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Lundsbergs Boarding School Revisited Introduction During the 19th century many reforms took place that shaped modern Sweden. Among these are the school laws of 1842, which made it mandatory for swedish children to attend elementary school for four years, from the age of seven until the age of eleven. 1 The education took up until the early 1990’s mostly place in publicly funded schools. There are however a few exceptions to this and perhaps the most known is Lundsbergs Boarding School, a privately funded school that up until a few years ago also made use of tuition-fees. In many ways Lundsbergs Boarding school can be viewed as a school with an expectional position within swedish civic society. Throughout the years the school has been viewed as a school for the swedish societal elite and among their alumni there are several leading government officials and industrial leaders as well as members of the swedish royal family. 2 In this essay I will examine how the school represented itself in a short filmclip from 1912 named Ett besök på Lundsbergs skola. The aim of this study is to understand how ideal school-life was presented and thus making an analysis of how everyday life at the school-site would be precevied by the viewer. My main questions are: • Which material factors are presented in the film? • In what way are spacial conditions presented in the film? • How does spacial and material factors together form a representation of the school for the viewer? By answering these questions, I hope to shed a new light on the pasts everyday life at one of swedens most wellknown institutions for lower education. Materiality, Visual studies and photographic encounters as a historical source So why is then studying of material and spatial aspects important? In Martin Lawn and Ian Grosvenors text The materiality of schooling the authors points out that what at a first glimpse could seem as not particulary important is surrounded by layers of discourse.A student desk is for most historians just a student desk but educational historians have lately moved away from this view. School materials are not only the result of a discourse of what we need an a classroom but in many ways these materials also produce new approaches to teaching according to Lawn & Grosvenor. 3 Here it becomes obvious that objects shown in the filmclip could be bearer of discourses and community. Spatial aspects have also been on the rise within the field of educational history during the last years. In Catherine Burkes text Containing the school child from 2005 the author points out that schoolsites are not merely containers for education but that they also are complex sites where relationships, conflicts and community is created. 4 Therefore the study of the spacial aspects of school life is important as a way to fully understand educational centers role in society as well as for the individual. So how are when going treat a filmclip as a source for spacial and material interaction? In his text Contextualising and represting school: To contextualise a contextualisation, or the importance of the historic gaze from 2014 historian Robert Thorp discusses how to use a picture as a historical source. In many ways films share many of these components and therefore I think that Thorps arguments could be used in this essay as well. 1 Florin, Christina, Från folkskola till grundskola 1842-1962, www.lararnashistoria.se, 2010, p.3 2 Filmarkivet, Ett besök på Lundsbergs skola (1912), 2015, http://www.filmarkivet.se/movies/besok-pa-lundsbergs- skola/ (retrived on the 5/8-2016) 3 Lawn, Martin & Grosvenor, Ian, ”The materiality of schooling: introduction” in The materiality of schooling: design, technology, objects, routines by Martin Lawn & Ian Grosvenor (eds), Oxford, 2005, p.8-10 4 Burke, Catherine, ”Containing the school child: architectures and pedagogies” in Paedogica Historica vol 41:4-41:5, 2005, p.489-492 According to Thorp a picture could be used as an empirical ground within historical studies if we treat it the same way as we would treat a document. Here it is clear that we most know when a picture was taken and by whom, in order to analyse it from the context it came from. If this is possible a photograph could provide a different historical insight than a written text. 5 In the case of the filmclip it becomes rather clear that it was created during the 12-13 th of October 1912 by the production company Pathé as a form of reportage of everyday school life.6 It is not clear what the purpose with the filming exactly was but from the information from the swedish film institute it becomes clear that one of the main goals with the filming was to show how school life was conducted on Lundsbergs Boarding School. Since the aim of this study is to understand how spacial and material factors can be used in presenting the school spirit and identity, I think that the information provided by the Swedish Filminstitute is sufficent. Using a photograph (or in this case a film clip) as a source of historical information is however far from easy. One such example is presented by Ulrik Boström in her text Seeing is knowing, or the creation of the new real in which she present a more problematic view of pictures as historical documents. In her text Boström presents a perspective that in short could be described that while a picture can be viewed as a document of a past, it is also created within a cultural discourse. 