The “free” child – organized after school activities as the upbringning of a community

by Ann S. Pihlgren & Malin Rohlin
Stockholm University Stockholm University

Afterschool activities were introduced in Sweden to control begging and criminality among lower class children. Arbetsstugor (‘work cottages’) were the first of a series of institutions, with the objective to contribute to children’s moral education and readiness to work. The modern leisure- time center, fritids, is attended by most children age 6-9 years old, and is a part of the Swedish school system. This paper investigates the values and interests forming children’s time outside the compulsory school day when subject to attempted control. The written historical sources are combined with analyses of pedagogical intentions in the curricula of the era and of the prevailing view of children. The result shows that the way the pedagogical identity of the institutions was conceptualized was highly dependent on the governmental idea of what social problem it was intended to solve. This differs over time and hence – so does the pedagogical undertaking, leaving today’s fritids in a turmoil of contradictory influences. As these institutions were less subject to societal directives compared to the school curriculum, teachers had a heavy influence on the practical outcome of the fritids’ activities and these were also more susceptible to the current societal idea of what constitutes childhood.
Read the whole article at: The International Handbook of Cultures of Education Policy (Volume    One): Comparative International Issues in Policy-Outcome Relationships –    Achievement with Family and Community Involvement at: