Who speaks english?

Give examples of other varieties of English than those that are used in the Anglo-American core area and reflect on their distinctive character.

We often limit ourselves just to the few types of English we know of, which are British, American and also Australian English. However there is so much more to this mysterious language, and wherever we go, we totally unconsciously meet with different accents, dialects, and types of the language. This is exactly what we had focused on in today’s English class. Here are a few examples:

Jamaican English

The official language in Jamaica is standard English. Even though the USA is much nearer, it is due to the colonizations that Jamaican is based on British- and not American- English. The local English has, of course, it’s own specific accent. Patois is often a hot topic for linguistics and professors- some consider it as a dialect, others say that it is a language just like any other and should become the official language in Jamaica since everyone uses it on a daily basis.

Linguistics say, that Patois is a creole language. Sources to the Jamaican Creole date back to slavery. It has very simplified English and the languages of West Africa at its base. The black population of Jamaica derives mainly from the area of present-day Ghana. Over time, pronunciation, accent, and vocabulary were influenced by the newcomers from around the world.

Here is an example of the Jamaican Accent:

South African English

The South African variety of English is used in the Republic of South Africa (RSA). Even though the South African language has identical grammar and orthography as British English, there have been developed many vocabulary differences. Many loanwords come from the germanic language Afrikaans (Dutch, which got developed in Africa) and native African languages. What is also important, is that South African English is a native language just for 40% of the RSA residents, the rest of the citizens use Afrikaans.

The outstanding thing about this language is throwing in “ja” in places, where other English speaking people would rather say “yes”, “yeah” or “well. It is also worth looking at the use of “just now”, which doesn’t mean immediate action like in other parts of the world. The definition within this is more likely “in a while”, “in a few hours”. A similar phrase “now-now”, actually means in about half an hour. This is worth keeping in mind, as we might have trouble with communication while visiting this country.

Indian English

English came to India during the time of British colonization. As a result of this event, the Indian form of English was evolved, which was influenced by their native dialects. In recent years, English has gained in India the status of official language, next to Hindi. In addition, the English language used in India is also not uniform and there are differences depending on the region, mainly due to accretions of the mother tongue of the population.

Between the classic English and the language used in India, there are many differences at the level of phonological, which is associated with the properties of the phonetic alphabet of the Indian languages. For example, in the Indian variety of English, the vowel / e / is lengthened, even in monosyllabic words. Many common consonants for the English language do not exist in Indic languages, and therefore they are replaced by other consonants, which are on a similar level of articulation. Moreover, in some regions, the consonant clusters are not pronounced, and the words beginning with “w” and “v” sound similar. Some diphthongs are pronounced as a short vowel.

The vocabulary is also shaped differently – it is typical to blend English and the dialect of a given region to determine the nouns, especially flora and fauna.

Here, you can listen to how Indian English sounds:

I hope that just by these few exampled, you could somewhat expand your knowledge on the English language. It was very interesting to read about the differences and similarities, and to discover the variation in accents and dialects. I have certainly learned a lot, and I hope you enjoyed reading this post.

Sources:

https://annmichaelsen.com/2011/04/08/who-speaks-english/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_English
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ulster_English
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jamaican_English

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“Grand Torino”

“Grand Torino”is a film telling the story of a retired Polish- American, Korean War veteran Walt Kowalski. An equally important role in the movie have his neighbors, of Hmong decency. They don’t get along too well at first, but the circumstances lead to that the old man gets to know the family, and creates a unique relationship with the children. The film focuses on 5 particular topics, which are: death, family, personal relationships, racism and religion/faith. These points lead to several misunderstandings and also serious conflicts in the movie.  The message is to realize that despite cultural diversities and bigger number of differences than similarities, one is able to offer their life for someone they are fond of.

I have chosen 5 questions to answer in my blogpost:

  • How would you describe Walt’s relationship with his family?  At the start of the movie, Walt is seen at his wife’s funeral. What impression does he have of his son’s family from these scenes?

