Norway’s School

Oct 2, 2013


Discussion by: Nikobil

Hello, and greetings from Norway!

As some of you may know, Norway had its primary election just a few weeks ago. It was the conservative side that won, and yesterday, the two conservative parties "Høyre" (norwegian for Right) and The Development Party proclaimed that they are going into government together. Before they could do this, they discussed with two other right-wing parties who should create a government, for a couple of weeks. The other two parties are the Christian Party and a liberal party. The two last tried to get as many as their political cases into the government policies, and that is what I want to discuss here. 

In Norway, the religion-subject in school is called "Religion, philisophy and etics", and are thought in school from 1st grade where the six-years old children start. In 2007, Norway was  found "guilty" in the human rights court in Strasbourg for breaching human rights by having a subject called "KRL" (Christianity-class), which was the predecessor of RLE. Now, the Christian Party has managed to change the name of the subject once again, from RLE to KRLE = Christianity, Religion, Philosophy and Etics.

I don't even know what to say about this, I just didn't think that a country like Norway, who has come sooo far, would be going backwards in its development. The Christian Party got 10% of the votes, they are not going into government, but they still have a say when it comes to these sort of things. The parliament didn't even have a vote over this, it was just decided by the soon to become government, in an almost secret meeting with the four conservative parties.

I am interested in seeing what people from other countries think of this. Also, this is my first post on this website!

26 comments on “Norway’s School

  • 1
    DocWebster says:

    Educating the voting public is about all you can do, Elections have consequences, unless you’re a US republican, in which case the voters just made a mistake. I don’t know how universal voting is in Norway but getting the young people to vote always seems to improve the politics of the US so try that.



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  • 3
    Alan4discussion says:

    I recently put this link on another discussion.

    It shows what faith-heads will do if they are allowed to be involved in running education as a result of nutty political decisions!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-24360100

    A Muslim free school accused of imposing strict Islamic practices, such as segregated classrooms, has closed following an inspection by Ofsted.

    The school is also facing a probe by the Education Funding Agency.



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  • In reply to #1 by DocWebster:

    Educating the voting public is about all you can do, Elections have consequences, unless you’re a US republican, in which case the voters just made a mistake. I don’t know how universal voting is in Norway but getting the young people to vote always seems to improve the politics of the US so try that…

    That is what concerns me. I believe that Norway is a very educated country. Problem this year, was that we have had the same government for eight years, and this seems to have caused like a minor uproar among the voters who want something new. In the case of KRLE, it was a small minority that decided it, not the Norwegian public. This is nothing less than a bribe from Høyre and Development Party’s side, making sure the minority parties wont argue with them in the future. This is not how a democracy ought to work!



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  • 6
    History24 says:

    I am personally in the hilariously odd situation of being an atheist in a Catholic school in America. I am here for the academics, not the religion. We have classes on world religion, scriptures, and ethics, and the spin towards Christianity varies by teacher. The one I currently am in the class of is absolutely intrigued by having an atheist in the classroom, and often ask questions about ‘what the other perspectives think’. Not a totally bad approach in my opinion. They have a right, which they exercise, to teach Christianity as truth in a catholic school. Public school is a very different story. Student run clubs on religion is fine, and teaching the history of all religions, ethics, and different theological beliefs is actually rather important, but nevertheless the idea of teaching an individual religion as truth to children who are in a public school and probably either do not believe or are very impressionable is completely unacceptable. There is a need for education, not delusion.



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  • Hehe, I didn’t hink that Norway has some similarities with Hungary, where a below 1% party is in the government and has just introduced compulsory religious education – not of the teaching about religion type, but teaching kids to follow religious rules (you can find details in English at http://www.secularhungary.wordpress.com)…



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  • 8
    Nikobil says:

    A small edit of the main post: The Christian Party got 10 delegates in the parliament, I confused the numbers. They got 5.6% of the votes in the election.



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  • 9
    Nikobil says:

    In reply to #6 by History24:

    I am personally in the hilariously odd situation of being an atheist in a Catholic school in America. I am here for the academics, not the religion. We have classes on world religion, scriptures, and ethics, and the spin towards Christianity varies by teacher. The one I currently am in the class of…

    It sounds rather interesting being in your position, and I agree with you that faith schools have a right to exercise their beliefs. If faith schools is something good, is a different discussion, and Im sure we’ve all seen Mr Dawkins documentary of it.
    The people supporting this new law in Norway base their arguments on Norway being built on christian values etc., and that our cultur is based on the religion. They also say that the school will not by any means try to convert children to christianity. However: By saying that christianity must be atleast 55% of the curriculum, you do place one religion over the others. Also: Since it was the Christian Party who wanted this change, and most of them can honistly admit that they want Norway to become more christian, the law proposal is, by its very idea and makers, trying to convert children.

    Also extremely puzzling that they don’t care about the Humar Rights Court’s judgement of us.



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  • 10
    godsbuster says:

    Might this also be driven by a desperate need (whatever it takes even if it’s Christianity) to find an antidote to the Islamic plague that has broken out/ you’ve allowed to break out in your country?



