The Intricacies of Educational Development in Iceland: Stability or Disruption?

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


The chapter will explore the development of the Icelandic education system by using a twofold historical perspective. More specifically, the analysis will look at the very long-term development and then the period 1990–2020. Using only the latter focus in isolation may lead to an erroneous interpretation of recent developments and that is why we also include the longer perspective. In the first of three sections, we describe examples of educational development with reference to six characteristics, arguing that these reflect distinctive developmental dynamics, and these are very important in order to grasp the nature of this development. Second, we address educational governance to clarify what changes can clearly be attributed to this important component of an educational system. Thirdly, we note that there are additional examples of specific efforts to influence educational development that could equally have been taken up for discussion to clarify our main argument, which is that specific actions rarely have the intended effects. In this discussion, we claim that Icelandic education has certainly developed and is being governed, but it is argued that the latter has mainly a facilitatory influence on the former. We see little sign of hard governance and perhaps minor signs of soft governance and the influence from outside, in particular from OECD through the mechanisms of social technology.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWhat Works in Nordic School Policies?
Subtitle of host publicationMapping Approaches to Evidence, Social Technologies and Transnational Influences
EditorsJohn Benedicto Krejsler, Lejf Moos
PublisherSpringer, Cham
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-66629-3
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-66628-6
Publication statusPublished - 24 Mar 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG.

Other keywords

  • Compulsory education
  • Development of education
  • Governance
  • Iceland


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