I would say Walt families behavior is one of the worst that can be found. There is no empathy from his sons’ side, therefore also the grandchildren have no respect for their grandfather. At the funeral, none of them seemed too interested and Ashley, the granddaughter, didn’t even bother to dress appropriately according to the occasion. This says a lot about them, and their relationship with Walt. They only visit him on his birthday, and also they use this occasion to try and talk him into moving to a nursing home and leaving the house in their hands. Therefore, Walt’s relationship with his family is only based on his fortune.

  • Walt states that Thao and Sue will never get away from the gangs that are in the neighborhood. Do you think that is a true statement? Can situations like this change without extreme measures?

I I have to admit that I disagree with Walt’s statement. In my opinion, a situation like this can change in the blink of an eye. All it needs is a little support from a caring and generous person, who wishes to help out and make these children escape the horrific environment they are living in. Usually youth like this is especially ambitious, and due to their cruel past, very successful.

  • At the end of the movie, Walt sacrifices himself for Thao’s family and the neighborhood. Was there any other way to get the same result? Why did Walt do what he did? Would he have done the same for his family? What makes or allows a person to make such a sacrifice for someone else?

There were many other ways to solve the problem, but  this was probably the most dramatic way to make the society aware of how dangerous the issue was. The police might have started a case, but it would take several months, or even years, to work out the connections between the gangs and their victims. Walt offered his life, so that the attackers could be caught red handed, on the eyes of dozens of neighbors. His plan was well thought through, as he didn’t even have a gun on him- this makes him innocent and clears him of all charges. I can’t decide if he would be able to do the same for his family, but I think that if he saw his granddaughter in the same state as Sue was, he would seek revenge no matter how rude or immature the girl is. What Walt did was an act of pure sacrifice for someone he loved, someone he was ready to die for.

  • Walt’s wife had asked the priest to get Walt to confess. Walt is resistant until the end of the movie. Why does he change his position about going to confession? Have you ever been adamant about something and changed your mind or gone through with it because a family member wanted you to? 

Walt realizes that he might not have too much time left of his life, he found out that he was sick, but what he was planning on doing was much more serious. Going to confession wasn’t necessarily a sign of weakness- actually, on the contrary, it was a way to show that he is strong, ready, sure of his decisions and aware of the consequences. We all often do things for our family even if we see no sense in them. Taking action just for the sake of making someone happy is a way to show that we really care, and are ready to do something, even when it doesn’t mean as much to us as it does to them.

  • At the end of the film, Walt bequeaths the car to Thao instead of a family member. Was this unexpected? The last scene shows Thao driving the car down the road. The car has not been modified. What does this scene signify?

I’ve expected Thao to inherit the car, mainly because of how close the young man was with Walt. He knew that the boy had changed and all he wanted was to get a normal job and for his family to be safe. The only condition Walt had, was that Thao wouldn’t modify the Gran Torino, and in the last scene of the film we see that the boy fulfilled the old mans will. The man trusted him unmistakably- when we see Thao driving the car, there isn’t one sign of change in the car. This scene signifies that the boy has respect for the old man, and is mature enough to be in possession of something with such great value.

“The Joy Luck Club” or “The White Tiger”?

It is the time of the school year when we get the possibility to immerse ourselves into the literary world of the English language. I love English literature, simply because there are so many creative publications to discover, and moreover, we aren’t restricted only to native English-speaking writers. Now that English is commonly known all around the world, anyone with enough enthusiasm, regardless where they come from, can publish their work in English.

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For those of you who might not recognize the first author- Amy Tan is a daughter of American Chinese immigrants, born in California in 1952. She makes an impression of a very wise and intellectual woman. In the interview she speaks about how hard it was for her as a child, to cope with the death of her brother and father within one year. She explains that moving to Switzerland wasn’t just a whim- it was a way to escape the problems and bad memories which were holding them back in California. I like the fact that she included members of her family in her books, she was very open about how they behaved and what their life really looked like.

