Minnesota students teach in Norway

Conclusion: Impressions of a whirlwind experience

Emily C. Skaftun
The Norwegian American

The three students who traveled to Norway to student teach (“Minnesota students teach in Norway,” Sept. 7, 2018: www.norwegianamerican.com/features/minnesota-students-teach-in-norway) have returned to Minnesota. Back in their regular coursework, they’re busy processing what they’ve learned from the experience. But I was able  to get a few thoughts from Brett Pederson.

Brett Pederson

Photo courtesy of Brett Pederson

Emily C. Skaftun: What was your impression of Norwegian students?

Brett Pederson: The students in Norway were absolutely fantastic, and I was beyond impressed with their desire to learn. These students are more than willing to accept any challenge given to them and with having to do so in a language that is not native to them, I was so proud of them.

Although it kills me to say it, given that I will be teaching in the States for probably most of my career, the students in Norway were by far more respectful of authority than what I have ever witnessed here. I didn’t have to deal with a single behavior issue, which is almost unheard of in that length of time.

ECS: How does their education compare to the one you just received in high school?

BP: As I expected, Norway has an educational system that I doubt I will ever see topped. College is free for everyone, so the bar is set exceptionally high, as only those who do very well in their K-12 studies will have the opportunity to earn high-paying degrees (medicine, finance, etc.). Only one student in all of Norway received perfect grades in their classes last year. This student was even honored by the king and queen for their outstanding performance. In order to receive perfect scores, student work has to be just that: perfect.

I was also impressed by the fact that in the high schools there, the “lower achieving” students are placed in what they call vocational high school. Instead of having a standard five-course day with history, science, math, etc., these students spend each day developing some sort of skill (plumbing, nursing, firefighting, etc.). Our school even had what looked like a full hospital for the students studying medicine.

ECS: What was it like living in Norway as an American?

BP: Living in Norway as a Minnesotan was not difficult at all. Our cultures are extremely similar, being that Minnesota has one of the largest northern European backgrounds. I have more culture shock when I travel to different areas of the United States.

ECS: How was the food?

BP: The food was great, but I will admit, I missed being able to grab a dollar burger at a fast-food chain from time to time. I love lamb, which is difficult to find in America, so I took full advantage of this being a main dish in Norway. One of my favorite dishes that we frequently had was actually reindeer.

ECS: What was your favorite thing?

BP: The thing I’ll miss most is the funding and respect that education receives in Norway. It felt like I was being treated like a king.

My favorite thing about all of Norway, though, was the pure beauty of the country.

This article originally appeared in the October 5, 2018, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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The Norwegian American is North America's oldest and only Norwegian newspaper, published since May 17, 1889.