Teacher of tomorrow

Photo courtesy of Tonje Selbekk Selbekk on Utøya during the camp in 2015, the first summercamp on the island after 2011.

Photo courtesy of Tonje Selbekk
Selbekk on Utøya during the camp in 2015, the first summercamp on the island after 2011.

Heidi Håvan Grosch
Sparbu, Norway

I work with student teachers this semester at Nord University in Levanger, and it’s exciting to share literature and tips for teaching English in creative ways with these young people who are education’s future. In her final year of college, I asked Tonje Selbekk to share a few insights into her life as a student and her thoughts on becoming a teacher.

“It is a cliché, I know, [but] I want to become a teacher because I want to make a difference,” she said. After a few years of active involvement in the political system, working with international politics in AUF (Arbeidernes Ungdomsfylking / Youth Worker’s Party) and as a member of the Trondheim city council, Tonje headed in a new direction. Since primary school, people had told her that she would be a teacher, even though at that age she wanted to be an actress, and at age 19 she finally decided they were right.

As a survivor of the attack on Utøya July 22, 2011, Selbekk found that sharing her experience with others helped with her healing, and it solidified her understanding that teaching was a good choice for her future. She chose Nord University (then HiNT or North Trøndelag University College) because it was close to her home in Trondheim but still provided a bit of distance, and it didn’t hurt that the school had a good reputation. It has “great teachers, good practice opportunities, and a lot of good activities and happenings after school hours. It was easy to make friends, and it’s easy to find something to do outside of school.”

Currently the leader of Nord University’s Levanger branch of Pedagogstudentene, the student organization connected to Utdannningsforbundet (the teachers’ union), Selbekk continues to use her political savvy to better the Norwegian educational system. Her theatre passion is also fulfilled in her role as a light tech for concerts and events on Røstad Scene, the student bar and stage on campus. I have observed Selbekk’s passion for teaching during class and think her future students are in for a treat.

This article originally appeared in the Feb. 12, 2016, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly.

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