About Folk High Schools in general and The Folk High School North Norway in particular

Folk High Schools in brief

Folk high schools are one-year boarding schools offering a variety of exciting non-academic subjects, as well as academic subjects. The idea of folk high schools is learning for life, an opportunity to grow both individually, socially and academically in small learning communities. All students live on campus in close contact with their fellow students and the staff. One important part of the folk high school experience is to form a community, in and out of class.

The whole person

The folk high schools do not grant degrees or conduct exams. They are supplements to the regular education system, with the aim to nurture «the whole person», or to stimulate each student`s personal development. The main subject is: yourself. By taking away the pressure of grades and exams, you learn to motivate yourself. You choose the topics that interest you, for instance outdoor life activities, intercultural communication and experience, extreme sports, music etc. Our school is in fact the only folk high school in the world with a program for Indigenous Peoples issues.

Schools for all people

The term «folk high school» is a literal translation of the Norwegian word «folkehøgskole». However, this translation may give you the wrong idea. Folk high schools are not «high schools» in the sense of the upper secondary school institutions designed to prepare students for college or work through exams. Folk high schools are separate from the rest of Norway`s educational system. Studentens can be any age and can have any level of educational experience. Indeed, these schools are for all people, all «folk» – ethnic Norwegians, Indigenous Samies, people from all over the world. However, almost all students who attend folk high schools are young adults between the ages of 18 and 25, in our school between 18 and 23.

The Folk High School North Norway

stipper2This folk high school is one of the youngest in Norway. It was established through a signed agreement in Oct 2015, between the former owner, the United Methodist Chuch in Norway and the new owner, the YMCA/YWCA of Norway. In Norway these to international ecumenical giants (YMCA is the world`s largest youth organization and YWCA is the world`s largest womens organization), together form the largest Christian youth organization.

The new school has three major foci:

  1. Youth culture 
    Being present and open minded towards young people`s lives and cultural expressions in general is crucial for the relevance of the school. Every person has its own personal story to tell. Every story needs a listener. The main purpose of The Folk High School North Norway is to offer each story the space it needs to be told, reflected upon and challenged, so that the student`s identity can be strengthened. Diversity, dialogue and human dignity are all among the most important values. Classes and activities like music, creative subjects, physical activities are all important to reflect young peoples reality and interests.
  2. Indigenous Peoples perspectives and Sami Culture
    The Folk High School North Norway is located in the municipality of Skånland, which is a Sami Community of the North. The YMCA/YWCA in Norway welcomes and supports a development of the school where Sami culture and Indigenous perspectives are in the center of all activities and classes. Both in Norway and among the Indigenous Peoples of the earth elsewhere, there is a constant need for new arenas where young people can focus on culture and identity issues, tradition, history, assimilation, colonialization, and neo-colonialization, human rights, shame and reconciliation. A folk high school, with its unique pedagogical platform, has great potential to become such an arena and meeting place for young indigenous people from around the world.
  3. Global Justice and Peace
    The YMCA/YWCA of Norway is affiliated with the greater international networks – The World Alliances of YMCA and YWCA. This affiliation and the global involvement of the YMCA/YWCA will add value to the school. Faith and global involvement is closely linked together and our students will be challenged by different action alternatives as they seek and promote justice and peace.

School values

Based on these three foci the school itself has chosen to focus on three values –

Being present, open-minded and courageous.

The school acknowledges the Christian faith and values. Thus we also embrace and acknowledge the values of ethnic, cultural and religious diversity. We believe in – and practice – the methods of dialogue.

The school logo

We are particularly proud of our new logo. The logo tells a lot about who we are. The colours are the colours of the Arctic North. The lavvo, the Sami tent, tells us that we are in the homeland of Sami Indigenous People, and that we acknowledge and pay respect to that. The triangle in the bottom part, which we see as a reflection of the tent, is the logo of the YMCA, which symbolizes the whole person of mind, spirit and body.