Hello there Åsa Melin, doctoral student in history at CRS Graduate School…2020-10-29
... you are spending a lot of time in the municipal archives in Storfors and Arvika at the moment. What are you up to?
"I’m working on my thesis and reading documents from the old school boards. I’m looking at how school reforms between the years 1950 and 1968 were handled and implemented at the local level."
Why is this particular period interesting?
"During the period 1950 to 1968, one of the largest school reforms to date was implemented in Sweden. We moved from a parallel school system to a uniform system. The start of the process was ‘Enhetsskoleförsöket’, which was approved in 1950 and followed by the decision in 1962 to introduce primary and secondary school, years 1 to 9. Year 9 continued to vary locally for a few years, as it was differentiated through three different alternatives until 1968 when it was decided that the ninth school year would also be uniform."
Why did you choose to focus on educational history in your thesis project?
"First of all, I’m interested in history, in the shift between continuity and change. The school reform in particular captures not only a change in the school system but the construction of Sweden as a modern country. It is a period characterised by great change in Sweden, of democratisation and modernisation. The change of the school system embodies the whole idea that everyone should be allowed to participate, equal schooling, and education as an important part of the democratic and modern Sweden. I find that interesting."
What do you hope to contribute with through your thesis?
"We know quite a lot about the school reforms that have taken place over the years, but the descriptions are in most cases based on a national perspective. The local perspective is much more rare. A lot of information can be found in the municipal archives, and in Arvika and Storfors, the focus of my study, everything has been well documented. I have been there on site and read old documents, but also taken photos to be able to analyse the material from home. I hope to contribute with a historical perspective on the process of how a large government initiative was handled and implemented at the local level."
You are now halfway through your doctoral studies. Who do you think might find an interest in your thesis once it is finished?
"I think that it could be relevant to, for example, decision-makers and school people at different levels. I also think that it will be of interest to anyone who wants to know more about how the conditions of different municipalities affect the implementation of national decisions at local level. This could, for example, include the interests of different actors and local geographical conditions. I also believe that my research might be of interest to researchers who study the relationship between the city and the countryside, democracy issues and how policies are implemented locally."
Åsa Melin is from Kristinehamn and has previously worked as a teacher in social sciences and theatre. She has also taught at the university, including courses in grading and assessment and placement courses for students enrolled in the teacher training programmes, all of which belong to the core education subjects of the university’s teacher training. She is a doctoral student in history with a specialisation in educational history and part of the graduate school of the Centre for Research on Sustainable Societal Transformation (CRS).