Report No. 8 to the Storting (2007-2008)

A Cultural Rucksack for the Future

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3 Objectives and principles of the Cultural Rucksack

3.1 Objectives and principles

The Cultural Rucksack is a national effort in which the school and cultural sectors cooperate on a programme that enables school pupils to become acquainted with and develop an understanding of artistic and cultural expressions of a professional standard.

Today the term “Cultural Rucksack” is used to cover all activities that comply with the objectives of the Cultural Rucksack programme, whether or not they are financed by allocations from the surplus earned by Norsk Tipping, which is currently the main source of funding. An example of this is Rikskonsertene, which has existed ever since the late 1960s, and is mainly financed through the ordinary budget allocations to culture.

The Cultural Rucksack has the following objectives:

  • To enable schoolchildren to enjoy artistic and cultural productions provided by professionals.

  • To facilitate pupils’ access to a wide range of cultural expressions so that they can become acquainted with and develop an understanding of culture in all its forms.

  • To assist schools in integrating different forms of cultural expression with their own efforts to attain learning goals.

A few changes have been made in the wording of the objectives set out in the White Paper The Cultural Rucksack (Report No. 38 (2002–2003) to the Storting). One of the original objectives stated that pupils should gain “a positive attitude to the various forms of artistic and cultural expression”. Art does not always arouse positive feelings. One of its aims is to provoke and shock, and the new wording takes this into account. Another change is that since the upper secondary school is being included in the Cultural Rucksack, the words “primary and lower secondary school” are being replaced by “school”.

The Cultural Rucksack will be developed and continually evaluated on the basis of the following principles:

A permanent programme : the Cultural Rucksack should be a permanent programme for school pupils.

For all pupils : the Cultural Rucksack is intended for all pupils, regardless of their social, economic, ethnic or religious backgrounds or the particular school they attend.

Achievement of the goals of the national curriculum : the content of the Cultural Rucksack should be in line with the goals of the general part of the national curriculum and of the specific subject curriculums.

High quality : the artistic and cultural programme offered to the pupils should be of a high artistic quality and provided by professionals.

Diversity : the Cultural Rucksack should include forms of artistic and cultural expression from a diversity of cultures and historical periods.

A wide range : music, theatre, the visual arts, film, literature and the cultural heritage should all be represented in the Cultural Rucksack, and should be presented in a variety of forms.

Regular access : the pupils should have regular access to art and cultural activities in every school grade.

Cultural–school cooperation : the school and cultural sectors should cooperate closely on the Cultural Rucksack at every level. The schools should be involved in the programme and given time to plan for the various activities.

Division of roles between the school and cultural sectors : the school should be responsible for ensuring educationally sound preparation and follow-up of the cultural activities, and the cultural sector for the content of the production and for informing the school of the content in advance, to allow sufficient time for preparation.

Local responsibility and ownership : the individual school, the municipality and the county should all be involved in the Cultural Rucksack. This will ensure enthusiasm and a sense of ownership among all parties and provide room for local variation.

Figure 3.1 “Frie Fraspark” is a creative school project in which the pupils have dance lessons with professional dancers from the Panta Rei dance theatre and present a dance production to the rest of the school.

Figure 3.1 “Frie Fraspark”

Photo: Jeanette Landfald

3.2 Cooperation and division of work between the school and cultural sectors

The evaluation report on the Cultural Rucksack recommends that the two sectors should agree on the interpretation of the programme objectives. The report pointed out that the present objectives and principles can be interpreted in many different ways, and that this has meant that the lines along which the programme is organised are poorly understood at all levels. In its conclusion the report advises that the two sectors should decide whether the Cultural Rucksack is a cultural policy instrument that is being offered to the school or whether the school is to take part in the development of the programme, with the responsibilities and authority this implies.

The Ministry considers that it is fully possible for the school and cultural sectors to agree on the interpretation of the programme objectives and to establish a practical division of work.

The Cultural Rucksack is a major cultural and education policy instrument. The programme is based on close cooperation between two social sectors with different objectives, traditions and ways of thinking. The school sector operates within a well-defined administrative framework and according to politically determined curriculums that apply to everyone. The cultural sector has a looser, more informal structure, in which the various bodies have greater freedom to choose their own objectives.

The Ministry considers that the two sectors can supplement and inspire each other. The Cultural Rucksack is based on both cultural and education policy objectives. Thus the objectives and principles of the programme have to take account of, and be adapted to, the national curriculum set out in the Knowledge Promotion Reform.

However, there is a need to clarify the position of the Cultural Rucksack in relation to other school activities in the cultural field.

The purpose of the Cultural Rucksack is to offer pupils up to and including lower secondary school, and with time in upper secondary school as well, the opportunity to become acquainted with all forms of artistic and cultural expression of a professional standard. Quality and professionalism are fundamental criteria. The cultural sector is responsible for the activities offered under the programme.

