Swedish education has a whole lot of issues, we all know that. But there is one thing that has bothered me all my life: mediocrity. Rather, the expectation of mediocrity. There is a very common expression in both Swedish and English, which is "aim for the moon; if you miss, you'll land among the stars" ("sikta mot stjärnorna så når du trädtopparna"). However, Swedish education seems to tell students to "aim for the table; if you miss, you will get to sit down comfortably in a chair of low expectations".
I saw this happen at a lecture this week. The teacher asked us to say the name of the linguistic feature of a word on her PowerPoint, and one student gave her the right answer, but the teacher told the student that they were too specific (she did it in a very condescending way, too). Imagine if she had shown us a picture of a gun and asked what it was, and told the students who said it was a gun that they were too specific; it is a weapon! Now, what does this tell the other students in the room? Not only does it tell them that they don't have to know a whole lot, but it also tells them that they shouldn't. This trend can also be seen in lowering expectations in order to give students better grades, instead of finding out why students fail to meet expectations.
These expectations (or lack thereof) creates a society in which stupidity is totally fine. No wonder we have a whole page dedicated to horoscopes in almost every newspaper. No wonder people get away with "creating their own truth". No wonder people think that vaccines will give their child autism, or think that Bob Dylan is even eligible for the Nobel Prize in Literature. Just because people have access to the internet does not mean that their opinion is fact, and that this "fact" trumps the facts presented by scientists, researchers, and other people who actually know what they're talking about.
Shallow stupidity is celebrated in TV-shows such as Keeping Up with the Kardashians, Paradise Hotel, and all the housewives in all the places. People are constantly told that being famous is everything, no matter the cost — which will also make you rich, which is "yay!" in capitalist societies. Some argue that it's the people's own responsibility not to get influenced by the messages in the media, but I ask: how in the world will people be able to analyse things critically if their education has failed them? If education has turned mediocre, how can the people be anything but?