Inspiring Learning Life: Opening speech
Good morning everyone, and welcome to Norway!
The Crown Princess and I are very proud that Arbeidsinstituttet in Buskerud, AIB, is co-hosting this conference. Over many years, we have followed their work and their methods to make young people acquire a joy of learning. Therefore, our foundation is supporting AIB – because we see clear evidence of the effect it has on young people’s lives.
Since this is a conference about the joy of learning and teaching, I would like to quote a grand old man of teaching – Mr. Inge Eidsvåg, who for many years was the headmaster of the Nansen school at Lillehammer. In an article he wrote a few years ago, he reflected upon the reasons why he had chosen to become a teacher:
"The answer", he concluded, "is the joy." And he continued: "The joy I felt in 1967 when teaching my first students at a small high school – and the same joy I still feel today. What kind of joy am I talking about? The joy of storytelling, of explaining, of sharing, of listening, of being together. The joy of preparing, of trying out new methods. The joy of creating something new by blowing new life into old material. The joy of trying to awake something in my students, similar to what was long ago awakened in myself by my own teachers. The intense joy of the moments when my students and I have had a common understanding – when I have been able to reveal to them something they didn’t know they could need."
I think this is a beautiful backdrop for today’s conference.
But before I get into the excellence of AIB, I would like to look at history and how we arrived at the world we have today. Finally, I will say a few words about what it is like being young in Norway today.
So, let’s turn to our history, to the milestones in our timeline and the inventions that have brought us where we are today:
(SLIDES with timeline:
- Control the fire
- The plow
- Invented the wheel
- Written language/Sumerian
- Jesus/Common era
- Abu al-qasim al-zahrawi: Doctor/surgeon
- Ship compass
- Book printing/Gutenberg
- Mechanical clock
- Steam engine
- Steam locomotive
- Electrical light/lightbulb
Now we have looked at the history of the world. Where does this leave us today?:
There is a constant push for new ideas and innovation – which leads a high pressure on our work force and our students.
Being young has never been easy. It is a period full of extremes and strong emotions. In a sense, it is contradictory that we at this unsteady, difficult period in life are expected to make some of our most important choices – like education and professional direction.
Many young people struggle in school. In Norway, almost one third of the high school students drop out of school – for various reasons.
Young people today experience a lot of pressure regarding their achievements in school, with friends, in the social media, in sports etc.
The good news is what a great generation today’s youth actually is. Every year, NOVA (Norwegian Social Research) collects national data to report on the wellbeing of young people in Norway. The young generation today are actually quite impressive – the most recent numbers show that young people are:
- Less involved with crime
- Use less drugs than before
- Do well in school
- Are more happy with their families than earlier
On the other hand, many young people struggle with their psychological health. The study also shows that 25 percent of the girls aged 15-16 has depressive symptoms, that 20 percent report physical pain, and every third girl in this age group is generally not happy with herself.
I find this worrying. And that is why I believe it is so important to work together with agents in society who focus on the uniqueness and the strength of the individual. Those who acknowledge that every single person: young or old, ethnic Norwegian or with a different family background, straight or gay or transgender, healthy or with a physical or mental problem – everyone has a place in our society. Everyone has something important to contribute to our communities.
My wife and I have been working with young people for many years – mainly for this reason: We want a strong Norway for the future, where we also take our responsibility as global citizens. To achieve this, we need everybody onboard. And that is why we work with fantastic organizations like AIB.
This is also the reason why this conference – and the work each and every one of you do – is so important. Because the great common goal is education for all – with joy. It is to inspire each other to use our own resources – and to bring out the best in others.
Thank you for the important work you do every day in your home country.
I will conclude by showing you a short film about Tine, one of the heroines from Arbeidsinstituttet in Buskerud.