Minnesota students teach in Norway

Part One: The American education majors embark on a Norwegian teaching adventure


Photo: Flickr / Bernt Rostad
Nøtterøy videregående skole is located just outside of Tønsberg, Norway, with its idyllic harbor.

All three of us have always wanted to study abroad during college, but we had no idea that it would be in Norway. Curriculum in education is very state-law oriented, which makes the best option for student teaching to do so abroad. Minnesota State University offers its education students the opportunity to do this in Costa Rica, which is where we all assumed we’d end up, as well as Australia and the United Arab Emirates.

But with the help of scholarships and the faculty of both MSU-Mankato and the University of South-Eastern Norway, we—Brett, Dylan, and Tom—are the first students to take part in a new student teacher exchange program between the two universities. We’re teaching in Nøtterøy videregående skole (high school), a mid- to large public school just outside of Tønsberg, Norway (population of around 40,000).

At the school, we’ll be teaching ancient and modern history, political science, American contemporary issues, and English. In addition, around 80 percent of the school’s teachers have reached out to us about using our American viewpoints in their classes.

The public school system in Norway has a very similar schedule to that of an American university, where the students only see their various instructors two or three times a week. For this reason, we’ve focused much of their instruction on project-based learning. In all of our main classes, the students will be participating in a month-long project of their choosing (as approved by the teachers). For example, in our ancient history class, the students are working on developing the skill of self-research, to prepare them for university. They must create a class-length presentation, video, podcast, etc., that compares the ancient Mayan civilization to another ancient civilization of their choosing.

Outside of being in the classroom, we student teachers are also participating in a number of extracurricular activities with our students, giving instruction in archery, frisbee golf, canoeing, and dodgeball. We will also be attending a three-day hiking excursion to western Norway with 20 students, where we will be completely living off of the land during the three days.

We couldn’t be more grateful for this opportunity and want to thank USN, MSU-Mankato, Nøtterøy High School, and the people of Tønsberg, Norway, for turning this dream into reality.

Stay tuned: Brett, Dylan, and Tom’s adventure has just begun! We’ll check back in with them as they navigate not only learning to teach but also the delights, challenges, and surprises of living in Norway. Until then, lykke til, student teachers!

Brett Pederson

Photo courtesy of Brett Pederson

Brett Pederson is a senior at Minnesota State University-Mankato, studying Social Studies Education and Political Science. He is originally from St. Cloud, Minn. Brett has wanted to become an educator since he was 12; the positive influence a teacher can have is something he felt was always calling his name. He has chosen to emphasize political science, specifically focusing on American civil rights and international relations. Outside of school, Brett focuses his time on fitness, cheering for the Minnesota Vikings, and traveling. Most of Brett’s ancestry traces back to Norway, so he is thrilled to be close to his roots this semester.
Dylan Ek

Photo courtesy of Dylan Ek

Dylan Ek is a senior at Minnesota State University-Mankato, studying Social Studies Education and History. He is originally from North St. Paul, Minn. Dylan started his university years by pursuing a career in Computer Information Systems. After realizing that he wanted to make an impact in other’s lives rather than sitting behind a computer screen all day, he switched to education. He has chosen to emphasize in history, specifically focusing on early American history. Outside of school, Dylan focuses his time on being outdoors and hanging out with his friends and family.

Tom Zinselmeier

Photo courtesy of Tom Zinselmeier

Tom Zinselmeier is a senior at Minnesota State University-Mankato, studying Social Studies Education and History. He is originally from Des Moines, Iowa. Tom decided to go into the education field during his junior year of high school, when one of his history teachers turned his life around in a way that no one else could. He has chosen to emphasize in history, specifically focusing on the World War II and Cold War eras. Outside of school, Tom focuses his time on athletics, coaching football, and cheering on the Manchester United Soccer Club.
This article originally appeared in the September 7, 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.