Introduction    Month to month throughout 2001/02    Summary


 We started the project in a rather special way – with a bike trip along Rallarvegen (see small grey map below)! Rallarvegen is the name of a bike track along the tallest parts of one of our most spectacular railroads, the one from Bergen to Oslo. Bjørg Solveig had planned this trip with the pupils for social reasons, but also as a part of science – biology, geology and history. The route fitted perfectly in with the Comenius project, so we decided there and then to plan with that in mind. 

Norway’s nature, with steep mountains, a cold climate and long winters has made railroad building a difficult task. Most of our railways were built from 1850 to 1920, and it was tough work, much of it by hand. The mountain itself consisted of different geological layers and this made tunnel building hard and dangerous. Myths were soon spun around the skilled and brave men – called rallare - who worked under such special conditions. They were bachelors mostly, and free and daring persons not to be bossed by anyone. And the girls who left their homes and a secure life to cook for them were looked upon as a mixture of whores and madonnas- depending on the eyes viewing them!

 One of the steepest and most complicated railroads to construct was the line over the mountain from Oslo to Bergen, started in 1894 and finished in 1909. This stretch has 200 tunnels, and the workers spent 14  years on the line from Voss to Gulsvik, which is the worst part (see map on next page – this covers the brown and white part on the line from Bergen to Oslo - with heights from 800 to 1500 meters above sea level).


Today railroad authorities and the Norwegian State have made a museum and a biking track along the railway. It’s a fabulous experience and it really makes you admire the working people who managed to carry out a railroad construction here – mostly by help of dynamite and sledge-hammeres. And you are not surprised at all by the myths that grew up around them – how strong they were, how they coped with all kinds of weather, how they ignored illnesses and handicaps caused by falling rocks and dynamite accidents, how they were miraculously rescued or warned at the last moment before an avalanche, etc.


There are hundreds of stories and ballads about this part of Norwegian industrial history, and we decided that rallaren  (originally a Swedish word, meaning roller – probably because these workers never settled but moved on with the railroad construction) deserved the status as a mythical creature.


The grey map on the next page shows the biking track from Finse to Myrdal (see if you can find the names) where our trip went. The drawing shows the rallar with his main tool on his shoulder (a special kind of  sledgehammer) and his typical hat.


On the following pages you will find a presentation of the other mythical creatures we’ve been working with, followed by a project description of this year’s Comenius work.  









Biketrip. Back home the pupils prepared an exhibition – making drawings, compositions, statistics, geographical and natural science papers – and also a “stage decoration” to frame the exhibition.



Regional exhibition in Sarpsborg of school projects from municipalities in Østfold on a regienal school leaders’ meeting. Last year’s dance-project, with videos and pictures from our Comenius-partners and ourselves plus the above mentioned work presented by pupils from our school, receiving lots of positive reactions.



Sami project. The Sami people has their indigenous culture very much in tact, and their mythical creatures differ a bit from the ones in the rest of Norway. To learn about their culture and history and their struggle to find their place and be accepted on their own conditions in the Norwegian society, seemed important also in a Comenius connection.



Comenius-meeting in Scotland (Ragnhild, Nina, Ine). A new wonderful meeting and consolidation of friendship and understanding between our countries. (See special report)


The “real” Comenius- work of this year started. We worked with this for three weeks – recapitulating our knowledge and experiences about and with the other countries and deciding how to present our mythical creatures. The pupils chose to make a calendar, web-pages, films, written presentations, fairytales, drawings, models and a drama-presentation. The result was presented to parents and invited local guests on the evening of February 13th  - a big sucsess! On this evening we also presented what had been done so far in the project, showed the videos, gifts from our partners and a LOT of pictures! There were maps and fact lists all over the place, and the interest was immense.



Videotaping of the drama performance, copying of calendars, collecting of odds and ends to bring to Finland. Deciding which teachers and which pupils to send.

 Teachers:         Bjørg Solveig Ingum  /  Ulf Olsen

 Pupils:              Robert Kaino   /   Mats Vegard  Andresen   /     Mads Aasvik



Meeting in Pori,Finland 23d – 26th. Celebration of the Pori school’s anniversary.



We feel that the pupils are interested in and feel more involved in the project this year than last year. Still, we are not satisfied with the communication between pupils. The teachers function as some sort of “transmitters”, and the chat channels we hoped to

establish have turned out a more complicated affair than we first thought. This has to do both with technology and time, but at last it seems to start working. However, we are certain that the main intentions of the project – to include pupils with special needs and establish mutual understanding of culture between the countries – is well on its way, and this aim seems more essential than ever in a war- and terror-ridden world. We are also happy that our pupils make this experience during their compulsory education and at an age where such influence has an impact of great importance to them as human beings.


Inger Thinn


April 2002   back up