7 In other words; a picture is never objective but is created within a cultural context and just like texts they can be used in several different ways based on the intentions of their creators. So where does this leave us with the case of the movie from Lundsberg? In my view I believe that movie was created with the intention of portaying the school from its very best sides. Even though this could be problematic from a view where we wanted to know the full experience of being a student or teacher at Lundsberg in October 1912, it becomes less of a problem in the case of my study. My aim is to understand how the school is represented and in which way material and spacial factors helped shape the picture of the school and how it was presented. Therefore, the question of whetever or not the filmclip are an adequate of the past becomes less important. From that perspective I have avoided some of the most obvious problems with the film as a historical source. Onward to the analysis So how are then the school spirit and sense of belonging portrayed in the filmclip? The filmclip starts with a group of young boys leaving the dormbuildings and moving towards school. The most clear material aspect of this part of the clip is the fact that all of the boys wear school uniforms. This uniform is a lighter coloured shirt, a necktie and standard trousers for the younger and for the older a full on suit.8 Since the movies is in black and white it is where hard to see the exact colors. What is rather interesting with this is the fact that schooluniform have not been a regular part of swedish everyday school life. According to the swedish national encyclopedia, schooluniforms have mostly been sporadically used in sweden and mostly it have then taken its form of different hats and so on, showing which school/programme you were a student at. 9 In order understand why 5 Thorp, Robert, ”contextualising and representing school: to contextualise a contextualisation, or the importance of the historical gaze” in Engaging with educational by space by Catherine Burke, Ian Grosvenor and Björn Norlin (eds), Umeå Studies in History and Education 8, Umeå, 2014, p.79-80 6 Svensk filmdatabas, Ett besök på Lundsberg, 2015, http://www.sfi.se/sv/svensk-filmdatabas/Item/? itemid=14666&type=MOVIE&iv=Basic (retrived on the 5/8-2016) 7 Boström, Ulrika, ”Seeing is knowing, or the creation of a new real” in Engaging with educational by space by Catherine Burke, Ian Grosvenor and Björn Norlin (eds), Umeå Studies in History and Education 8, Umeå, 2014 p.69-71 8 Ett besök på Lundsbergs skola (online video), 1912, http://www.filmarkivet.se/movies/besok-pa-lundsbergs-skola/ (retrieved on the 5/8-2016), 0:33-01:00 9 Swedish National Encyclopedia, search term: skoluniform, http://www.ne.se/uppslagsverk/encyklopedi/l %C3%A5ng/skoluniform (retrived on the 6/8-2016) Lundsberg boarding school turned towards schooluniforms we need to turn our attention to Annegret Staiger article Schoolgrounds as battlgrounds from 2005. In the article Staiger puts forward the notion that wearing schoolcolours can be viewed as an expression of identity and schoolspirit. In her example schoolcolours are used as both a way for the school to manifest its own power and difference from other schools, as well as it serves a purpose for students in order to help them manifest their own identity as members of that particular societal institution.10 With Swedens long history of not using schooluniforms however, I think that this material aspect of the filmclip is more interesting than just a common analysis of schooluniforms. In this case we could put forward the claim that wearing the uniform of the Lundsbergs school puts out the identity of just being a regular pupil at a regular school and instead turning towards older, more prestigous forms of expressions. When one reads about the history of Lundsberg it becomes rather clear that school itself puts forward an idea and selfimage of being something exclusive, rare and a holdfast for old traditions.11 In this case the notion becomes that the use of uniform not only serves the purpose of creating a sense of belonging to Lundsberg, but also as a way to stand out from the typical swedish system and therefore as a marker of both class and sense of beloning to something different. The schooluniforms is one the very few aspects of materiality that becomes striking in the film. However there are several different spatial aspects and to do a full analysis of these aspects would not be possible within this essay. Instead I will here focus on three different aspects. First and foremost I will discuss the informal learning places that constituates the surroundings and secondly on the sites of physical excerise. During the entire length of the movie the viewer are presented with the surroundings of Lundsberg. It seems here like the countrysides offer a great variety where the children can play on the fields and interacting with typical swedish cattle.12 During the end of the film the pupils are also seen traveling by boat to Långban by Långbanshyttan and the birtplace of swedish inventors Nils and John Ericson.13 Why is these spaces then important for this analysis? In Åsa Wedins text All kids are monkeys at heart the author presents a historical context that could perhaps be of some insight. According to Wedin there was a turn during the late 19 th century where society started to accept the idea of “natural childs”. This idea has its roots within the thinking of Charles Darwin and Jean-Jaques Rousseau who believed that children where yet to be civilised into adulthood. Hence nature was for a long viewed as a childs natural biotop. As a result of this ideas many people turned according to Wedin towards a view where children needed to be close to the outdoors and during the early 20th century many middle class families tried to escape the towns during the summer in order for their children to get fresh air and play