Chapter 12 Nation, Nature and Industry

Civic Ideals and National Consciousness in Nordahl Rolfsen’s Lesebok for folkeskolen

In: Exploring Textbooks and Cultural Change in Nordic Education 1536–2020

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The turn of the twentieth century was a time of cultural, political and social upheaval in the newly independent Norwegian nation. This chapter considers the popular textbook Lesebok for folkeskolen (1892–1895) as a medium of cultural transmission, exploring how civic ideals and national consciousness were presented to children as part of their elementary education. Though the author Nordahl Rolfsen had nation-building and unifying ambitions for his publication, the distribution of imagery and civic values across rural and urban patterns shows that geographical and political divides grew increasingly visible in later editions of the book. Furthermore, the national content of the readers was shaped equally by Rolfsen’s pedagogical ideas as by nationalist concerns.


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