The classical view of knowledge holds that objective knowledge specific to various fields exists, is accessible through systematic study directed by competent teachers, and serves as a precondition for the development of important skills. The postmodern social constructivist view holds that knowledge is subjective and ultimately nontransferable from teacher to student. The emphasis is on self-directed learning of content students deem relevant and training in critical thinking. The Swedish case shows that the classical view gives rise to favorable outcomes, while its alternative leads to educational failure.

Johan Wennström is research fellow at the Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN) in Stockholm.
EducationPublic Schools
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