10 amazing facts about Norway

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Little homework and no grades until 8th grade

Simply put, the education system in Norway looks like this:

Kindergarten – ages 1-5.
Children’s school (barneskole) 1-7 grade.
Lower secondary education (ungdomsskole) – grades 8-10.
Upper secondary education (videregående skole) in which students learn a practical profession or prepare for university entry – 1-3 years.
Higher education (høyere utdanning).

Compulsory education is up to and including grade 10, but you have to study more anyway because you’re only a tenth-grade student.

Children start school at age 6 and don’t have much homework in their first seven years at school. When they do have homework, it takes no more than 30 minutes. No homework is given for weekends or holidays. All pupils are given a lesson plan for the week which says what they will be learning in each subject and what they will have for homework.

Grades first appear in 8th grade. Unannounced tests in front of the board are not common practice. From 8th to 10th grade, students are given a two-week plan of study ahead of time that spells out what presentations or other assignments they must complete and when to turn them in to the teacher. Things are similar in Years 1-3, i.e. students know in advance when they will be tested in one form or another.

Parents prefer not to stress their children with too high academic expectations.

No private lessons

Due to the fact that there are not very high demands on the academic performance of students up to grade 8 and that the university is mainly entered with the grades from the videregående skole (1-3 course), there is also no massively developed demand and supply of private tutoring. In addition, the public feels that the school is obliged to give their children a good education, not to pay out of their own pocket for it. They pay high taxes anyway.

In the last few years, one or two companies have sprung up that offer private tutoring, but they are mainly aimed at students in the upper grades (1-3rd year) who need high grades to get into a desired major in a university.

Kindergarten – a place for free play

In kindergarten there is almost no formal education. Most of the day passes in free play, in which the adults working in the kindergarten often participate. Time there also passes in lively communication between adults and children. A group of 20 children is handled by 3-4 adults, only one of whom is required to be a preschool teacher by training. The children are treated almost as equals and are often given the opportunity to express an opinion or decide one thing or another. Children start kindergarten at age 1. By the time they are three, they sleep in the afternoon, but only if and for as long as the parents have allowed. There are no cots in the garden as children older than three do not sleep there at all. The little ones sleep in baby carriages and outside in the yard, even in winter. The children must be taken outside to play every day, whatever the weather.

The address of “You” – almost non-existent

Norwegian children address their teachers and adults by their little name and “you”. It is also unusual for adults to speak to each other in ‘you’, even when they do not know each other or are addressing officials of a public institution. Institutions, in their communication to citizens, also address each other as ‘you’.

Social skills – more important than intellect

It is more important for Norwegian society that children learn to communicate and get along well with people than that they are academically successful. Social skills and being comfortable in one’s own skin stand at a higher value level than the development of intellect and knowledge.

Norwegian school is not made for wunderkinds. If your child is smart and grasps the learning material faster than his classmates, he will be at a disadvantage. Most likely he will not get much encouragement or extra tuition and will stomp on the spot. At most he will be offered to do the material and assignments for the next class on his own. However, if you have a child with special needs or learning disabilities, they will be assigned an aide and will get much more attention and support than your smart child. There are no clubs for wunderkinds in math or any other science. Activities outside school are mainly some form of sport (football) or art (vocal group).

Two official written languages and a bunch of dialects

Norway has two official written Norwegian languages, Bukmol and Nynorsk. Bukmol, based on Danish, is the language left over from the years spent under Danish rule (1537-1814). By contrast, Ninorsk is much younger as a language, having been created in the mid-19th century and is based on Norwegian dialects and Old Norse.

Dialects are held in high esteem here, a source of pride and a sign of belonging. It is perfectly acceptable to use dialect at work, at school, at university, on television and radio, in politics, literature and music, and even in the royal palace.

Lunch from home and only one hot meal a day

Norwegians bring their lunch to work, school and kindergarten. Most often it consists of slices of bread and pålegg (anything you can put on them) – butter, caviar, ham, cheese or mackerel in tomato sauce. The Norwegian dinner (the only hot cooked meal of the day) is most often at 4 or 5 p.m., when everyone is home from work, school and kindergarten. If one gets hungry later in the evening, one has something light like knekkebrød – thin slices of special crusty rye flour bread with pålegg and possibly some fruit or vegetable.

Sunday – no open shops

If you forgot to buy something from the grocery store, you’ll have to wait until Monday, because they’re generally closed on Sundays. The same applies to all other shops. Shops and shopping centres are also closed on public holidays and public holidays.

State monopoly on the sale of alcohol

Wine, liqueurs and hard liquor are sold only in a special chain of shops owned by the state, called not accidentally Vinmonopolet – the wine monopoly. They are the only ones allowed to sell alcohol above 4.75%. There are no such shops on every corner and they are usually found in shopping malls.
You can buy alcohol from them on weekdays from 8 am to 6 pm and on Saturdays until 4 pm.

Beer and 4.7% alcohol can be bought at the local grocery store, but not at all hours. In the evenings after 8 p.m. on weekdays and after 6 p.m. on Saturdays, alcohol sales end. On Sundays and public holidays it is forbidden to sell alcohol. Drinks with an alcohol content of up to 2.5% may be sold at any time the shop is open.

Part-time work

Many workers in Norway do not have full-time jobs. For many this is a voluntary choice, but not for all. Companies advertise vacant positions with the amount of working hours they need. There are jobs with 10%, 20%, 30%, 40%, 50% etc employment. Women are the ones who most often fill part-time jobs. Around 36% of women in Norway work part-time against 17% of men. Normal working hours are 7.5 h per day or 37.5 h per week.

On the one hand, these jobs allow more free time for oneself and one’s family. On the other, they are economically disadvantageous because of the low income they bring.


© 2023 Lora Mitreva

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