoolwork and learning. The goal is to develop this based on the experiences of participating pupils, teachers and principals.

The background is that Långtidsutredningen (the Long-term investigation, 2019) showed large and increasing differences in results between schools since the 1990s, which means that there is an equivalence problem in Swedish schools. For many years, we have also seen how people have moved towards cities, with housing shortages and communication problems as a result. In rural areas, though, the tendency has been the opposite and rural schools have had to close. However, there are indicators of a renewed interest in the countryside, not least in popular media.

Rural schools are not a well-researched phenomenon, a fact that is made visible by the review articles that have been made. In 2009, Hargreaves presented a review of 25 years of research on small rural schools in England. In this review, she states that there is a lack of a clear definition of rural areas and that the voices of pupils are conspicuous by their absence in the research. Fargas-Malet and Bagley make similar observations in 2021 and also claim a lack of pupils' voices, although there has been a development over the 12 years.

The present project takes a clear starting point in the criticism of the missing pupil perspective. This project must also rest on a clear definition of rural areas.

Another review of research was done by Åberg-Bengtsson in 2009, which focuses on research on Swedish rural schools. In her conclusions, she notes that the research is limited and that some assumptions about these schools are not supported by the research. Such an assumption is that age-mixed teaching would be a disadvantage.

The project is part of the research in the Research on pedagogical professions and practices (PEPP) research group and the Linnaeus Knowledge Environment Education in change.