Hygge Holidays!? Hygge in Schools? A reply...
I looked up Hygge (Hoo-geh) after reading Nancy Flanagan's blog post in EdWeek. Then after looking at multiple pictures of cozy couples wearing thick, patterned, woolen socks propped up in front of a fire, while sipping hot cocoa, I went upstairs to ask my wife if she'd heard about Hygge. She said, "of course, it's kinda like just being cozy," then I told her where I'd heard about it. Her response to Hygge in education was, "that's something I could get behind." She's a librarian, and the idea of voracious book reading whilst relaxing in comfy clothes and surroundings sounded like paradise to her. I can't say that it sounds too bad to me either.
It reminded me of my parents who were brought up in North Dakota, which is in the top 20 states for education, and how snowy and cold it is there. What else do farm kids have to do but stay warm inside with their school work when the winter weather lasts for at least half of the year? The last time I was in North Dakota in the winter, the temperature never went over 0°. When I walked by the elementary school, I noticed that no one could see anything but the massive piles of snow in front of the windows from the repeated street plowing. I asked my uncle, and they had not missed one day of school by that time. I live in the Charlottesville, VA area, and if we see a snowflake, the roads are deserted, the stores are bereft of milk and bread, and all the little kiddos are safe at home with their folks. It's nice--Hygge.
Nancy Flanagan wrote in her blog: "Perhaps Scandinavians are better able to appreciate the small, hygge things in life because they already have all the big ones nailed down: free university education, social security, universal health care, efficient infrastructure, paid family leave, and at least a month of vacation a year. With those necessities secured, according to Wiking, Danes are free to become "aware of the decoupling between wealth and well being."
While I do agree about all the social structures mentioned, I don't know that these translate directly into education as we know it here in the States, at least as far as Hygge goes. What I gather is that having a comfortable place where kids feel safe is the main way we can embrace the concept of Hygge. It would be beautiful to have a holiday miracle where all of a sudden those social structures that the Scandinavian countries enjoy, appear in our society; however, the reality is that miracles are rare. But, I've seen teachers, classrooms, and even whole schools that have embraced the idea of creating a home base for students--and it is in those places where there is play, learning, and interconnectedness. It may not necessarily look like a Scandinavian cabin, but there is coziness, and that makes all the difference.
Happy holidays, folks.