Prytz (2017) has studied the production of textbooks in mathematics in Sweden, 1930–1980. We have conducted a similar study of Norwegian textbooks, expanding the period covered due to the timing of Norwegian curricula. Changes in the school system and in mathematics curricula have been similar in Norway and Sweden, with Sweden often being a few years ahead (Smestad & Opsal, 2022). In Sweden, textbook review became voluntary in 1974, while in Norway textbook review remained compulsory throughout this period.


The textbooks are important sources for studying what happened in classrooms. “In the 20th century, the role of mathematics textbooks as a supporter or mediator of reform has been increasingly recognized” (Rezat et al., 2021, p. 1190). An overview of when new textbooks have been produced and when new authors entered the scene, is an important prerequisite for studying change in the content of the subject of mathematics, including the impact of curriculum reforms. Conducting similar studies in different countries is important to facilitate comparative research.


The method includes systematic searches of the National Library of Norway catalogue, supplemented by searches in other sources, including lists of government approved textbooks, to create a database as complete as possible. The database includes grade levels, publishers, authors etc. The resulting overviews of textbook production for various school levels, is discussed in light of curricular reforms and other political developments concerning schools. Key questions are:

  • What were active and less active periods of textbook production in the period 1930–1986 in Norway?
  • At what times did new publishers and new authors arrive?
  • To what degree is the development in Norway and Sweden similar?
  • Did the abolishment of textbook review in Sweden, and not in Norway, lead to differences in textbook production patterns?


One potential finding is that textbook production increases at times of curricular reforms, but that the influx of new textbook authors differs between reforms. Other findings could be the differences and similarities between Sweden and Norway.



Prytz, J. (2017). The production of textbooks in mathematics in Sweden, 1930–1980. In K. Bjarnadottir, F. Furinghetti, M. Menghini, J. Prytz & G. Schubring (Eds.), “Dig where you stand" 4: Proceedings of the Fourth International Conference on the History of Mathematics Education. Edizioni Nuova Cultura.

Prytz, J. (2016). The construction of a database regarding Swedish historical textbooks in mathematics (grades 1–9), 1900–2015: A technical description. Uppsala Universitet.

Rezat, S., Fan, L. & Pepin, B. (2021). Mathematics textbooks and curriculum resources as instrument for change. ZDM – Mathematics Education, 53, pp. 1189–1206. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11858-021-01309-3

Smestad, B. & Opsal, H. (2022). Trajectories of New Math in the Nordic Countries. In D. Tröhler, B. Hörmann, S. Tveit & I. Bostad (Eds.), The Nordic Education Model in Context: Historical Developments and Current Renegotiations. Routledge.