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  • Writer's pictureArchil Tsulaia

Job Shadowing in Norway

Updated: Apr 1, 2022

The job-shadowing was a part of the long term project 1+1 Synergy for Democratic Culture. Between 14 - 19 March 2022, a team from Georgia followed and closely observed educators from the Sund folk college, while they were performing their daily educational activities.

Four participants of the job shadowing were introduced to the concept of informal learning and how their Norwegian colleagues teach their students to be independent and democratic citizens in society. Four majors were presented to the participants during the week:

  • Jazz music

  • Sport/excursion

  • Traditional handicraft

  • Photography

The participants were able to see the educator's and pupil's daily life in school.

WHY SUND FOLK High School?

It is the oldest folk high school in Norway and has existed since 1868.

The folk high schools in Norway are based on non-formal learning, and at the same time are acknowledged as an important part of young people’s education before they enter university or the job market. A folk high school is a place for young people to be curious, creative and to discover their interests within different topics such as art, culture, sports, entrepreneurship, society, politics, solidarity, environment and sustainability. While at the same time increasing their understanding of the self, others and the world around them. The main aim of the folk high schools is life enlightenment, public education and democratic education.

As the 1+1 Synergy for Democratic Culture project aims to support the policy transfer in the field of education and youth through creating a platform for dialogue and awareness-raising specifically of Education for Democratic Citizenship and Human Rights Education (EDC/HRE), the Sund Folk High School fits perfectly into this portfolio.

The mandate of the school is to strengthen the students’ democratic competencies. Folk high schools are based on non-formal education principles. A very distinctive feature of folk high schools is their freedom. There are no fixed curriculum, grades, or exams. The folk high schools are free to design their educational practice and to plan the content of courses and activities based on the individual school’s core values.

Report from Salome

Salome currently works as an ESL teacher in a rural area in the Samtskhe-Javakheti region of Georgia and she is involved in the project as a Youth-worker.

Why did you decide to take part in this job shadowing?

To start with, the main goal of the project is to establish partnerships between professional associations, youth organizations and folk high schools, since I’ve just started my working career, I wanted to gain some knowledge from a very experienced people who were eager to share their teaching methods and cooperate with other teachers.

What did you like the most about the project?

I really enjoyed the fact that this project gave youth workers and teachers the ability to meet new colleagues, cooperate with each other and improve their capacities in the educational field. This project gave me the chance to get in touch with new people who are real professionals of their work from almost all over the world.

Is there a specific activity from the project that you would like to use in your work?

I would definitely use some activities from the project but cannot specify one.

Would you take part in the job shadowing again /or recommend it to others?

I would definitely recommend job shadowing since it widens your perception of your profession and gives you the great chance to meet new people in your working field, make friends and share your experience with others.

Report from Bakur

I am Bakur Khijakadze, civic education teacher from Rustavi. I teach civic education in N18 public school in Rustavi. To improve and develop my teaching skills, I participate in various educational programs and workshops, of which I want to point out the project 1+1 synergy for democratic culture. This project is created in cooperation with 5 partner organizations from Europe and Georgia. The organizations involved in the project are youth organizations, professional associations, folk high schools, and school-based civic clubs. I take part in this project as a member of the civic education teachers forum. This project has a goal to promote democratic culture and democratic competencies in schools with the cooperation of teachers and youth workers. So far in this project, we had two 6 days long training: one about democratic culture and the whole-school approach which was done in Georgia and another about teaching human rights which was conducted in the Czech republic.

The next phase of the project is job shadowing. I had an opportunity to go to Norway with my three colleagues to attend and observe educational processes and school life in general in Sund Folkehøgskole. This folk school is nothing like the average school or college you might think of. sund folkehøgskole is in region called Inderoy near the small settlement Stroamen. From classroom windows there are spectacular views of the fiord and the sea. But what is even more impressive is the educational process held in this school. In Sund folkehøgskole students go after they have done high school, usually at the age from 18 to 21. Here they can choose one course of several that the school offers (photography, jazz, historical handicrafts, street food, expedition and sports..). The students not just learn but live in the school and fully participate in school life and administration. Apart from courses they take part in kitchen work, gardening and taking care of school in general.

Usually, the day in Sund Folkehøgskole starts with...SINGING! students from all courses gather in the main lecture hall, choose a song with a teacher and sing joyfully, then they discuss important matters of the day before going to classes. After one of those gatherings, I went to photography class where I spent about three hours observing the process in which students were presenting their portfolios. It was very interesting to hear teachers' evaluations not just about content but also pieces of advice for marketing and business related to photography. The next impressive lesson was in Jazz class, where the teacher gave students notes which they had to figure out by themselves and the next half an hour was chaos which in time turned into a beautiful Jazz symphony. It was so interesting that there was almost no mentoring but all teamwork, the class was singing notes together and in this group work I could see individuals figuring out their parts. After jazz, I went to a small building in school yeard. There I found students carving benches out of old boards. It was not a lesson, but a group work for creating a cosy room with long benches and a fireplace for school.

Everything I described, is a daily life of a school. The students from different courses gather all together in the morning and during meals. Everyone is goal-oriented. Here are no grades to evaluate students' work but if you see the results you would not want to have grades either.

As I mentioned above, the school has several more courses which I couldn't attend, because each of them were on international tours to see and experience different countries' approach and diversities in regards to their course topics.

I also had an opportunity to be present at the teachers' meeting. I appreciated the fact that at teachers' meetings where they discuss important issues, 2nd-grade students are also present, and participate in the decision-making process. While I was present at the meeting, they discussed several very serious topics and I could observe this process was very smooth, without any tension or extra formalities. I couldn't feel the existing hierarchy between teachers and students as they were interacting with each other and solving issues together.

To sum up my impressions of Sund Folkehøgskole, it was a very memorable experience that made me want to implement the following approaches and activities in my work:

  • Including students in every decision-making process that concerns them

  • Reducing hierarchical patterns in relationships between a teacher and a student

  • Setting up cheering activities like singing in the morning as a tradition to start a day/work.

  • Less formality and more humanity

It was an eye-opening adventure in many ways. I'd definitely take part in job shadowing again to see and learn the experience of other countries. I would recommend participating in job shadowings to anyone who is willing to improve skills and knowledge or wants to be a changemaker.

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