What is Suttung?
What is the work in a group of children like?
What are the benefits of the children?

  What "Suttung" is

"Suttung" is the name of the pedagogic work of the Norwegian author Ingeborg Refling Hagen. Her form of work is remarkable both because of the contents and the pedagogic technique.

The word "Suttung" comes from the old, norse mythology. "Suttungs mjød" was the name of a drink which turned people into poets or wise men.

"Suttung"-work is all about cultural traditions. The basis is the teaching of Norwegian, European and worldwide cultural heritage. But the selection follows the principle that only the best is good enough.

The "Suttung" pedagogic's special attitude is that children have the right of meeting the great litterature, the great art. The meeting usually happens through reading aloud, and let the children learn by heart. Song is also important.

  An evening at Suttung

The form of the work of a particular children's group depends on the leader.

There is, however, a certain traditional pattern. Usually, the group starts with singing songs by Henrik Wergeland (1808-1845), or Ingeborg Refling Hagen (1895-1989), with movements made by Beate Kraggerud.

The singing may last for 30-50 minutes, then every child may practise reading aloud "their" poem, the poems they are learning at the moment. Since doing this in a large group may be unpractical, the group may split, or the old children may be given the task of "hearing" the younger ones. If there are many small children in the group, fairytales are told, if the group is quite "old", a theatre piece may be prepared. In age-mixed group, work usually is more difficult, unless the old are very responsible.

So simple is the daily routine. Many people get impressed by children reading long poems they know by heart, but there lies no wizardry behind, only concentration, patience and the art of giving children's plays a serious core.


  Results of "Suttung"-work

The work of "Suttung" is never aimed at measurabel results like marks, tests or "benchmarks".

A "goal" is usually the Christmas- or summer- performance, where everybody takes part. Here, communication is focused upon, the ability to express a message to a listening audience. The clear aim of the suttungleader is, however, to make the children feel that what they do is important. Each should feel that s/he has a special task.

Even though the principal aim of the "Suttung" work never has been to give the children good results at school, they may aquire skills of consentration and thinking, which may later help them during studies. They have experienced talking to groups, and facing an audience. And they have received, almost without noticing, a knowledge of Norwegian litterature and norse mythology, which may also be useful during studies.

But the real aim of the "Suttung" work, is to allow the children to develop as human beings. The idea behind, is that meeting great art teaches the children about their inner life, as well as it stimulates them to express themselves.


The Ingeborg Refling Hagen museum

Suttung.no, the home page