However, this isn’t the first time I hear about this author. I was introduced to her work in the previous school year. After reading a short story written by her (you can find my blogpost about it here!) my knowledge of what it is like to be an immigrant in America really has expanded. The story we were introduced to last year, really caught my interest and I’ve been coming back to it ever since. In a way, it gave me the confidence to stand up for myself and keep fulfilling my dreams, no matter what others opinions were- just like the girl from the story.

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Therefore, when I found out that Tan’s book was one of the two we can choose, I made up my mind right away. However, I didn’t reject the other choice, without finding out more about the plot in the book. Aravind Adiga, born in 1074, is an Indo-Australian writer and journalist. He received the 2008 Man Booker Prize for his first ever novel, namely “The White Tiger”. His parents, who hailed from Mangalore were of Kannadigian origin, while Aravind was born in Chennai (Madras). He began studying in India, but later emigrated together with his family to Sydney, Australia, where he continued his education.

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His career began as an intern in an English-language international daily newspaper with a special emphasis on business and economic news (Wikipedia), where he published about the stock market and investment. However, he has always wanted to be a writer. In an interview, he mentions that “The White Tiger” is a story “of a man’s quest for freedom”. The story focuses on the social and political situation, but in Adigas view, the main character is trying to understand that all of this is a trap and that he somehow has to escape it.

The plot does sound gripping, especially with what is happening in the political world today. However, my choice lies in “The Joy Luck Club”, mainly because I got really absorbed by the Chinese culture and I want to find out more about the author and her life. I hope this is a good decision and that I will enjoy reading the book.

How do fake news influence our society?

 

Rumors spread in the speed of light, and most of us had probably at least once witnessed that in our lifetime. We expect the media to be a trustworthy source, and yes, there are many reliable newspapers and websites where we can find out about what is happening in the world. However, increasingly more fictitious websites and articles, claiming many untrue things- from small misunderstandings, to deliberate accusations- is being made.

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Fake news made by me in 2 minutes. So easy!

In today’s English lesson, we focused on the negative sides of the media and we talked about how it affects our society. We also discussed how the future president of the United States, Donald Trump, might have misused it to get into power. We have read a few articles that we found truthful, and tried to find conclusions based on the texts. Starting off with the video incident- president-elect forbade Jim Acosta, a CNN journalist to ask him a question, followed by calling the TV station “fake news”. This is an extremely provocative move, and disobeying the station put a lot of criticism on Trump. Without explanation, he accused the journalist, then ignored him for the rest of the video. This happened at Trumps very first press conference, on the 11th of January 2017. Already at the beginning of his presidency, he showed his ability to easily manipulate the crowds of the US.

An article by CJR explains the whole happening in detail. The most shocking fact of this absurd is that no other present TV station showed their support for Acosta, staying speechless throughout the whole conversation between Trump and the correspondent. According to the author of the CJR article I read in class, the rest of the present journalist’s duty was to either “pick up Acosta’s line of questioning, or even refuse to continue asking questions, until the President-elect acknowledges the organization he had earlier attacked.” What he also finds alarming, is that they weren’t ready to stand in Acosta’s defense- especially that this wasn’t the first time that the president-elect had ejected a reporter.

Even Facebook itself is getting involved in a project, with the objective to stop fake news appearing on that social media. On a daily basis, they manage to block some of the click baits, but there are many more that get to see the light of day.

“The Facebook Journalism Project will offer training and tools for journalists in order to assist newsgathering and reporting, as well as provide “new storytelling formats.”

Newsweek, 2017

Fortunately, there is a bright light at the end of this tunnel. Different domains are concerned and therefore finding ways to solve this problem. The platform has planned “a project for stronger detection of misinformation and improved verification methods.” This is meant to help decrease spreading fake news.

In order to minimize the amount of fake news which is being spread on the web, google is being more careful of what is being put out in their search engine. Many different fake news detectors are being established, like for example Hoaxy, which is supposed to help track untrue articles. However, we ourselves can also easily check, if what we are reading is genuine. By controlling other sources, the author and the general reliability of the website, we can easily see if the article can be considered as legitimate. We should also focus on the text as a whole, not only rely on the headline which might me misleading. It might be relevant to mention, that many newspapers and news sites, like eg. The Sun, Daily Mirror or Daily Mail, have a relatively bad reputation. Therefore to confirm the information, we should follow the steps I have mentioned above.

