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Norwegianness in Plural
Teaching session

Norwegianness in Plural

About session


  • Encourage reflection and mutual understanding of different perspectives on being Norwegian.

This exercise consists of multiple activities where the students are askes to reflect upon and discuss different understandings of what it means to be Norwegian.


Part 1: Are you Norwegian?

Time: approx. 20 min

The students work individually to give keyword answers to the following questions:

  • Do you consider yourself Norwegian? Please explain.
  • Is this important to you?
  • When is it important to you (places, contexts, events, timing)?

Next, the students form groups and share their answers and explanations. Once everyone has shared their material, the group should discuss the following:

  • Were there any differences or similarities in the explanations?
  • Who decides whether someone is or can become Norwegian?

See also "Part 5: Additional task". This exercise can also be done as part of preparations.

Part 2: Dimensions of Norwegianness

Time: approx. 30 min

  1. Give a piece of string to each group and ask them to place it in a circle. (The circle symbolises “boundaries” and should – in line with the objective of the exercise – not be a “perfect circle” but one that is slightly uneven, with a few nooks and crannies and with gaps underneath in some places.)
  2. Distribute cards with “Dimensions of Norwegianness” (sorted into piles by color). Explain that the cards contain short keywords relating to things that may have something to do with Norwegianness. There is no correct answer as to whether or not they do.
  3. Each group should then try to agree on what is important to being Norwegian.
  • Centre of circle: important to being Norwegian;
  • Further out: less important to being Norwegian, but still possible to be Norwegian;
  • Outside the circle: impossible to be Norwegian, or entirely irrelevant to the question about Norwegianness.

One student at a time places all the cards of the same color and justifies their decision. Next, the group should discuss and reach an agreement on where the cards should be placed while trying to explain the background to the different views. Some of the cards contain words that can seem difficult or unclear – that is often because they are unclear! Let the students discuss and do their best to reach an understanding of the words.


Dimensjoner ved norskhet - arbeidsark

Part 3: Reactions - Living together

Time: approx. 30 min

Hand out the document “Dilemmas to each group. Ask them to read through the text and choose a dilemma they want to discuss. Let the students discuss what they think are good or correct considerations, arguments or solutions to the issue. They can also discuss other dilemmas if there is time. The teacher could also select dilemmas in advance.

Dilemmaer - arbeidsark


Dilemmaer - arbeidsark

Part 4: Conclusion

Time: approx. 10 min

Discuss with the group:

  • How would you sum up the discussion we have just had?
  • What is the most important point that you take away from the discussion?
  • How did you feel about discussing this topic?

In order to achieve the learning objective of having encouraged reflection and a mutual understanding of different perspectives, it is important to allow for any disagreement – or uncertainty – about what it means to be Norwegian, or what it should mean to be Norwegian, that may exist amongst the students after the exercise.

Part 5: Additional task (can also be done prior to the exercise)

Write a text in which you convey your thoughts on what it means to be Norwegian today.
Draw on your own experiences and the questions below:

  • Who is Norwegian – and who is not Norwegian?
  • Can someone become Norwegian?
  • In your eyes, is there a link between appearance and Norwegianness?
  • Is there a link between faith and world view and being Norwegian?


The discussion model was used as a data collection tool for the research project ‘Negotiating the nation: Implications of ethnic and religious diversity for national identity’, (2013-2017), funded by the Research Council of Norway (www.prio.org/nation). The plans consisted of writing exercisesdividual) and discussions (group) and involved almost 300 students from six upper secondary schools in different parts of Norway in autumn 2015. The findings are summarised in a four-page policy brief: ‘Norwegianness in the plural’, which can be downloaded here.