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Nordic Teacher Cultures

A comparative historical project on Nordic teacher cultures from late nineteenth century to present. Tracking teacher roles from “folkelæreren” (a people’s teacher) to the professional teacher, institutionally from seminaries to academization.

Danish teachers round 1900

About the project

The project “Nordic Teacher Cultures” tracks the historical development of schoolteachers in the Nordic countries institutionally from seminariums/teacher-schools to academization and regarding teacher roles from a “teacher of the people” (“folkelæreren”) to the professional teacher.

This investigation of Nordic teacher cultures has two tracks: a sociological, quantitative track, and a cultural, qualitative track. The first track investigates the socio-cultural backgrounds of teachers, recruitment into different groups of teachers, and the development of these recruitment patterns from late 19th century until present. The second track investigates groups of teachers, their knowledge ideals, values and discursive positioning often in conflicts with other teacher groups. Firstly, a Danish/Norwegian comparative research design is used. Later during this project, the perspective will encompass all the Nordic countries analyzed in an international perspective.


The aims of this project are both scholarly and practical/political. Firstly, there are reasons comparatively to analyze Nordic school history that has often been characterized by both methodological nationalism and tendencies towards “whiggish” history writing. It is the aim partly to rewrite the history of Nordic teacher cultures seen in an international perspective and tentatively with a less whiggish focus on lost battles, conflicting cultures and discontinuities.

From a practical political viewpoint, in times of intensive international exchange of premises, policies, models etc. of education, it is of great interest to see how the Nordic model changes, maybe converging over time. The Nordic countries are all recipients of increasing influence from transnational organizations, and all “look to Finland” based on premises outlined by the OECD. A deeper analysis of these tendencies can be of great interest from a national political perspective, where there is an interest in optimizing the existing school systems, but also keeping positive aspects of a Nordic model alive.

Published Mar. 8, 2018 12:20 PM - Last modified Aug. 16, 2018 12:02 PM


Jesper Eckhardt Larsen



Detailed list of participants