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  • They will not get away with it! Crazy and disgusting attitude to democracy not having a vote on it. One step further and we will have to close the border!



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  • 13
    Imlekk says:

    Hi,

    I think you might be somewhat exaggerating and overblowing the issue, Nikobil.

    Is the new KRLE subject breaching the human rights in the same way as the old KRL subject? Probably not. Why? Because since those condemnations of the KRL subjects, there have been a few changes to our (Norway’s) constitution. One of them removing our state church. Up until May 2012 we had an official state church, into which almost every newborn child was included. This also explains why Norway, statistically, might show to have a high percentage of Christians, while in reality most people don’t think much about religion.

    Anyhow. My point is that the new subject plausibly don’t suffer from the same problem as the old subject.

    However, there are some concerns. One is the fear that some teachers might get a bit preachy. Statistical investigations in the old KRL-subject shows that most people do fine with neutrality. But extremities exist, where some only focus on ethics while others preachy their Christian religion. That’s a danger.

    Personally, the potential trouble I find the most disturbing is that the comparative structure of the subject will be lost. I’m a big fan of teaching religion – and comparing religions with each other. As it is now, 45 % is left for Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, Humanism, the Jewish religion… and ethics, the latter currently being a third of the subject. That is going to be interesting.

    Someone mentioned Islam. Yes, the immigration of a Muslim population is probably a factor. At least some people think so.

    Imlekk



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  • 14
    Nikobil says:

    In reply to #10 by godsbuster:

    Might this also be driven by a desperate need (whatever it takes even if it’s Christianity) to find an antidote to the Islamic plague that has broken out/ you’ve allowed to break out in your country?

    Well, the issue of Islam in Norway is another discussion. Correct me if Im wrong, but judging from your comment, you are on the side that believe Islam is becoming too big a part of the western culture? If so, you can relate to the Development Party, now in government, who for some years have talked about this issue, and it is plausible that they accepted the KRLE-proposal based on this.



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  • 15
    Nikobil says:

    In reply to #13 by Imlekk:

    Hi,

    I think you might be somewhat exaggerating and overblowing the issue, Nikobil.

    Is the new KRLE subject breaching the human rights in the same way as the old KRL subject? Probably not. Why? Because since those condemnations of the KRL subjects, there have been a few changes to our (Norway’s) co…

    You are of course correct in saying that KRLE will not be as “bad” as KRL, and as far as I know, they have not gotten any respond from the HRC yet, and I assume they must have an agreement with them before putting the new proposal in action. And while I might be exaggerating, understand that my view on this comes from an idealogic point of view and pure principle.



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  • 16
    godsbuster says:

    In reply to #14 by Nikobil:

    In reply to #10 by godsbuster:

    Might this also be driven by a desperate need (whatever it takes even if it’s Christianity) to find an antidote to the Islamic plague that has broken out/ you’ve allowed to break out in your country?

    Well, the issue of Islam in Norway is another discussion. Correct me if Im wrong, but judging from your comment, you are on the side that believe Islam is becoming too big a part of the western culture? If so, you can relate to the Development Party, now in government, who for some years have talked about this issue, and it is plausible that they accepted the KRLE-proposal based on this.

    “too big a part”?!? what part of Norwegian culture does Islam have anything legitimately to do with other than of late coming in and crapping all over the enlightened gradual and healthy atrophying of religion that has gone on for a century?

    Welcome to the site by the way.



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  • In reply to #14:

    The development party/progress party have been flirting with evangelical curches for as long as I can remember (look up Carl I. Hagens speech to “levende ord”) Their fear of Islam is not the reason why they allowed this, it’s simply a part of their political agenda.



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  • 18
    JustMe says:

    The vote result has economic reasons.
    Norway should be more like Germany.
    One day Norway will run out of oil and without the big oil revenues the welfare state is unsustainable.
    The benefits are too generous in Norway. It simply encourages people not to work.



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  • 19
    Stevehill says:

    What do these classes teach? As long as there is no worship or evangelising I really have no problem with religious education and I make my atheist children take RE classes at school (I can opt them out in the UK).

    Religion is an academic subject like anything else, and ignorance is dangerous. Here, kids learn about all the major faiths. It is part of our historic, legal and cultural heritage, whatever one’s own views. And you can’t really argue with religionists from a position of ignorance.

    Most UK kids end up atheists these days. Contrast America, where religion is kept out of schools, and nearly everyone ends up going to church!

    Given the 2007 human rights court decision, I suspect it is unlikely that the content of these courses will change, and they are simply changing the title to give the minority coalition party something to wave at their own voters. If the content were to change, Norway would again be in breach of human rights legislation, and no doubt the government knows that.

    Also, as Imlekk says, there is probably a desire by the Right (an anti-immigration party) to get the ‘Christian’ brand out there in the face of rising numbers of Muslims. A bit racist, maybe, but also perhaps understandable from the perspective of (small-c) conservatives anxious to defend Norwegian culture.



