Fostran i förskolan.

Bigsten, A.
Doktorsavhandling. Göteborgs universitet.


The purpose of this study is to obtain knowledge about the phenomenon of upbringing (fostran) seen from the perspective of preschool teachers (förskollärares). This is achieved by examining the reasons behind preschool teachers’ own actions when bringing up children at preschools — i.e. their intentions, motives and actions - and by studying the significance preschool teachers attach to their own actions in interactions with children. The point of departure of the study is that preschool teachers have the intention of forming and influencing children’s development and actions towards a behaviour which is considered desirable by society as well as by the preschool teachers themselves. Upbringing can therefore be anchored in a societal task as well as in the preschool teachers’ own experience, and the end goal can be that children grow as individuals as well as citizens.



The study shows that the reasons behind preschool teachers’ own actions when bringing up children at preschools primarily concern children's rights. The general patterns identified by the author can be described on the basis of three essential aspects of upbringing: 1) Preschool teachers want to respect each child’s uniqueness, 2) Preschool teachers want to achieve order, and 3) Existence: preschool teachers want to lay the foundations for life in the future. The reasons behind preschool teachers actions therefore arise from their intentions to ensure children the right to be accepted as unique individuals, the right to a preschool life with order and predictability, and the right to existence and to have hopes — both now and in the future. The author finds that there is a dialectical relationship between these three rights, but also that the rights are created by relationships. Furthermore, the author finds that the rights enable children to experience what is required of every single individual in order to co-exist. With rights come responsibilities, both for establishing relationships and for individual actions.

The study shows that the reasons behind preschool teachers’ actions vary depending on whether the needs of the group as a whole, or the needs of the individual child, are prioritised. This indicates that there is no single 'right' way of acting, because preschool teachers take different views depending on the situation. The study also shows how different rights may sometimes contradict each other, partly because society’s demands on the individual child are in conflict with the child’s intentions. The relationship between existence and uniqueness signifies the value of being a unique individual alone as well as the value of being a unique individual together with others. While it is generally believed that the unique child should be able to act in accordance with his/her own capacities, at the same time the child is required to act in a way which corresponds with society’s expectations of a future citizen. Therefore, the author finds that there is contradiction between uniqueness and existence.

Finally, the study shows that the right to order concerns the child’s possibilities to gain insight into his/her situation, which, among other things, gives the child a sense of predictability and safety. Order brings structure and direction, which are necessary for the collective life at the preschool. The study shows that, as a right, order has both a relational and an ethical function. The significance of order becomes evident in the meeting with others, because this is where favourable conditions for interaction are created. At the same time, order serves both as an end and as a means to create other values, such as caring for others, safety and protection against injury.



Data collection was based on video footage and individual interviews with nine preschool teachers (förskollärare). A preliminary pilot study was carried out at a Swedish preschool, whereas the main study was carried out in four different sections at four Swedish preschools with children aged between 3 and 5 years. Interactions between the preschool teachers and a total of 64 children were recorded on video by the author. Subsequently, the author selected the video sequences that could possibly concern the phenomenon of upbringing. These video sequences formed the basis of the interviews centering around the following questions: What is happening in this sequence? What is it important for children to learn in this situation? Why is it important for children to learn this? Finally, the author had follow-up telephone conversations with the nine preschool teachers.


Bigsten, A. (2015). Fostran i förskolan. Doktorsavhandling. Göteborgs universitet.

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