First day of September this year Norway saw a new centre for children's food culture located in an old renaissance farm in the middle of Oslo. This is to be a national resource for helping schools and pre-schools to focus on good food and food culture.
In the Norwegian curriculum the subject home economics ("Food and health") is given throughout primary and lower secondary school. Many would say that this subject does not enjoy much credit of being a "serious" subject in competition with mathematics, language, science etc. There does not even exist school books in this subject for primary school pupils(!) and the subject has not enjoyed the benefits of having its own "national centre for education" to support schools and teachers the same way as many other school subjects (e.g. Norwegian Centre for Science Education).
Food writer Andreas Viestad thought that food was too important to be left behind in school and a few years ago he started a project to try rectifying this situation. The result is a renovated mid-1700's farm, Geitmyra, in the midst of our capital with its sole purpose of promoting food culture for children and young people. Our institute Food culture and health at Volda University College has been a close collaborator in development and quality assurance of the pedagogic material. The picture shows Andreas making food together with children at Geitmyra (photo: Mette Randem, courtesy of Geitmyra).
"Geitmyra matkultursenter for barn" (Geitmyra food culture centre for children) two main courses on its menu
- on-site teaching for school classes, kindergartens/nurseries, after-school activities and others
- a database with teaching material, experiments, subject content and recipes for teachers to use as resource in planning and carrying out their teaching (see below)
Yesterday's grand opening attracted considerable attention, featuring prominent guests such as Minister of Agriculture and Food Lars Peder Brekk, Minister of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs Lisbeth Berg-Hansen and head of Education Agency of Oslo Torger Ødegaard. However, the main guests were pre-school children entertaining with song and school children cooking the centre's first dishes from of organic home grown vegetables and fresh fish.
The web site
The Geitmyra educational web portal facilitates sought-after teaching material for Food and health-teachers, but also a number of cross-curricular topics such as food in history, science in food, learning mathematics through food and cooking, reading and writing in food context, growing organic food and composting, school garden etc. The educational portal is organised according to the national curriculum and is easy to navigate. At the opening day, we have together published a total of 21 experiments, articles and teaching sequences, and still more are to come. Thanks to generous funding from both official and private sources all the web resources are free, although in Norwegian.
I'll come back with a complete list of the material in near future, as well as detailed descriptions of some of the material and experiments. We expect this to be a living and ever-growing base of quality resources for teachers and others to benefit from.
I congratulate all the people at Geitmyra with a successful launch and hope we'll see that the new centre does indeed make a difference for children, teachers and others.
Geitmyra main web site: www.geitmyra.no
Geitmyra teaching portal: www.geitmyra.no/portal