Rønningen Rambling: The Norwegian Center for Writing Education and Research

Nasjonalt senter for skriveopplæring og skriveforskning (Skrivesenteret)

(The Norwegian Center for Writing Education and Research)

By Heidi Håvan Grosch

For the Norwegian American Weekly

10:30 a.m. A couple hundred people sit in the silence of a midmorning coffee stupor, listening to a five-piece string ensemble. 2:00 p.m… we relax after a lunch of shoptalk, lounging in the stadium-style auditorium to listen to the improvisational stylings of a well-known regional guitar player. A 15-minute opera appetizer, delivered by a young soprano, preceded our salmon at the evening festival meal. It was truly a day of celebration… and a bit unlike any other conference I’ve attended.

On Friday, Aug. 21, NTNU (the Norwegian University of Science and Technology) and HIST (Høgskolen i Sør-Trøndelag) celebrated the opening of the new Nasjonalt Senter for Skriveopplæring og Skriveforskning (the Norwegian Center for Writing Education and Research) with congratulations from politicians, presentations by local and international educators and researchers, and much prater (chitchat) among professional colleagues. The center will be housed on the HIST campus in Trondheim.

So what is a National Writing Center? One of the presenters took that question to her 2nd graders:

• It’s a place to store letters

• You can buy letters there, or use them like money

• They have a machine where you can write what you want and be rich

• It’s a letter playground

The new center will be those things, in a manner of speaking, because they want it to be a resource for teachers; a place where letters (and words) have value.

The opening of the National Writing Center comes at an appropriate time (and not just because I moved to Norway). The government has recently shifted its educational standards to stipulate that every subject has a writing component. Therefore there will be more of a focus on writing in subjects like math, science, and sociology, and not just the typical language arts.

That makes sense since writing is all around us. It’s a part of everyday life whether making out a shopping list, trying to put together a child’s toy or figuring out the signs on the highway. We need it in our jobs, to write reports or fill out applications. One speaker pointed out that something often doesn’t become fact until it’s written down, and then people believe it’s true, even if it’s not. That’s a lot of power. The Writing Center wants to give people the tools to become better writers, so they can communicate clearly what it is they want to say.

The Internet, computers and SMS (telephone text messages) have changed writing into a different kind of social interaction than in days of old. Gone are letters written on lightly scented stationary to a new beau. Gone are the calling cards, placed on a silver tray in the drawing room when the ladies come to call (ok, that was mostly in the movies). Complete sentences are being replaced by text message shorthand and instead of gathering at the local drug store for a soda (or more recently the corner coffee shop), friends are meeting on MySpace, Twitter and Facebook (internet networking sites). That kind of writing reflects the way young people put words together, and the Skrivesenter (Writing Center) wants to create timely resources for teachers to use.

I’m proud that the Norwegian government acknowledges the power and importance of the written word. I’m thrilled that NTNU and HIST dedicated staff and resources to make this possible. Everybody needs writing, and the National Center for Writing Education and Research is a gift to the Norwegian educational system (and to me!).


For more information go to the following sites (in Norwegian): www.skriving.no or  www.skrivesenteret.no

To learn more about Heidi Håvan Grosch, visit her website.

This article was originally published in the Norwegian American Weekly on Sept. 4, 2009. For more information about the Weekly, call us at (800) 305-0217 or email subscribe@norway.com.

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