Nordnes School opened its doors for the first time on 17 August 1903. 1800 pupils in 52 classes started school that day. The school’s first headmaster, Rasmus Hille and his pupils filled the school both in the mornings and in the afternoons. A hundred years later some 250 pupils fight for room in the same school.
Nordnes School was built in a time when children were about to be taken seriously. They were no longer small adults, but exploring and physical little people. The school’s management was concerned with questions of children’s labour. Working children were commonplace and natural one hundred years ago. The school did not mind that children helped out at home, but was concerned that many were too tired to follow classes.
When as many as 1800 children were to attend Nordnes School, they could not all be there at the same time. Even though the school was well aware of the unfortunate effects, many children went to school in the afternoons. The headmaster and the teachers realized that this would lead to long days for the working children – among others the paperboys, and the children working in the ropeyards. A bill was passed in 1917, which prohibited teaching in the afternoons – a very welcome bill at Nordnes School. Still it was practically impossible to stop the afternoon teaching until 1921/22. Too many children belonged to the school, and there simply wasn’t enough room.
The number of school children gradually decreased, but after the Second World War there was another increase. In 1953, the post war children were all set to go to school. Around 1000 children crowded the school so much that afternoons were once again taken into use. In the 1960s people started to move away from Nordnes, which was a part of Bergen more densely populated than Hong Kong.
Very many people moved to the suburbs. The problem of finding room had been turned around. Where were all the children?
In the middle of the 1970s idyllic and picturesque Nordnes was rediscovered. Young people starting out moved in and renovated the old houses.
Approximately 250 children belong to the school today. Some 30 children have a disability, and they take up some of the space. The main entrance has got a new staircase, which has become a beautiful and welcoming entrance for both healthy and disabled children. This including entrance has become a pride to the school.
In what used to be the janitor’s house, a kindergarten keeps residence today. Now healthy and disabled children from ages one to thirteen spend their days on Nordnes School.
Physical punishment of children was widely debated around 1900. Teachers at Nordnes were not all ready to stop punishing the impossible children. The teacher council at the school did not, in 1906, think it advisable to stop physical punishment of children at the present time, even though banishing punishment should be an aim for the school.
This is an aim that the school has reached. No children are punished at Nordnes School today. Even so, a man reported recently that as a pupil at Nordnes School in the 1960s “I was beaten by my teacher. The teacher used different canes and sticks which he referred to as his ‘sports models.’ We got to choose which cane he should beat us with. He was pure evil, this teacher…”