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My teacher created a padlet, where we could give our opinions on fake news and how we can avoid it. We have received feedback from many students and other people interested in the topic. Everyone has similar opinions and I also agree with all the comments. However, there is one entry that specifically caught my attention- from Cayden T Lewis. From his point of view, the real problem isn’t the fake news itself, but it’s the society which isn’t-and should- be able to distinguish the pseudo-news. In his opinion, the people should change their conception on the government and not only keep believing that it wants to hurt us. His solution to this issue is to give better education and increase the public opinion of the government. I feel I do relate with the author of the comment in some way, but I think there is so much more to it, that we could go on discussing the problem for days.

We had the opportunity to talk on Skype with students from South Africa, whom we asked questions regarding the fake news topic. It was a class of 15/16 year olds, all very involved in the topic. We wanted to know their opinions on the situation in North America, and whether fake news is an issue in their country. It turned out that we don’t really differenciate in our conclusions. This entails that regardless which country you live in, you get the same amount of information, as media spreads extremely rapid. On the padlet, we also got answers from students in Australia, USA and Bergen, a city which lies by the west coast of Norway. I reckon that they are in our age group, but I know that students from Bergen are in middle school. They wrote many smart comments, all relevant to the topic.

Staying focused on the fact that fake news is an actual and growing issue, I should also mention it’s affection on democracy and the future. The majority of USAs citizens are second class, working people with average education. Considering this, it is obvious that many of them are dependent on the politicians and their actions. However, due to their fair knowledge, they can be easily manipulated- and this is where fake news come into the picture. This has a massive and very negative impact on the democracy, which has trouble coping with the charges being put against them, and the need to explain every false article. If the society won’t think twice before believing something and is able to accuse without proper argumentation, the future of the world looks very alarming and doesn’t bode the best scenarios. Therefore, we, the people, should ourselves try to make a change to that- before it is too late.

I myself wasn’t aware what big of an issue fake news were until now. I was usually able to differentiate real and false posts on Facebook, but once in a while, I caught myself in believing untrue articles. After so much research on this topic, I am much more informed what kind of damage this issue is doing to our society. From now on, I am definitely going concentrate on being attentive to what I read, and mature in my judgments.

 

 

 

The Kiva Project- update

 

Josefina

We didn’t get to help Kevin Orlando because he got funded. We hope that his future is fortuitous. We then chose Josefina from the Phillipines and she needs 1025$ to buy organic fertilizers. We were the last funders and she has been now fully funded. We hope that her crops sell, and that we get our loan back in the near future.

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The Philippines

The Philippines’ location on the Pacific Ring of Fire and close to the equator makes the Philippines prone to earthquakes and typhoons, but also endows it with abundant natural resources and some of the world’s greatest biodiversity. The land is considered to be an emerging market and a newly industrialized country, which has an economy transitioning from being one based on agriculture to one based more on services and manufacturing.

Pros and cons of loaning   

There are many benefits of this, such as:

  • The woman gets a chance to develop her plants farm
  • She can make sure her crops get better support
  • We have the satisfaction of helping someone out

However, there are still some things we should take under consideration:

  • There is a risk that we might not get our money back
  • Her farm might not benefit as much as we would like

Looking over both the pros and cons, we can summarize that there are more advantages than disadvantages. There is always a risk in everything we do, but this case is worth it.

We hope that Josefina receives a loan of $1025 so he can buy organic fertilizer and pay to maintain her farm to provide it better support and improve its production, and that she and her family gets a better life.

Written with Ingrid, Sondre and Mathias

The Kiva Project

What is Kiva?

Kiva is an international nonprofit, founded in 2005 and based in San Francisco, with a mission to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty. They celebrate and support people looking to create a better future for themselves, their families and their communities. By lending as little as $25 on Kiva, anyone can help a borrower start or grow a business, go to school, access clean energy or realize their potential. For some, it’s a matter of survival, for others it’s the fuel for a life-long ambition. 100% of every dollar you lend on Kiva goes to funding loans. Kiva covers costs primarily through optional donations, as well as through support from grants and sponsors.

