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11th April 2014 at 01:00

Lessons shared with a Nordic neighbour

We are a group of Danish student teachers who, in cooperation with the University of Strathclyde, recently visited a number of schools in Edinburgh and Glasgow. We participated in various subjects and were invited to speak to class teachers about their strategies. Our experience gave rise to some observations, set out below.

First of all, the organisation of the Scottish school system varies from the Danish because of the division between primary and secondary school. In Denmark, we do not differ between primary and secondary school. All Danish schools cater for ages 6-16.

Furthermore, teachers in Denmark are not divided into subject departments. When studying to become a teacher in Denmark, you choose two or three subjects.

The lessons we observed varied: some followed a teacher-centred approach while others were learner-centred. One example of a teacher-centred lesson was when a Scottish teacher asked students a question and they answered individually in writing. The Danish school system has a tradition of oral exams, so questions such as these would often be discussed orally in groups. It is arguable that assessing students' understanding is easier in writing.

We witnessed a great deal of formality, with students wearing uniforms and calling teachers by their surname. The hierarchy is explicit compared with the Danish school system. We expected the uniforms to create unity, but saw great creativity and personality in the use of make-up, hairstyle and accessories.

The enforcement of rules in Scottish schools is admirable. The whole school follows the same set of rules and confusion rarely occurs.

We also noticed a difference in the relationship between teachers and parents. In Denmark, teachers work closely with parents, who are allowed to contact staff whenever they feel the need to discuss matters concerning their child.

It was a positive and inspiring experience for us and we will use our knowledge of the Scottish school system and culture in our future jobs as teachers. We would like to thank the University of Strathclyde for making this exchange of knowledge possible.

Linnea Carlsson, Sara Del Toro, Catrine Jessen and Tine Larsen

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