Svenska Tribunen -- January 28, 1885Swedish and American Education
Editorial: Herman Annerstedt, captain in the Swedish Navy, has written in his "Memories from America" a sarcastic article in regard to the general educational methods in Sweden as compared with young people's education in America. He says: "We have our own system in Sweden. Every boy in Sweden must have an education, either private or public, and most of them attend the public schools. When the young man is eighteen or nineteen he quits the school and starts life. He approaches life with hat and cane and white collar. He knows the names of the small rivers. He speaks Latin, Greek, Hebrew, German, French and English, sometimes Danish and Norwegian, which is a terrible mixup. But who needs them?
No foreman can put them to work in a factory. No farmer can put a plow in such hands. He intends to serve the government or to continue his studies at the University or at some business college. He tends to these studies very well until he is nearly thirty years of age, and then he starts 2to earn his living. Can all this be right?
All education in America has but one goal: It is your absolute duty to live, but, to live you must work. The English language dominates the grammar school. One is taught to think, speak, and write his thoughts clearly and straight forwardly. Students usually read American history, and geography. These, together with mathematics is the minimun every American gives his children up to fifteen or sixteen years of age. Then they start their lives. If one has the ambition to continue his studies, there are colleges and universities,of course, and there is plenty of room for every one. But here I speak mainly of the great working class.
At the age of fifteen a boy has a fair education, is still young and happy and not overworked, as in Sweden, and not "boiled out," as in England. Then he gets his mother's blessing, and $25 or $30 cash from his father and uses five years- and what years to travel around and learn half a dozen trades; for a couple of months he works on a farm in Nebraska, and learns how to produce wheat. Then he starts to work in a shoemaker's shop in Boston, or as a blacksmith in New York for half a year or so. Sometimes we find him as a miner 3in Pennsylvania, and then as a carman for a couple of trips. Two years or so later we find him to be a watchmaker in St.Louis, studying philosophy in his spare time. Or he is in charge of cattle out in the prairies until he is twenty or twenty-one. Then he is a man. He hasn't read as much in books as we in the Old World, but he has experience for good or for bad.
We conservative Scandinavians should get a lesson from all this here mentioned; viz, to change trades in time if we have made a bad choice; to do anything and everything with a little more speed; to save up for a rainy day. In other words, we should not be ashamed to work, work with our two hands!"
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