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“Not only are you empowering people who are living in poverty to make meaningful choices for basic human rights, you are also helping children to understand their responsibility to give back to the global community and appreciate the quality of life they enjoy.” New York times.

 

Pros and cons of loaning   

There are many benefits of this, such as:

  • The young man gets a chance to develop his coffee farm
  • He can make sure his crops get better support
  • We have the satisfaction of helping someone out

However, there are still some things we should take into consideration:

  • There is a risk that we might not get our money back
  • His farm might not benefit as much as we would like

Looking over both the pros and cons, we can summarize that there are more advantages than disadvantages. There is always a risk in everything we do, but this case is worth it.

 

Facts about Honduras

Honduras, officially known as the Republic of Honduras, is a republic in Central America. The currency of Honduras is called The Honduran Lempira and the currency code is HNL. In 2010 50% of the honduran population were under the poverty line. In rural areas six out of ten households live in extreme poverty, or on less than 25 US dollars per day. Honduras was declared a heavily indebted poor country by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund as of January 2012. Honduras is also inclined to experience hurricanes and droughts.

We hope that Kevin Orlando receives a loan of $675 so he can buy fertilizer and pay to maintain his coffee farm to provide it better support and improve its production, and that he and his family gets a better life.

Sources:

https://www.kiva.org/about

http://www.xe.com/currency/hnl-honduran-lempira

http://www.worldbank.org/en/country/honduras/overview#3

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heavily_indebted_poor_countries

Written by: Me, Ingrid, Mathias and Sondre

Dear President-elect Donald Trump, why climate change is the single greatest threat to a sustainable future

Dear Donald Trump,

The world is currently quite unstable and the US authorities are under a lot of pressure. This is a result of the recent US election, uncertainty as to what The Paris Agreement will bring, and the big discussion on climate change. I am dedicating this post to you, in order to inform you why the last issue mentioned above, is the single greatest threat to a sustainable future. Considering your negative opinion on this topic, I will try to bring you the alarming details, in hope that you might reevaluate your theory.

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Dear Donald Trump,

There is nothing easier than denying the existence of something, especially if it doesn’t have a noticeably big impact on our everyday life. Why then bother dealing with it? An opinion such as this one is unacceptable for a person with such big responsibility as yours.

Global warming is real, and it is happening at the speed of lightning. Melting icebergs, far too warm winters, higher wildlife extinction rates and higher sea levels are just a few of the thousands of consequences. We don’t even need scientific proof for some of these statements: all you need to do is to ask anyone over the age of 50, and they will all tell you “In my times, winter in Norway meant nearly 1m high snow and around -15 degrees Celcius on the thermometer. What we have now, can’t really be compared to the real definition of winter”. Do we really need more proof? Aren’t sentences such as these alarming enough?

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Dear Donald Trump,

Our world is in danger, and no-one’s personal beliefs should decide whether or not we will try to save it. The title you are about to receive doesn’t only give you the RIGHT to change things, but actually, you have the RESPONSIBILITY to do so. Your job is to steer the country, and you should step away and let the scientists and the experts analyze the level of dangerousness. My message to you is please, reconsider this issue and try to notice how it is slowly but surely destroying our beautiful planet Earth.

My advice to the Minister of Education (application)

Dear Torbjørn Røe Isaksen,

You’re probably thinking that I’m just another disgruntled student, upset about the 10% absence limit. Well, don’t get me wrong- I am disappointed about the policy; however, that’s not what I want to focus on in this blogpost.

School. I suppose this is a term to which you can relate and which has enormous meaning to you. Technology. Technology and school. Sound familiar? These words have a stronger relationship than one might expect.

On Friday the 28th of October, my English class joined our teacher at a conference held by NHO in Oslo, Norway. Ann Michaelsen spoke about teaching and education with a focus on technology, while others also shared their thoughts on the subject of school and learning. I have to admit that I left the building with a totally different perspective on the importance of ICT in schools.