The Cultural Rucksack is part of the school’s work with art and culture, but is not intended to cover all cultural activities offered by the school. Thus it is not meant to serve as a replacement for aesthetic or other school subjects, but as a supplement. The artists and cultural workers in the programme may not replace the teachers, they must function in a purely artistic capacity. Visits to the school by artists and cultural workers, and visits to cultural institutions by the school, strengthen the school’s expertise in cultural matters. They also provide an opportunity for the school to use art and culture in new ways. Increasing the school’s cultural expertise requires close cooperation between the school and cultural sectors.

Although the Cultural Rucksack must take account of the school curriculum, it is meant to provide experiences that are special or out of the ordinary, and not part of the ordinary school day. At the same time it is important that pupils feel that the programme activities are a natural part of their education, and that they are able to perceive that the content is related to the curriculum and the subjects they are being taught. The school and the teachers have a responsibility to ensure that the school curriculum takes account of the activities offered by the Cultural Rucksack.

Textbox 3.1 “Transparent realism”

“Transparent realism” is an art project run by the artists’ centre Nordnorsk kunstnersenter. The pupils visit the workshop of the glass artist Kari Malmberg, where they learn how glass is made, discuss the works of art on display and practise engraving glass with the help of the artist. The school was invited to participate and the details were agreed beforehand. The artist finds working with the pupils inspiring, and the teacher accompanying the class realises how important it is for the children to meet artists and see how they work. The benefits to the pupils are knowledge, understanding and enjoyment.

A work of art can be interpreted in different ways, and it is not always possible to predict how the pupils will respond to it or what they will learn from it. Becoming acquainted with art and culture at this level stimulates their general development. In the further development of the programme, both sectors should be aware that direct experience of art and culture will be an important supplement to ordinary teaching throughout the pupils’ school lives.

In its work on the programme the cultural sector must take account of the special nature of the school as an institution. The cultural sector has a responsibility to inform the school of the content of the activities being offered. For its part the school sector must give priority to the programme and make plans for the necessary schoolwork to be done prior to and following the activity in question. In this process cooperation between the school leadership and the teachers is extremely important if the objectives of the Cultural Rucksack are to be realised, and it is essential that the school should be enthusiastic about the programme and take active steps to implement it.

Figure 3.2 The large sculpture made by the pupils with the help of the sculptor Rolf Starup now stands in the school playground.

Figure 3.2 Sculpture project at Slidre school

Photo: Marit Brænd/Oppland County

3.3 Local and regional freedom of action

From the beginning a key principle of the Cultural Rucksack has been that the individual counties and municipalities should be free to develop their own cultural programmes, in line with local and regional conditions and without too much central government control. Thus in practice there is not just one Cultural Rucksack: there are 19 county rucksacks, 431 municipal rucksacks, a rucksack for Svalbard and many thousand individual school rucksacks. All of them employ different procedures and practices, and all have different experience of and ideas about the programme. The Ministry considers local engagement and freedom of action to be one of the most important features of the programme.

All the actors involved should be able to influence the content and implementation of the programme and thus feel that they have a stake in it. Cooperation across the school and cultural sectors ensures quality of content and presentation, knowledge transfer and competence-building. The administration of the programme is based on the assumption that the regional and municipal authorities, together and separately, are willing and able to adopt a coherent approach and take advantage of the resources available in cultural institutions in their region. It is also important to encourage independent groups and artists to develop their own productions, since these will contribute to the quality of the programme.

3.4 Availability of the Cultural Rucksack

It is an objective of Norwegian educational policy that all pupils should receive education appropriate to their aptitudes and abilities. In its evaluation NIFU STEP was asked to examine how the Cultural Rucksack was adapted to pupils with special needs or disabilities.

The evaluator found that apart from practical arrangements, there was little systematic thinking with regard to the programme’s suitability for these pupils. Some counties considered that this was a matter for the individual municipality and school, others that the responsibility lay with the education department at the county governor’s office.

It is a cultural policy objective that everyone should be given the opportunity to enjoy a diversity of art forms and cultural activities, and an overall policy objective that people with special needs and disabilities should have the same opportunity to participate in cultural life as other people, both as part of the general public and as active participants. For this objective to be achieved, all levels – county, municipal and school – must take account of the fact that pupils have different capacities and needs, and take appropriate steps when planning, designing, making decisions and implementing the programme.

In this connection the Ministry refers to section 1-2 of the Education Act, which states that the “teaching shall be adapted to the abilities and aptitudes of individual pupils, apprentices and trainees.” All school activities have to be based on differentiated teaching. Furthermore, section 9-1 of the Education Act states that all school pupils have the right to a favourable physical and psychosocial environment that promotes health, well-being and learning.

The responsibility for fulfilling these objectives lies with the individual school and the municipality or county that owns it. The municipality must safeguard the pupils’ right to primary and lower secondary education and special needs teaching. However, generally speaking all those involved in the Cultural Rucksack should examine how the programme can be adapted to these pupils, taking account of the fact that these pupils do not constitute a homogeneous group. Art and cultural activities can provide insight into many different forms of expression and thereby give these pupils the opportunity to learn new ways of coping.

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