One of the earliest contacts in Denmark was Troels Johansen of Herning Seminarium through a Jordanhill conference in the late 70s. Because of that connection a number of visits and exchanges followed involving students, teachers and politicians. At this time Storyline was not a particular focus of study but rather a general pedagogical interest in the differing school systems.
In 1983 when the LEGO company in Billund set up its new Educational Products Department (now called LEGO Dacta) I was invited to act as a consultant to help design the proposed new topic sets for schools. LEGO was well known for its retail construction sets, each with a set of bricks that could build a required model. Now it was proposing to provide topic sets to help children in schools build a variety of environments to be used for educational purposes. The first set, aimed at 5 to 7 year olds, contained teaching material mainly written by me based on Storyline experience. This collaboration continued for some years and in 1986 LEGO made a prize-winning video of a Storyline Topic in action in Gordon Primary School featuring Barbara Frame, the headteacher. Gordon is a small village near Kelso in the Scottish Borders. Storyline tutors are still regularly using the video, called Space Abduction, so many years
Also in 1983 I made a presentation at the 8th International Conference of the Association for teacher Education in Europe (ATEE) held in Aalborg Seminarium. The paper, jointly written with Fred Rendell was entitled “The importance of Methodology in relation to Inservice Education”)
In 1987, Kirsten Meldgaard, an Assistant Director of Education in Farum, Copenhagen, attended one of the Storyline workshops being given in Pinneberg, Schleswig-Holstein. Her experience as a participant on this course encouraged her to introduce it to Denmark. So, the first Storyline course in Denmark was run in Mogenstrup Kro, Naestved, in 1988 and had Skole Start as a focus. An outcome from this was the publication in 1990 of the Felix series of books.
The second course in Ry Hotel had Finn Mosegaard of Skive Amtscentret as a participant and he quickly became very involved in adapting the approach to suit the needs of the teachers with whom he was working. Over the years he has designed and published many Danish topics. More recently he has become the international webmaster for the site of the European association for Educational Design, www.acskive.dk/storyline.
The first Danish publication describing the Storyline approach was produced in 1994. Entitled Storyline Metoden-Den Scotske Metode it was written by Cecilie Falkenberg, Eric Hålkonson, Nils Jaegerum, Sigrid Madsbjerg and Finn Mosegaard.
Ingelise Jørgensen and Anelise B Rasmussen, as advisers in Gladsaxe and friends of Kirsten quickly became involved in working with Storyline or Den Skotske Metode as it was called at that time. In 1995 they were instrumental in the production of a Storyline book entitled Storyline Pædagogikken. They have also more recently visited the American Storyline summer institutes held in Oregon and California.
Many foreign language teachers in Denmark began to see the possibilities of using an approach that creates a context and an audience and gives purpose to second language development. Jette Kock of Haderslev is one example and she and three colleagues have also been actively engaged in spreading the ideas of Storyline through their newsletter ‘Den Røde Tråd’. Anne-Marie Schæffer is another second language teacher who has worked hard to spread interest in the use of Storyline.
It would be difficult to list all the many educators who were instrumental in affecting the development of Storyline in Denmark but I should mention the importance of colleagues in the Danmarks Lærerhøjskole like Cecilie Falkenberg and Erik Håkonsson who have used their research skills to analyse critically the process involved in adapting and implementing Storyline for use in the Folkeskole.
Together with colleagues they were responsible for publishing the first Danish book on the approach, Storyline Metoden. Then in the Spring of 2000 Cecilie and Erik edited and produced a beautiful publication called Storylinebogen, published by Kroghs Forlag and with 15 authors. Each chapter is written with a purpose: for example to describe a typical Storyline in a classroom or to link Storyline with educational theories or to describe the use of Storyline
with Maths etc.
Cecilie and Sigrid Madsberg, an adviser in Bornholm, have also made two educational videos with teachers’ books – “Man Ska’ Ku’ Laese” and “Med Venlig Hilsen 3.@.” Other professors like Vagn Oluf Nielsen, Søren Breiting and Jens Jacobsen have been enthusiastic in their involvement as they bring their own critical awareness to explore this strategy.
Without doubt the biggest change in Denmark came with the introduction of the School Law in 1991 which laid down the main principles which should be followed by teachers in the Folkeskole. These include an emphasis on holistic teaching, co-operative learning, learner centredness, problem tackling, active learning and differentiation. All of these strategies are exemplified within the Storyline approach.
In 1998 Danmarks Laererhøjskole published a review of Storyline in the form of interviews with three teachers – Sven Lundberg, Jette Kock and Karen Aagaard Rüberg entitled Hvad Gør Vi Med Storyline-Metoden.
International conferences like ‘Catch the Future’ organised by Laila Vang Andersen and her colleagues for Hirtshals Kommune with 750 delegates from 19 countries have had quite an influence. Many, many study tours, organised annually by colleagues like Finn Mosegaard, Karen Margrethe Sørensen and Laila Vang Andersen have been made to Scotland.
Denmark is now, arguably, the ‘Storyline Centre’ of Europe if we think of the numbers of teachers and tutors who are actively engaged in developing their own adaptations of Storyline. So it was an obvious venue for the First International Storyline Conference held there from 6th to 8th November 2000. This event attracted over 300 participants from 22 countries and proved to be a wonderful celebration of this philosophy.
A ‘Silver Circle’ group of Danish Storyline enthusiasts has been formed, meets annually and has recently been visited by a similar organisation from Schleswig-Holstein. A typical focus for such a conference was on how to develop a book-based Storyline which would enable students and teachers to undertake an in-depth study of a piece of literature with Sallie Harkness as the guest speaker.
Other courses on book-based Storylines have followed.
“The Red Thread” Newsletter (in Danish)