in the grass.14 I think that its not a coincident that the surroundings of Lundsberg takes up such a big place within the filmclip. What is perhaps most crucial to understand here is two facts. First and foremost, there seems to have been an ideal that children should not be contained in a crowded classroom during their schoolyears, but also learn from interacting with the outside world. Secondly, and perhaps 10 Staiger, Annegret, ”School walls as battlegrounds: Technologies of Power, Space and identities” in Paedagocia Historica, Vol 41, Nos. 4&5, August, 2005, p.557-559 11 See here for example af Kleen, Björn, ”Följ med bakom kulisserna på Lundsberg” in Café, 2008, http://www.cafe.se/helglasning-den-nya-eliten/ (retrived on the 6/8-2016) 12 Svensk filmdatabas, 00:01:39-00:01:46 13 Svensk filmdatabas, 00:08:00-00-11-59 14 Wendin, Åsa, ”all children are monkeys at heart: Nature as the childs natural habitat in a southern sweden outdoors preschool” in Engaging with educational by space by Catherine Burke, Ian Grosvenor and Björn Norlin (eds), Umeå Studies in History and Education 8, Umeå, 2014 p.167-169 even more speculative, I also think that the reason to why Lundsberg show us this is that it need to show that it kept up with the times. The school of Lundsberg where founded in 1896 and was at the time of the filming a rather young school. Perhaps we here have reason to believe that school needed to show itself as a modern school rather than a tradition-bound school due the fact that it was rather new. This could explain why the outdoors and informal teaching places plays such a large role within the filmclip. Let us move on to more clearly traditional suited areas of learning. During the filmclip we see the pupils having a class in physical exercise. On the schedule it seems like classical athletics such as high- and long jump but also fencing and swimming. During most of the clip the students where similar outfits, with a white t-shirt and light coloured shorts. The teachers are dressed in full on suites. It seems like it is a friendly spirit portrayed between the pupils as well as the teachers and that the physical excercises takes place in very adequate enviroments. Here we can also see that the interaction between the teacher and the pupils are more clear than in the previous non-education areas. We can also see the students parttaking in a school organized rowing championship.15 Here we can see a clear difference between Lundsberg and the rest of the swedish society. In an article from 2003 the swedish physical exercise researcher Leif Yttergren presents the growing sports movement within the swedish society during the 19 th century. In his discusses to some extent the material conditions of excercising and among other things states that exercises such as rowing was not very common among the lower classes, since it demanded much resources. It seems like as if fencing and rowing where somewhat exclusive sports to perform and hence only for the upper classes.16 Fencing can also be read as a militaristic form of exercise, which was most common within the middle class and upwards due to the increasing nationalism of the time. What can then be said of the outdoor environment of Lundsberg? What perhaps is most striking is the fact that the filmclip did not present a clearly defined area for the children to play. In his text historian Marc Armitage puts forward the notion that nearly all schools in great britain from the period of the 18th century and forwards had spaces clearly dedicated to play. Armitage do however provides somewhat of an explanation to the areas presented in the filmclip. According to Armitage not all architects during the 19 th century was in consensus about how playing should be performed or how the spaces for leisure time should be designed. In his text Armitage also presents a perspective that in short could be described as that many scholars shared the idea of schoolgrounds should be designated for promenades in fresh air, physicals drills and other useful activities.17 The notions put forward from Armitage in combination with Wendins text can give us some useful insight as to why the school and its surrondings was presented in the ways that it was. First and foremost, we can put forward the idea that nature provided a good place for children to spend their leisure time, hence the importance of the countryside in the filmclip. From the perspective of Armitage’s text we can also understand the school surrondings as a way to reflect on contemporary ideals, where playing should be done as physical exercise and that this ideal helped to shape how the schoolgrounds were portrayed. Summary and conclusions In the beginning of this text I formed three questions concerning how the school presented itself to the viewer. The most clearly defined and perhaps also the most distinct feature of the Lundsberg school where the uniforms. Here I put forward the notion that the schooluniforms perhaps was most dedicated to fill two functions. First and foremost they perhaps played the role of creating a “us” 15 Svensk filmdatabas, 00:02:00-00:06:19 16 Yttergren, Leif, ”Mellan hälsoval och Showidrott: några reflektioner kring idrottslivet i Sverige under 1800-talet” in Svensk Idrottsforskning, No 2, 2003, p.9-11 17 Armitage, Marc, ”the influence of School Architecture and Design on the Outdoor Play Experience within the primary school” in Paedagocia Historica, Vol 41, Nos. 4&5, August, 2005, p.538-540 within Lundsberg Boarding School. The fact that everyone was dressed rather homogenous probably helped overcoming differences within the group, such as conflicts between different social classes (the nobility and upcoming industrial families) from