This week I started my second and last summer class, which is called Nordic Education and Parenting! After only four days of class, I’ve gotten a glimpse into Danish values and customs, and I’m fascinated by so many of them. One thing that changed my perspective is their approach to childhood safety. I experienced mega culture shock when my professor pulled up a picture of a kindergarten that had knives and saws within the children’s reach. Many Danes teach their children how to use real tools at a young age. My teacher explained that if you give a child a plastic “safety” knife that isn’t as sharp, they have to press really hard to cut a piece of fruit. So when they grow up and use real knives they’ll be used to pressing much harder and may hurt themselves. It was a tiny example that made me reevaluate the way I think about giving kids “child-friendly” devices! Another example is how Danes let kids climb trees super high since it helps them find their boundaries and limits, whereas American educators usually do not allow tree climbing at school because of the safety risks. I don’t think that any of these perspectives are right or wrong, just different! The fun part is getting to compare the two and see if there are any ideas I can take back with me to the US.
Since this was the first week of class and I had no major assignments to work on, I had a lot of free time to explore new places after class finished in the afternoon. Here is everything I did this week:
Monday: Natural History Museum
Tuesday: The Round Tower
Wednesday: Copenhagen Zoo
Thursday: Swimming at Island Brygge
Friday: Tried a new restaurant in my neighborhood
Saturday: Happiness Museum
Sunday: Christiansborg Palace
One tip that I learned from a friend is to “flag” places on Google Maps that you want to go to. It’s helpful because when I’m in an area I can open the app and see if I’m near any of the places so I don’t miss out on any of them. After I visit a place, I “heart” it so I can look through the list in the future and remember everything I did!
My favorite thing that I saw this week was The Happiness Museum. Denmark consistently ranks within the top five happiest countries every year, so this museum explored the reasons behind this with interactive exhibits. It was interesting to see how happiness is measured because it feels so subjective. There was one room where guests could write what happiness means to them on a sticky note, and there were objects placed to show how different things can represent happiness. For example, there was a pair of boots with a caption that said they traveled with their owner through different countries and helped support them in their happiest moments. The room showed how people can find happiness in the smallest of things, no matter where they live.
Another highlight of my week was going up to The Round Tower (Rundetårn). This is a 17th-century building that was built to be an astronomical observatory for the University of Copenhagen. I loved seeing the view of the city from the top because Copenhagen is beautiful and full of warm colors!
Next week I will be going on another study tour. This trip is for the class I’m currently in, so I will see more early childhood education centers. I am excited to learn more about Danish parenting throughout Denmark!