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  • 20
    nick keighley says:

    In reply to #10 by godsbuster:

    Might this also be driven by a desperate need (whatever it takes even if it’s Christianity) to find an antidote to the Islamic plague that has broken out/ you’ve allowed to break out in your country?

    what islamic out break?



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  • 21
    Nikobil says:

    First of, I got several mails showing me new comments, but I cant see them all on this site? Don’t know if something is wrong with the site, or Im just too stupid to find it out.

    A few people have commented on the welfare state we have here in Norway. I want to clearify that I don’t necessarily agree with the government we’ve had for the past eight years. And I while I added this thread to the “politics” section, I wasn’t after discussing whether the welfare program is a good thing or not, that is entirely off topic.

    About the issue of Islam in Norway: Calling the immigration of muslim people to Norway “the islamic plague” is not only an extrem statement, but also wrong. We are not being threatened with Sharia laws or burkas. I will though admit that we have certain problems with the immigrants, but my view on that is the issue of intergration, and how the state is not doing enough to get the immigrants into work and to include them in society.
    Putting this in context with the Christian Party: Correct me if I’m wrong, fellow Norwegians, but the impression I have of the Christian Party, puts them in a group concerned about the well being of immigrants, especially immigrant children, or children born of immigrants. One of their main beliefs, is that we should help people in need, in both Norway and around the world. Because of this, I don’t think the Christian Party want KRLE to fight off the “islamic plague”. I think that KRLE in other voters view is a good thing, as they are the ones concerned about muslim immigrants.

    And as said: Correct me if Im wrong.



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  • 22
    Vikranersciel says:

    http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/lifematters/creationism-in-queensland-schools/4496260

    Well this is happening in Australia and I think the best thing that you could do as a parent is to join an action group and put pressure on the government to change the law or education policy regarding this.

    Our public schools have chaplains and quite frankly the absurd amount of religion encroaching on government funded school students is insane.

    In the mean time there are educational facilities online that are free, you can download apps which teach math, science etc to children at all educational levels.

    Perhaps this is the only immediate option for some parents.



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  • 23
    JustMe says:

    Nikobil you are naive.
    “We are not being threatened with Sharia laws or burkas”
    Really?
    Watch http://youtu.be/M4ZllIoagsQ

    “I will though admit that we have certain problems with the immigrants, but my view on that is the issue of intergration, and how the state is not doing enough to get the immigrants into work and to include them in society.”
    Many immigrants integrate into the society without any government help while on the opposite side many others simply refuse to integrate.
    As an atheist I agree that all religions have a negative influence on the society. But Islam is far worse than the others. Islam is still stuck in the Middle Ages. Believing in invisible flying pigs is stupid but it’s a harmless form of stupidity while believing that you will be rewarded in Heaven with 72 virgins for killing infidels it’s a very dangerous form of stupidity.
    On the other hand many Muslim immigrants have little or no education, little or no skills. They don’t bring any benefit to the society.They are a burden.
    Cultures and civilizations are not equal. Western civilization is simply better because we share a better system of values that allowed us and still allows us to prosper. The backward system of values is what keeps the Islamic world underdeveloped. While some Muslims are happy to adopt our values after escaping their prison-countries, many others want to impose their value system on us.
    But of course I am a racist according to the left wing for speaking the truth.
    And I really doubt Norwegian conservatives are crazy nuts like the Republican conservatives from the US.



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  • 24
    TheLittleHelly says:

    I think a huge part of the problem here is that when you force though that 55% of the class should go to teaching about the Christian faith, you will have parents who will not want that for their children. When I went to school and the subject was called KRL my parents applied for me to be taken out of the class and to be placed in a class where I would have neutral teachings, which I was. What you lose then is a broader look on it because children who come from a background where you are being encouraged to ask questions about this and be skeptical are often the kids who are taken out because their parents don’t want religion forced on their kids.

    I think this change is a huge step backwards and I think its important that the Norwegian people voice their opinion on this.



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  • 25
    jagdpanther says:

    one thing i think should be done is scattering the immigrants, rather than placing near on all of them in Grønland, where they group together and develop immunity to western community.

    perhaps find some room for them in other cities. Bergen, for example. dotting them about all of southern Norway would be good.



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  • 26
    Mike Jarrett says:

    Here in New South Wales religion is taught in State schools. It’s called scripture and was taught once a week. Parents could opt out of it which it did. They put my son in a class room with a DVD of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. He saw the film so often that he could recite it word for word to and decided he wanted to attend Scripture. Anything was better then watching Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone one more time. By then he was in second year and had been watching that film since year one. This is in a state school remember. I let him make his own decision. I have always done my best to teach him to think for himself. After the boy next door who was a few years older then him blew the myth of Santa for him he came home from school and said, “Dad Jesus is a bit like Santa, isn’t he.” So my fears of him being brainwashed were quelled. About a year ago the State Government brought in a bill to teach ethic classes as well as scripture. We have a member of the Upper House known as the Rev. Fred Nile who lobbied his brains out to stop the bill. His Party and another hold the balance of power in the Upper House. Fortunately the Opposition backed the bill and it got through. As long as you have the option of Ethic classes in Norway I wouldn’t care what they called it.



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