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Ditte Storck Christensen

Doctoral Student

Department of Education and Special
Visiting address
Västra Hamngatan 25
41117 Göteborg
Postal address
Box 300
40530 Göteborg

About Ditte Storck Christensen

My research concerns Swedish families who for various reasons do not want to comply with the Swedish law that states that children between the age of 6 and 15 are obliged to go to school (in Swedish: skolplikt). In common parlance, one say that these families want to “home school” or “home educate” their children. In Sweden this is not allowed. Before 2011, it was allowed - if not unproblematic - and there has been, in Sweden, a small number of home-educating families since the late 1970s. In 2011, the law was changed, however, making home education impossible. This created the phenomenon that stands in the focus of my research: migration of families interested in home education to the small island of Åland, which sits in the Baltic Sea between Sweden and Finland. There, home education is allowed. Since 2011, the number of Swedish home educated children in Åland has increased year by year, from 8 children in 2012, to 35 in 2017 to more than 80 in 2020, then comprising about 2% of all school-age children in Åland.

Since 2018 I have conducted interviews with these families, in their homes in Åland and in connection to family come-togethers in Åland and in Sweden. I have also interviewed a number of what are now young adults, who were home-educated in Sweden, when this was still possible. My main aim is to get a thorough grasp of how life plays out with home education for these families. I am also interested in how these families are affected by external conditions such as common attitudes in society towards home education in society and laws and regulations pertaining to home education. Last but not the least, I want to understand what particular set of circumstances made these parents take the often difficult step to move to Åland, and how such factors as income, employment situation, hopes and expectations, contributes to shaping the families’ lives with home education.

I also study the history of home education in Sweden. This research is based on public inquiries, laws, public debate, mainly in the period from the 1960’s to the present. As a complement to the analysis of published documents, I have conducted interviews with people who were part of home education networks in Sweden in the 1990s and the early 2000s. My interviews with children (now adults) who were home educated during this period has also provided valuable information to this study. This part of my research aims to contribute to the field of history of education, by documenting the emergence, development, and abrupt end in 2011, of the phenomenon of Swedish home education.