Everyone can relate to the feeling of having a teacher who has ruined the joy of learning by being authoritarian or downright mean. This can certainly sometimes relate to the personal chemistry between teacher-student. Alternatively the teacher is authoritarian in his professional practice to control a group of students. The teaching role has traditional been authoritarian. As a Swede, you can relate to a classic film called ”Hets” with a script by Ingmar Bergman where a student who struggles with his Latin is under hard pressure by a sadistic teacher called ”Caligula”. This off course results in the inability to learn. I am not going to reveal the end but it leads to a tragedy.


Furthermore, an educational environment where the students themselves are responsible for upbringing / control of classmates has been described in a Swedish book that later became a film. The name of the book/film is “Evil” by Jan Guillou and has been a classic book for youths since it was published in 1981. It became a popular film in 2003. It depicts violence as a method for older students to control the younger ones.


The films cannot be considered to represent a Swedish school culture in 2021, which must be described as generally good. Sweden has well-educated teachers who doesn’t leave the responsibility to the students (1). However, both films have contributed to the debate about the role of teachers and pedagogy. The films may probably be considered to depict a bygone era.

When we build new classrooms online and hybrid solutions; will ”Caligula” and other authoritarian teachers be given the same space as in the traditional classroom? Will a learning environment characterized by bullying be able to exist? We know that bullying is available online. New technology leads to new ways of exercising power. Parents of today know that the problems my generation had with relationships with classmates / teachers remain but with different expressions. Technology is not going to go away. In recent years, there has been a growing realization that there is a growing incidence of cyberbullying. University’s need to tackle and reduce this problem (2).

However, at a time when both the teaching role and the technology / learning environment have changed, there is a great opportunity to build learning environments that are more individual and promote cooperation in a safe way. If you struggle with language like the student in ”Hets”, you can listen to audio books instead of being forced to read out loud under pressure. You can take quizzes online to learn vocabulary instead of being forced to do homework during Caligula’s supervision. We can build online environments where there are more opportunities to easily change group / environment if they are dysfunctional or somebody experience bullying. However, there are challenges to understand how the social interactions change, which will also affect the negative aspects of the social environment (3) online. We must be able to combine the learning activities that are social by nature with individual activities. There should be increased freedom of choice based on students’ preferences, everything does not have to be based on the physical classroom as a model.

Some random thoughts related to topic 4:

  • I will place greater emphasis on clarifying the expectations / social codes that exist when we use digital teaching. Martin Weller described this well when he talked about the architecture of learning.
  • The flexibility of working in a digital environment and the ability to connect people adds value! Use it!
  • Sometimes we divide the learning between campus / online too much …. a well-organized course with committed teachers who support the students can be conducted in different forms.
  1. The Importance of Pedagogical and Social School Climate to Bullying: A Cross-Sectional Multilevel Study of 94 Swedish Schools. Hanna Hultin PhD,Laura Ferrer-Wreder PhD,Karin Engström PhD,Filip Andersson MSc,Maria Rosaria Galanti MD, PhD,
  2. Myers, C. A., & Cowie, H. (2017). Bullying at university: The social and legal contexts of cyberbullying among university students. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology48(8), 1172-1182.
  3. A Comparative Study of Cyber bullying among Online and Conventional Students of Higher Education Institutions in Pakistan. MS Mirza, S Azmat, SZ Malik – Journal of Educational Sciences, 2020 – jesar.su.edu.pk
Design for online and blended learning