Sandvika Videregående Skole, which is the high school I attend, places an enormous focus on using PCs in classes. Although there are undoubtedly flaws with the system that is currently in place, I believe that the pros certainly outweigh the cons and that the use of PCs and technology in the classroom serves to enhance our learning.

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Starting off with the benefits. Instead of carrying 2kg heavy paperbacks to school every day, we have the opportunity to use digital books in our learning. On the app we can make bookmarks, listen to the text aloud and write annotations to specific paragraphs. Computer in general make everything happen easier, faster and are more convenient. Getting quick feedback from the teacher or checking the work for plagiarism has never been easier!

Another central advantage of having PCs available in classrooms is the direct access they provide to social media, which also has the potential to enhance our learning when used effectively. I love using Twitter in our English classes. It is a wonderful way to communicate with the world without having to leave the room. These social media platforms provide me with the opportunity to have good communication with other students and the teacher, which makes the learning much quicker and more effective.

One of the most principal and influential ways of using the internet to learn is by writing a blog. Knowing that my posts will be out on the internet being read by many different people, only boosts my motivation to put in a lot of work when creating them. Reading other blogs inspires me and helps me to decide what I should include in my own posts.

Thanks to OneNote, taking notes in class has never been easier. We have many options for organizing our documents and those students with interactive screens have the opportunity to take notes by writing directly on the screen. In addition, PressReader is phenomenal for those interested in keeping up to date with the latest news. All the newspapers in one place- literal heaven for teachers! I love the idea myself because I can use the articles in so many convenient ways.

I could go on and on about the benefits of a digital classroom. The power contained in technology is enormous nowadays, why then exclude students from all the opportunities it carries? The world is gradually moving forward and so should the school systems.

However, we should at least be aware of some of the potential limitations or drawbacks that relying on PCs can result in.  One of the disturbing drawbacks could be limiting opportunities for students to learn proper grammar, punctuation, spelling and handwriting skills. While I certainly appreciate the fact that WORD automatically corrects the mistakes in  my texts, it does not necessarily provide me with the opportunity to research and learn these things for myself. The convenience of spell check probably means that I still won’t be able to spell the word correctly in the future, which probably means that I haven’t actually learned a single thing.

Another relevant flaw is the potential for teachers to lack proper ICT competencies. While some teachers are remarkably skilled in using PCs and make learning with them enjoyable, others have very few relevant skills. I am absolutely not blaming these teachers since many of them are still from the “pen and paper generation;” however, perhaps providing them with additional technology training would help students to get the most out of this type of education.

Last but not least, we have the good old (although equally important) issue of distraction. It literally takes 20 seconds to log onto Facebook and everything is gone- both the concentration as well as the ambition to do well in today’s class. And, if it is the last lesson of the day- forget it! How can we solve this problem? I really don’t understand why no one has done anything about this yet as there is nothing easier than blocking the famous Facebook, Netflix, Instagram while leaving the necessary sites open. One of the excuses might be that “Facebook is so easy to use when we have to send something in class,” but there are so many other ways in which we can do this.

And, as for mobile phones? Here it is the teacher’s responsibility to take charge. Every single teacher knows what the risk of having a phone on the desk is, but only a few of them have managed to deal with this problem effectively. Out of the 7 subjects I have, only two teachers have a routine- in one class we leave the phone on a desk by the door and in the other class we have to keep them in our bags under the desk. I must openly admit that those are the subjects in which I leave the class with a decent amount of knowledge.

Therefore, dear Minister of Education, my advice to you would be to focus on the three topics I mentioned above. I believe it would be worthwhile to offer every teacher a tutorial in the basics of ICT and provide some information as to how they can utilize laptops in their classrooms. I also assume that blocking distracting websites wouldn’t take too much effort…

In conclusion, teachers should be aware of the opportunities technology brings into our everyday lives. There are an infinite number of incredible and educational websites which can enhance our learning. Students, on the other hand, should know that laptops are practical for so much more than just watching movies. We should also learn the correct way of finding information, using sources and exploiting technical devices to their limits.

