The Swedish community school has a very nice place at the Exhibition. It is situated next to the King of Sweden's hunting pavilion, which is very remarkable for its style. It is built entirely of wood; the ceiling is formed by the roof of the house itself, so that one would think one was in a church; the children's seats are picturesque in that each bench is isolated and intended for a single child, and forms a sort of pulpit in miniature.
The little pulpit, if one should so call the seat and table which together form a single object, is very practical. The leg, on which the table rests, can be mounted higher. The table top can be moved forward or backward, or raised to form a reading desk.
The inkwell is covered and only becomes visible when the table top is pulled out to write. Under the tablet is a recess for all sorts of things, and on the front of the table is a system for sliding the slate tablet into a safe place when the student is not using it.
It's all very nice. Each child is free on all sides. It is difficult for him to talk, impossible to play with his classmates, and the teacher can see everything at a glance.
In this way, the child becomes accustomed to independence at an early age; he learns to value his seat, to keep it clean and in good condition, and already thinks he is something. This arrangement was innovated by the rector of a Swedish municipal school, Mr. Sandeberg; the teacher himself sits on a higher pulpit, on the left he has a harmonium for teaching music, and on the right a table for doing experiments with a glass plate, used in teaching elementary physics.
The large board is doubly practised, for it stands above it and has in its frame a box containing some rolled cards, which can be unrolled on the board and which then disappear into their box, by a mechanical process. The teaching aids are very rich and consist of large, explicit drawings, and tables or pictures, models, plastic aids for calculation, for teaching the metre etc.
A geographical map, in particular, is easily visible from the whole room; it represents the country of birth and, next to this map, there are tokens with nailheads bearing the names of the most important towns and places in the country.
The child has to fix the place of the city and place the token on the right point of the line. This makes it easier for the child to get to know his or her native country perfectly and consolidates the child's love of his or her homeland.
Next to the school room is the library. The teacher is at the same time the librarian, who spreads light in circles, where other means of instruction in the wider world are often lacking.
We noticed, with pleasure, a pretty flag on which are the words: "Frid öfver sma foglarna", which means: "Peace to the little birds"; a maxim which humanity teaches to the youth and the fulfilment of which is of service to agriculture.
The teacher still has a parlour on the ground floor and, on the first floor, sufficient accommodation for him and his family. In Sweden, schoolmasters receive a fixed salary of at least 400 thalers and 10 barrels of wheat. This minimum rises to a maximum of 1000 to 1500 thalers (3750 to 5625 francs). Education is compulsory; most children start school at the age of six and are obliged to start at least at the age of eight; they must stay at school for seven years. Parents who object are forced to bear the costs of taking the children out of the parental home. In 1871, Sweden had 700,000 communal pupils, of whom 200 attended higher schools, 224,000 communal schools, 15,000 mixed schools (schools that serve several villages at once), and 200,000 small elementary schools.
Then there were 10 senior teachers, 3,500 teachers and 600 female teachers in municipal schools, and 1,600 schoolmasters and 2,000 female teachers in small schools, in all 8,000 teachers.
Sweden is a country where popular education has reached a very high level, and the Swedish school can really serve as a model for states concerned with educating the children of the people.
©L’Exposition Universelle de Vienne 1873