Skolans statliga uppdrag
kompetensutveckling och kulturreproduktion
What tasks constitute the basis of the mission that the school as an institution is expected to fulfill in the Swedish society? In this article, I attempt to problematize that question. Few would oppose the notion that the school’s mission includes passing on knowledge as well as social norms. But what kind of knowledge should be put first in the day-to-day activities, and which social norms can and should be given priority? I argue that the school’s mission can be divided into two basic categories, here labeled competence development and cultural reproduction. The aim of the former is to educate the students with present and future societal needs in mind, focusing on growth – i.e. preparing the future labor force, taking macroeconomic and production factors into account. The task of cultural reproduction, on the other hand, is based on the notion of liberal education, where the aim is to reproduce societal values such as cultural heritage, democracy and citizenship. The difference between these two categories and their respective goals creates a number of tensions, resulting in a high degree of complexity in the daily school activities. Nevertheless, there are areas where the two categories at least partly intersect, meaning that the possibility of reaching a consensus does exist.