Road sign to  education and future

I imagine the classroom of the future with built-in desks, professional computers and other advantageous devices. The world is developing so fast that my grandchildren could be one of the first to experience this! I envision that already by 2026, schools will be paperless and technology will have provided smart alternatives. Maybe it will be laptops or tablets, or perhaps it will be something totally new! In this way, we not only benefit from saving the planet from a lack of trees but also expand our knowledge by using many beneficial programs.

We go to school to learn. I could equally well sit at home and do nothing, but going to school is my choice and my decision. This is the place that is supposed to prepare me for university and a career, to help me to achieve what I want in order to have a safe and happy future. This is exactly the reason why schools must be well equipped to prepare me for the challenges I will one day face out in the big world- a world where technology will undoubtedly play a major role in all of our lives.

My advice to the Minister of Education

Dear Torbjørn Røe Isaksen,

You’re probably thinking that I’m just another hateful student, angry about the unfortunate 10% absence limit. Well, don’t get me wrong- I am, indeed, extremely disappointed, but that’s not what I want to focus on in this blogpost.

School. Education. I suppose those are terms that you cam relate with and that have a enormous meaning to you. Technology. Technology in schools. Rings a bell? Well it should at least make some sense, as those two words have much more in common that one would expect them to have.

On Friday the 28th of October, my english class joined our teacher at a conference in NHO in Oslo, Norway. Ann spoke about teaching and education with focus on technology, while others also shared their thoughts on the subject of school and learning. I have to admit that I left that building with a totally different perspective on the importance of ICT in schools.

Sandvika Videregående Skole, which is the high school I attend, has an enormous focus on using PCs in classes. There isn’t a day where I wouldn’t be thinking of how tremendous, educational and futuristic the idea is. The pros overweigh the cons, but there are undoubtedly many flaws that someone should consider fixing.

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One of the disturbing drawbacks, would be the the limited opportunity of learning proper grammar, punctuation, spelling and handwriting skills. While most of the time there are many advantages of word automatically correcting my texts, I would imagine that it isn’t very educative. Probably the day after that I still won’t be able to spell a certain word, what means that I actually haven’t learnt a single thing.

Another relevant flaw, would in my opinion, be the teachers lack of proper ICT competences. While some of them are remarkably skilled and working with them using laptops is a pleasure, others have quite little knowledge in that field. I am absolutely not blaming them in any way for that, since most of them are still the “pen and paper generation”. Maybe the solution to this, would simply be to offer technology training, and teaching them a way to get the most out of this type of education?

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Last but not least, we have the good old, but equally important, distraction issue. It takes literally 20 seconds to log onto e.g. Facebook, and everything is gone- both the concentration, as well as the ambition to do well in today’s class. And if this is the last lesson of the day- oh my. How can we solve this problem? I really don’t understand why no one has done anything with this yet. There is nothing easier than blocking the famous Facebook, Netflix, Instagram, and leaving the necessary sites open. One of the excuses might be that “Facebook is so easy to communicate with, e.g., when we have to send something in class”, but there are so many other ways in which we can do this.

And as for the mobile phones? Here it is the teachers responsibility to take care of that. Every single teacher knows what the risk of having a phone on the desk is, but only few of them master this problem. Out of the 7 subjects I have, only two teachers have a routine- in one class we leave the phone on a desk by the door, and in the second class we have to keep them in our bags under the desk. I have to quite openly admit that those are the subject where I leave the class with actually a decent amount of knowledge.

Therefore, dear Minister of Education, my advice to you would be to focus on those 3 topics I mentioned above. A good idea would be to offer every teacher a tutorial on the ICT basics, and how they can make laptops useful in their classes. I assume blocking the distracting sites wouldn’t also be that much work.
Road sign to  education and future

We go to school to learn. I could equally well sit at home and do nothing, but going to school is my choice and my decision. This is the place which is making me ready for the university, work life, helping to achieve what I will in order to have a safe and happy future. This is exactly the reason why it has to be well adapted to what life might have in stock for me, and the requirements I will one day face out in the big world.