The transnational dissemination of the infant school to the periphery of Europe: the role of primary schools, religion, travels, and handbooks in the case of nineteenth-century Sweden

Johannes Westberg*

*Corresponding author for this work

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The infant school was a nineteenth-century innovation with British roots that quickly achieved an international reputation. This article contributes to the study of the transnational dissemination of the infant schools by examining the case of Swedish infant schools. Using theoretical concepts from the transnational history of education, this article focuses on how the model of infant schools was transferred to Sweden, and how this model was translated and transformed in this process and by local Swedish contexts. Combining printed handbooks and unprinted archival materials from infant school societies, this article emphasises the role of travels, handbooks, and the infant school society of Stockholm in this transfer process, and its inherent contradictions. This study indicates the vital role that religion played in transforming the content of the teaching taught at infant schools, and the impact of primary schools on the educational practices. As elsewhere, Swedish infant schools were sometimes transformed into a kind of preparatory primary school.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)99-119
Number of pages21
JournalPaedagogica Historica
Issue number1
Early online date20-Aug-2020
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Infant school
  • transfer
  • internationalisation
  • history of education
  • preschool
  • Sweden

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