Norway and the Olympics

Norway has dominated the winter Olympics.  Yet, the story behind how their athletes got there is fascinating.  Is it rooted in childhood?  You bet!

A recent article by Reuters, “Fun and Friendship Fuel Norway’s Gold Rush” hits the nail on the head.  Tore Oevreboe and the Norwegians measure success in different terms.

“The main objective for us is to make the athletes have fun all the way through the Games,” he said as Norway won the men’s cross-country team sprint for a 13th gold at the 2022 Winter Games, one medal shy of the record jointly held with Canada and Germany.

The Norwegians put their winter sports success in recent years down to a three-pronged approach.

“One of them is to have a very high quality of daily training, which is the main thing to do to achieve development over time, and we are also very specific in the work with the competitions, preparations and execution,” he told Reuters.

“But there is a third area that we are very, very eager at working with – it’s to establish and develop good and safe relationships between the athletes themselves and also between the athletes and their coaches and the staff around.”

“We are very occupied with creating a good environment, a stable environment, a safe environment, an environment full of fun, so they can really enjoy life when they are doing sport at a high level,” Oevreboe added.

Creating those conditions for success begins long before Olympic champions get to the elite level.

Here is the really important part:

“This is part of the Norwegian sports model, all the way from the start from childhood – it should be physical activity based on fun, many types of activities, variety, different sports,” the 56-year-old former Olympic rower said.

“Lots of small competitions, but we do not track the results of the athletes.”

Stay with me on this, because all fun and no competition is NOT the answer.  In the 80’s and 90’s where kids were forced into games at school where everybody wins, was a disaster.  Competition is natural.

Oevreboe prefers an approach whereby youngsters can try as many sports as possible before specializing at a later age, rather than hand-picking talented children for specific events.

He believes the aim should be not just producing great champions but also good Norwegians at every level of society.

“Many of the kids have good opportunities to realize their potential in a variety of fields, and sport is one of them … and then they will develop their potential as humans and citizens,” he said.

Clearly, Norwegians encourage sports.  They let the child find his/her way.  They develop a bond among athletes.  No wonder they dominate the Olympics.

As a teacher, I do the same thing.  When a child is learning how to put on shoes, I cheer them on, step by step.  I don’t do it for them.  When a child is learning how to pump a swing, I shout out what to do with their legs, “Tuck them in, kick them out!”  Other children are there, they see it all.  It creates an athletic bond with peers.

I have to say, my thoughts immediately go to Finland.  They have the same attitude and philosophy as Norway when it comes to school.  I could go on!  They’re among the top countries in education.

Jennie

About Jennie

I have been teaching preschool for over thirty years. This is my passion. I believe that children have a voice, and that is the catalyst to enhance or even change the learning experience. Emergent curriculum opens young minds. It's the little things that happen in the classroom that are most important and exciting. That's what I write about. I am highlighted in the the new edition of Jim Trelease's bestselling book, "The Read-Aloud Handbook" because of my reading to children. My class has designed quilts that hang as permanent displays at both the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, and the Fisher House at the Boston VA Hospital.
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47 Responses to Norway and the Olympics

  1. srbottch says:

    Encourage and Teach! Teach and Encourage! (Or something like that) Great recipe for success.

  2. Ritu says:

    This encouragement and independence is what leads to stronger adults!

  3. petespringerauthor says:

    Great example! The same applies to parents who always want to bail their kids out at the first hint of failure. Resiliency and perseverance are essential skills, and children feel prouder when they overcome a challenge by themselves.

  4. beetleypete says:

    As well as that ‘good attitude’ and educational progress, countries like Norway and Finland have another advantage in Winter Sports. Lots of snow and ice every winter. 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.

  5. It sounds as though Norway has a very healthy attitude towards sports

  6. Attitude within the culture. Yep – and it doesn’t seem like us. Yes, it could be – but we would have to change a lot – a lot, a lot, a lot. Thanks, Jennie!

  7. quiall says:

    This isn’t a new idea but on the world stage people can now see how it works. I wonder if they’ll pay attention? Teachers have always known…

  8. Thats it! Thanks for sharing the information, Jennie! xx Michael

  9. I am not surprised, the Scandinavian countries have a very progressive approach to life.

  10. CarolCooks2 says:

    A great recipe for success but it makes me wonder when other countries see the results but don’t follow suit…Why not? says she shaking her head…

  11. Elizabeth says:

    I especially love that Finland doesn’t push its kids to read early. There is much that those frozen countries can teach us!

  12. Jim Borden says:

    what a great example of how to do things the right way. the U.S. could learn a lot from studying the Scandinavians…

  13. bosssybabe says:

    My husband and I travelled to Norway when I was pregnant with Charlotte. We did a lot of sightseeing and hiking and it was one of the best vacations we’ve ever had/places we’ve ever travelled to. I learned a lot while in Norway.. the Norwegians are very active people and place a lot of importance in staying active and being in the outdoors. They take sports seriously (in that they make time in the week to engage in different sporting activities) and encourage it as part of the children’s daily routine… it also promotes comradery between peers! Win -Win!

  14. Pingback: Monday Musings …28th February 2022… | Retired? No one told me!

  15. beth says:

    I love this approach!

  16. This is a great post, Jennie. I like this approach to sport, school and life.

  17. A wonderful approach to education and to life in general and it is a great pity it is not adopted in other countries.. with an estimated 2 million 16 year old boys and girls being functionally illiterate when leaving school in the UK.. something is not working… thanks Jennie.. xx

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