Geographical and Spatial Thinking in the Swedish Curriculum

  • David ÖrbringEmail author
Part of the International Perspectives on Geographical Education book series (IPGE)


This chapter concerns the views of knowledge adopted in the Swedish curriculum for state schools in an international context. It addresses how geographical and spatial thinking are expressed with regard to the subject specific abilities expected of students who learn geography. The introductory section highlights the current view of knowledge in the Swedish curriculum, explains how subject specific abilities for geography have been defined and used in the Swedish context, and describes their application in state schools. Importantly, these subject abilities are considered in relation to thinking both geographically and spatially. The research that underpins this chapter was conducted using a variety of qualitative methods: specifically, interviews with key people involved in the process of drafting education policy documents and analysis of such documents used in the making of the state curriculum. Interviews have been conducted with one of the authors of the curriculum, and with others responsible for curriculum development at the National Agency for Education. Policy documents from the Swedish Ministry of Education, from the National Agency for Education, and from curriculum developers have also been analysed. This chapter includes research findings based on the analysis of such material and reflections about how these sources of evidence can increase our knowledge of thinking geographically and spatially.


Geographic Information System Spatial Ability State School Knowledge Requirement Spatial Thinking 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Anderson, L., & Krathwohl, D. (2001). A taxonomy for learning, teaching, and assessing: a revision of Bloom’s taxonomy of educational objectives. New York: Longman.Google Scholar
  2. Baker, T., Battersby, S., Bednarz, S., Bodzin, A., Kolvoord, B., Moore, S., et al. (2015). A research agenda for geospatial technologies and learning. Journal of Geography, 114(3), 118.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Barrow, R. (1999). The higher nonsense: Some persistent errors in educational thinking. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 31, 131–142.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bladh, G. (2014). Geografilärare och geografiundervisning i den svenska grundskolan. Några delresultat av en enkätstudie, Geografiska Notiser, 4.Google Scholar
  5. Butt, G. (2000). Continuum guide to geography education. London: Continuum.Google Scholar
  6. Carlgren, I. (2009). Kunskapssynen I 90-talets läroplanskonstruktion. In I. Carlgren, E. Forsberg & V. Lindberg (Eds.), Perspektiv på den svenska skolans kunskapsdiskussion. Stockholm: Stockholms universitets förlag.Google Scholar
  7. DeSeCo Symposium. (2003). Contributions to the second DeSeCo Symposium. Neuchâtel, Swiss Federal Statistical Office (SFSO), Geneva, Switzerland, February, 11–13 2002.Google Scholar
  8. Egidius, H. (2006). Termlexikon i pedagogik, skola och utbildning. Lund: Studentlitteratur.Google Scholar
  9. Englund, T., Forsberg, E., & Sundberg, D. (Eds.). (2012). Vad räknas som kunskap?: läroplansteoretiska utsikter och inblickar i lärarutbildning och skola. Stockholm: Liber.Google Scholar
  10. Geographical Association. (2009). A different view: A manifesto from the geographical association. Sheffield: Geographical Association.Google Scholar
  11. Graves, N. (1982). New UNESCO source book for geography teaching. Longman: Harlow.Google Scholar
  12. Hanson, S. (2004). Who are ‘we’? An important question for geography’s future. Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 715.Google Scholar
  13. Ishikawa, T. (2013). Geospatial thinking and spatial ability: An empirical examination of knowledge and reasoning in geographical science. Professional Geographer, 65, 636–646.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Jackson, P. (2006). Thinking geographically. Geography, 91(3), 199–204.Google Scholar
  15. Kell, H., Lubinski, D., Benbow, C., & Steiger, J. (2013). Creativity and technical innovation: Spatial ability’s unique role. Psychological Science, 24, 1831–1836.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Lambert, D., & Jones, M. (Eds.). (2013). Debates in geography education. Abingdon: Routledge.Google Scholar
  17. Lambert, D., Solem, M., & Tani, S. (2015). Achieving human potential through geography education: A capabilities approach to curriculum making in schools. Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 105(4), 723.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Läroplanskommittén. (1992). Skola för bildning: huvudbetänkande. Stockholm: Allmänna förl.Google Scholar
  19. Massey, D. (2005). For space. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  20. Matthews, J., & Herbert, D. (2008). Geography: A very short introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Molin, L., & Grubbström, A. (2013). Are teachers and students ready for the new middle school geography syllabus in Sweden? Traditions in geography teaching, current teacher practices, and student achievement. Norwegian Journal of Geography, 67, 142–147.Google Scholar
  22. National Research Council. (2006). Learning to think spatially: GIS as a support system in the K-12 curriculum. Washington DC: National Academies.Google Scholar
  23. Örbring, D. (forthcoming). Dissertation at Lund University. Department of Educational Sciences.Google Scholar
  24. Peet, R. (1998). Modern Geographical Thought. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers.Google Scholar
  25. Skolverket. (2010). Redovisning av uppdrag att utarbeta nya kursplaner och kunskapskrav för grundskolan och motsvarande skolformer m.m. Skolverkets rapport nr U2009/312/S. Dnr 2008:741. Stockholm: SkolverketGoogle Scholar
  26. Skolverket. (2011a). Läroplan för grundskolan, förskoleklassen och fritidshemmet. Stockholm: Skolverket. Available online:
  27. Skolverket. (2011b). Planering och genomförande av undervisningen: för grundskolan, grundsärskolan, specialskolan och sameskolan. Stockholm: Skolverket.Google Scholar
  28. Skolverket. (2011c). Kunskapsbedömning i skolan: praxis, begrepp, problem och möjligheter. Stockholm: Skolverket.Google Scholar
  29. Skolverket. (2011d). Läroplan, examensmål och gymnasiegemensamma ämnen för gymnasieskola. Stockholm: Skolverket.Google Scholar
  30. Swedish National Agency for Education. (2011). Curriculum for the state school system, the pre-school class and the recreation centre (Lgr11). Stockholm: Swedish National Agency for Education (Skolverket). Available online:
  31. Tuan, Y. F. (1974). Topophilia: A study of environmental perception, attitudes, and values. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
  32. Wallace, S. (2008). A dictionary of education. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Educational SciencesLund UniversityLundSweden

Personalised recommendations