Kristin Vinje, former head of finance for the City of Oslo and now a Member of Parliament (MP) for the Conservative Party, decided not to simply head off on summer holiday when Norway’s national assembly recessed until the fall. Instead, she headed into a summer school classroom, to share her mathematics skills with students motivated enough to sacrifice some of their summer holidays as well.
“We have long periods with no meetings at the parliament,” Vinje told newspaper Aftenposten on Friday. “So the thought occurred to me: I have to use that free time for something.”
She landed on the opportunity to brush up her teaching skills and take over a classroom full of students who want to be better at math. Vinje, age 51, studied science and worked as a substitute teacher at Marienlyst and Ris schools in Oslo while attending university. “I considered becoming a teacher, but that was before I got interested in doing research,” Vinje said. She ended up getting a doctorate in chemistry.
She also ended up going into politics and now works mostly with that, at the highest levels in Norway. She remains keen on promoting education and the schools, however, and sits on the parliamentary committee responsible for education, research and churches.
“I think it’s fun to be doing this,” she told Aftenposten as she led her class and emphasized practical applications of mathematics and why math is important. She showed how math can be used when comparing job offers, for example, and whether it’s better to have a fixed salary or work on commission. She also took her students on a field trip to a major information technology company, and explained the math behind how putting a bank card in a minibank (automated teller machine) results in cash. She’s also taking her students to the Parliament itself.
A record 15,000 students in Oslo have enrolled in summer school this year, a new record in a country where summer school was virtually unheard of just a few decades ago. Kirsten Riise, principal for the summer school program at Nydalen High School, said Vinje is the first MP to work as a summer school teacher, “and it’s exciting for the students.”