the perspective of Staiger and what was stated in the article in café. However, based on more nowadays portraits of the school such as the reportage from Café, I also think that the uniform formed a way for Lundsberg as a school to distinguish itself from the rest of the swedish civic society. In an era where schooluniforms was pretty unheard of in Sweden the use of uniforms could be a way for Lundsberg to not only create a community between the students but also to present Lundsberg as something rather different and unique towards their targeted groups. When it comes to the spatial conditions we can also see that some of the ideas from the contemporary English models are used. The physical spaces were primarily designed as sites of fresh air promenades and physical drills, rather than places that for leisure time. The way this areas are presented within the filmclip also provides with perspectives that the Lundsberg school was trying to create something different than the typical educational spaces in Scandinavian society at the time. The physical excercises at the Lundsberg where here close knit to both spatial and material conditions as well as ideological standpoints. Both the fencing-yard and the rowing-club seems to have been exclusive forms of excercises within the swedish society, something that Lundsberg made use of in the filmclip in order to present itself as a more exclusive school. The militaristic training also made use of the thought tradition and ideals of the target group that would buy a spot at Lundsberg for their children. How does then the study of these material and spatial factors produce new knowledge to historic sciences? In order to understand this we have to go back to the idea that a student desk is not merely a desk but also the result and influence of a discourse. It becomes rather clear when viewing the filmclip that certain ideals are represented in the filmclip and that these ideals have taken a physical manifestation within the spatial and material conditions of school life at Lundsberg. However we can also discuss the fact that these condition shaped many leading members of the swedish aristocracy, something that was shown in the reportage from 2008. I here would like to put forward, a perhaps to farfetched claim for this type of essay, that the conditions at Lundsberg also helped shape the identity of the swedish elite during many years to come. Wealthy industrial families have bough places at Lundsberg in order for their child to not only get a good education but also to gain acess to a form of social capital. If Lundsberg during the later part of the 20 th century continued to have spaces dedicated to rowing, fencing and the countryside this also become ideals of the wealthy upper-middle class. It would here be possible to make the claim that discourses from the 19th century kept on creating new discourses and ideals for years to come. This sort of claims does however need further in order to be fully accepted as scientific facts and hence the need of a disclaimer. I personally think that studying school life in many ways can be a way to study the society and it’s norms. The study of spatial and material condition at Lundsberg here not only becomes the study of schooling but it can also helps write the history of the ideals and thoughts of certain classes within the swedish society. Hence this sort of studies becomes more than just an glimpse at the everyday life at a swedish boarding school at the turn of the 20 th century but also the story of the society in which it was created. Sources and literature Sources: af Kleen, Björn, ”Följ med bakom kulisserna på Lundsberg” in Café, 2008, http://www.cafe.se/helglasning-den-nya- eliten/ (retrived on the 6/8-2016) Filmarkivet, Ett besök på Lundsbergs skola (1912), 2015, http://www.filmarkivet.se/movies/besok-pa-lundsbergs-skola/ (retrived on the 5/8-2016) Literature: Armitage, Marc, ”the influence of School Architecture and Design on the Outdoor Play Experience within the primary school” in Paedagocia Historica, Vol 41, Nos. 4&5, August, 2005 Boström, Ulrika, ”Seeing is knowing, or the creation of a new real” in Engaging with educational by space by Catherine Burke, Ian Grosvenor and Björn Norlin (eds), Umeå Studies in History and Education 8, Umeå, 2014 Burke, Catherine, ”Containing the school child: architectures and pedagogies” in Paedogica Historica vol 41:4-41:5, 2005 Florin, Christina, Från folkskola till grundskola 1842-1962, www.lararnashistoria.se, 2010 Lawn, Martin & Grosvenor, Ian, ”The materiality of schooling: introduction” in The materiality of schooling: design, technology, objects, routines by Martin Lawn & Ian Grosvenor (eds), Oxford, 2005 Staiger, Annegret, ”School walls as battlegrounds: Technologies of Power, Space and identities” in Paedagocia Historica, Vol 41, Nos. 4&5, August, 2005 Swedish National Encyclopedia, search term: skoluniform, http://www.ne.se/uppslagsverk/encyklopedi/l %C3%A5ng/skoluniform (retrived on the 6/8-2016) Thorp, Robert, ”contextualising and representing school: to contextualise a contextualisation, or the importance of the historical gaze” in Engaging with educational by space by Catherine Burke, Ian Grosvenor and Björn Norlin (eds), Umeå Studies in History and Education 8, Umeå, 2014 Wendin, Åsa, ”all children are monkeys at heart: Nature as the childs natural habitat in a southern sweden outdoors preschool” in Engaging with educational by space by Catherine Burke, Ian Grosvenor and Björn Norlin (eds), Umeå Studies in History and Education 8, Umeå, 2014 Yttergren, Leif, ”Mellan hälsoval och Showidrott: några reflektioner kring idrottslivet i Sverige under 1800-talet” in Svensk Idrottsforskning, No 2, 2003