Norway to the future
Monday, April 05, 2004
Education on the right track
Most of the news about Norway's future are not about cutting edge biotech research, quantum computer projects and the like, unfortunately. So, I try to find trends in other places.

We are so few people in this country that one primus motor within a field can make a difference. Arne Trageton is such a figure. He has been pioneering computer-based reading and writing education for our 1st- and 2nd graders. Here in Bergen, we now have 2000 kids learning reading and writing on computers. (A quick look at some facts about Bergen shows that this is about a third of all the 1st and 2nd graders here). He has been touring around, and believes that within 5 years, learning to read and write on computers will be widely implemented in Norway.

(A personal note: I was staying up way too late yesterday, reading one of the transhumanist canon's main works, The age of spiritual machines by Ray Kurzweil. In his predictions for 2009, which was the last thing I read before falling asleep, this was his main point on education. Arne and Ray, I hope you are correct.)

This is also consistent with the latest white paper on education from the Ministry of Education and Research. The introduction to the policy draft states:

Vi skal styrke elevenes grunnleggende ferdigheter. De er redskaper for all annen læring og derfor avgjørende for videre utdanning og arbeid. Meldingen fremhever det å kunne uttrykke seg muntlig, lese, skrive, regne og bruke digitale verktøy. Slike ferdigheter er nyttige og nødvendige for å skape materielle verdier, men de åpner også veier til dannelse og livskvalitet som ellers ville vært stengt.

For the linguistically challenged, the main point here is that they want to strengthen the fundamental abilities of the students. The fundamental abilities include -- in addition to reading, writing and doing maths -- "using digital tools". The education minister have also focused on more hours for classroom teaching, more tests, a controversial decision to only have students get grades in their main tongue (we have two, slightly different, forms of Norwegian), and is trying to implement daily physical education to increase the overall health and learning ability of the students. Healthier and better educated people is and will remain to be one of Norway's most important assets, so these steps are definitively in the right direction.

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