This is a pedagogical-historical thesis. The sources were some guides for teacher training, curricula and pictures. The latter show learning settings and materials for sensory training which were considered important in developing the children's senses, since it was supposed that sensory dysfunction constituted the retardation.
In Sweden, the education of mentally retarded children started in the 1860s.
Initially philanthropic, soon the county councils took interest in the work. By the end of the century, institutions had grown up in most of the counties, but the philanthropic institutions continued their work for a long time.
As far as education went, a school run by The Society for the Care of Mentally Retarded Children in Stockholm became the most important. This school, the first one in Sweden, was founded in 1870. In 1879 a teacher training college was connected to it. Teaching methods were developed and through teachers trained at the college the methods were spread out of the country. Parallel to, or even somewhat earlier than these schools, institutions for other groups of handicapped children, deaf-mute and blind, were founded. The education of "abnormal" people was used as a common concept for these schools.
An important point concerning the School for Mentally Retarded was the board's efforts to find the best leaders and the best teachers, the most important being the headmistress Thorborg Rappe and the female psychiatrist Alfhild Tamm. In contrast to the common practice in other European countries of engaging male physicians and priests as principals for the institutions, in Sweden it became a task for pedagogically trained women. In 1911 the school in Stockholm was replaced by a new institution in the countryside about 20 kilometres south of Stockholm. That institution adopted the name Slagsta skola och seminarium (The Slagsta School and Teacher-training College).
The education of the mentally retarded took inspiration from schools on the continent, especially the French ones. There, the two physicians Itard and Séguin, had developed programmes for the training of the motor and sensory functions. At this time it was supposed that retardation was due to disturbances in the sensory organs.
A second characteristic of the Slagsta method was all-encompassing education. This meant that studies over a period of time were concentrated on a special subject. There was no talk of a curriculum as in general education. While studying the subject the pupils used their abilities in reading, writing, counting, modelling, etc.
The Slagsta skola och seminarium was run by the Society until 1950. From 1951 the school belonged to Stockholm County. The teacher training activities continued for some years, but in 1959 were replaced by a new organisation for the training of teachers in special education.
Stockholm: Pedagogiska institutionen, Stockholms unviersitet , 2000. , 232 p.
Education of the abnormal; idiots, feebleminded, mentally retarded; motor and sensory training; broad education; Slagsta; Rappe; Tamm.