Norwegianness in the plural


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

  • TIME:

    90 mins


    Post-its, pens, piece of string, colour printout of “Dimensions” cut into pieces and sorted into piles according to colour.


Part 1: Are you Norwegian?

Duration: approx. 30 mins

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 of seven 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?

Part 2: Dimensions of Norwegianness

Duration: approx. 30 mins

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.)

Distribute cards with “Dimensions of Norwegianness” (sorted into piles by colour). 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.

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 colour 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.

Part 3: Reactions – Living together

Duration: approx. 30 mins
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.

Part 4: Conclusion

Duration: approx. 10 mins
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 ( The plans consisted of writing exercises (individual) 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.