Norwegian education


Republica National Daily

I am always interested in how schools and colleges function in different parts of the world. I take interest in the basics when I read crises in countries from Sudan to Afghanistan.

Norway and conflict are heterogeneous terms in the context of its cultural orientation. It is a gentle nation in multiple ways. Everything looks and reads refined in this Scandinavian country. The peace-loving people are traumatized by the act of a man. Who is responsible for the massacre? The man called Anders Breivik. Neither he represents Norwegian psyche in general nor is he alone in this world of infinite madness. He is not a typical Norwegian but belongs to the cult of extremism who pace upon the face of the earth, everywhere from Kathmandu to Oslo. How to put the world in A-B-C?

My question is not about blaming a person or two, this cultural system or that one. I would be foolish to blame one person for the crisis and killings. The blame game is very discursive and controversial. My concern is how to produce lesser number of such extremists in the world of access to knowledge about humanistic education in our misconceived vocational and practical education.

Instead of looking for evident reasons behind an event of critically violent magnitude, I would take interest in the educational systems which are the sufficient conditions for making who we are and what we become. High West is supposed to be avant-garde in everything critical and creative, and its educational policies too are worthy of being the best models.

I recently followed the curriculum of Norwegian Primary, Lower Secondary, and Upper Secondary education. I am not an expert but surely an academic enthusiast to comprehend the nature of pedagogy. I understood the following. Norwegian concentration on Vocational Education Program is commendable, and its newer focus on the Program for General Studies is equally worth valuing. Everybody there must have General Studies in the Secondary levels (a comparatively latest educational move in 1994 Reform). Students specializing in General Studies go for Sports and Physical Education, Music, Dance and Drama, and Language and History in general. Furthermore, the objective of the Cultural Rucksack and Knowledge Promotion programs in Secondary Levels are the latest reforms in education in the country.

We are narcissistic in education and narrow-nationalist in perspectives. It is not Norway but most of us in our educational psyche are self-centered. The broader humanistic education is fundamentally ignored.

Norway is an open society where multiculturalism is appreciated. How much its education system in general reflects a value-ridden humanistic education of global perception? Norway is just a case today. Let me give you an anecdote. The powerful Mughal emperor of India, Aurangzeb once became furious on his Maulabi, the teacher. The teacher taught him everything possible, about the Greeks and Chinese, about Aristotle and Confucius but always instructed him that the Mughals are the greatest of all. When the king grew old and read the epistemic glories of the world civilizations, he realized that there were greater civilizations than his. He wrote a letter to his teacher: Do not even think about returning to Delhi. I would not hesitate to put you to death. So come once and take your belongings and never ever return to show me you sycophant face. Since you were my teacher I forgive you, despite giving me incomplete education.

We are narcissistic in education and narrow-nationalist in perspectives. It is not Norway but most of us in our educational psyche are self-centered. The broader humanistic education is fundamentally ignored. The Humanities is gone to the lazy ones amidst the active professionals in the world of developmental visions!
The French philosopher Jacques Derrida always wanted to introduce philosophy in the High Schools so as to orient students toward values and critical systems of thought. He was an avant-garde humanist and misunderstood by many Western educationalists.

We cannot ignore imparting the basic humanistic education to the very little ones. Multiculturalism should enter into the bones of any exemplary education system. The liberal arts of prime concentration: Aesthetics, religions, societies, cults and cultuses must be the grammar of the nature of education. Do I claim that Anders Breiviks will not exist then? I do not. My argument is that so far as I have looked into the contents of Norwegian education—general Western school pedagogy for that matter too— it seems to be self-centered.

As if Europe does not want to know the other and does not need to necessarily orient its children to open up to the knowledge of the world when they are in their formative years of education. One may object to the types of education which prepare us only to stand firm of the competitive economic world system.

Multiculturalism is not immigration-opening up merely but to decide how to educate our children about multicultural sensibility. I do not say that Breivk is the product of Norwegian education; I say that the most urgent one is to initiate openness, tolerance, and democratic sensibility to rethink about how we shape the minds of our children in our schools. If you are a sensible person with pedagogic humanistic vision, you will be dissatisfied by what you see in the school syllabus of major European modes of education. It is too much Euro-centric. We all are self-centered.