Friday, July 01, 2005

My first encounter with Socialism

Oslo Girl's first encounter with Scandinavian Socialism:

My first encounter with Socialism

The year is 1984. I am a skinny ten-year old with long blonde hair and an almost equally long face and I've just moved from Long Island, NY to Oslo, Norway. I fly through the assignments and am impatient to learn more. I eagerly raise my hand and announce that I'm done and may I please start the next chapter? "No, Elise," I am told by the teacher whom I quickly grow to resent. "Not everyone has understood division yet. We only move ahead as a class." I protest, say I can do it on my own, can I just advance a few pages? To no avail. I am to wait patiently until everyone in the class, including G. who I suspect is mildly retarded, has understood it. It takes fucking forever, and I make sure the teacher knows I think so by rolling my eyes fairly often. In pretty bad taste I know now, but hey, I'm ten. Over the next three years until I move back to the States, I get used to the system and learn how to take advantage of it. I rarely do homework (we don't get grades, anyway) and only do the bare minimum of what's required of me. I guess you could say I am temporarily denerdified, although I fear I was on the verge of losing something far more important.

I have no idea if my experience is typical for Norwegian schools. As far as I know, I was just unlucky and had a bad teacher. I have, however, come to recognize my teacher's attitude as similar to one that is typically demonstrated (consciously or unconsciously) by the Norwegian Labour Party and the Socialist Left: There is no reason to work hard to achieve anything because the State will take care of your ass regardless. There is also no reason to assume any more responsibility than you need to, because the State knows what's best for you anyway. Forget about a social contract or any form for individual responsibility-- just lean back and enjoy the ride. I know it's a very complicated problem, but I sometimes wonder if there isn't any connection between this form of socialism and the fact that Oslo is the heroin-addict capital of the world?

Community sentence for torture

Political debate seems certain to erupt after a controversial sentencing decision where a man convicted of brutally torturing a victim received 90 hours of community punishment.


At July 01, 2005 10:41 PM, Blogger Rune said...

"What not everybody can learn, nobody shall learn."
- Ritt Bjerregaard, Social Democratic minister of education, Denmark, 1979

At July 01, 2005 10:50 PM, Blogger CH said...

"man convicted of brutally torturing a victim received 90 hours of community punishment."

Meanwhile in the strange norwegian bizzaro world of justice:

"Røkke was sentenced to 120 days, 90 suspended, meaning the business magnate will have to serve 30 days behind bars."

At July 02, 2005 4:49 AM, Blogger erp said...

Collapse of a once proud civilization.

At July 02, 2005 7:02 AM, Blogger Jude the Obscure said...

IQ testing was done as a matter of course up until 1970, for streaming i.e academic children (languages, maths), children suitable for business, and children suitable for technical (manual work) colleges. Then it was found that IQ tests failed most African/American children. First it was mooted due to English language difficulties, so they included graphics, then it was mooted due to cultural differences, so they wiped the whole testing. Then they did tests to prove that teachers favoured the bright students and made teachers accountable for pass rates - a percentage of the class. Classes then began to move at the pace of the slowest student in the classroom - believe me, I know, and teachers were told 'well, the bright students will learn in spite of the teacher, but the slow ones need the attention' and then good teachers left the profession because they couldn't bear the boredom. I was advised not to even try to teach Shakespeare (I was an English teacher for pete's sake) because 'they' wouldn't understand it. So the whole class suffered. Streaming was outlawed because it encouraged elitism. Teaching grammar was outlawed because it was 'too hard'. Failure was outlawed. No child was allowed to fail because it was bad for their 'self esteem'. Result? Two generations of adults who want to be doctors, lawyers, university professors, etc. and who have not got the intellectual capacity of a cockroach that was dropped on its head as a baby, but who know how to harass, threaten, or bribe with pop's money if they don't get their own way.

At July 07, 2005 1:18 PM, Blogger Gavriel said...

I've experienced the same speed penalty here in Israel, which has its own Socialist heritage: my daughter was chewed out by her teacher for working ahead in her math workbook. I wish I could convey to the teacher how much I appreciate her thoughtful squelching of my daughter's eagerness to learn.

At July 07, 2005 9:05 PM, Blogger Tor Inge Vevatne said...

Your experiance is not uniq. I had to stop doing my math problems, so I would not go ahead of the rest of the class. The idea is that everybody should be equal, not just treated equal. Lukely, a few years later, we got another teacher with a different attitude, and old sailor, by the way. He gave us old books, that were far more difficult, and encouraged everybody to do their best. He even gave us tests!!


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