Norwegian teachers less brainy than before: study

Norwegian teachers are 10 percent “less intelligent” than they were 10 years ago according to a study by professors at the Norwegian School of Economics in Bergen, or NHH.

Low pay is blamed for a brain drain which contributed to lower scores on a recent IQ test which teachers of a decade ago were also asked to brave. A general study of 25,000 young men entering new professions showed the golden age for teaching in Norway was the 1950s, when the best and brightest thought the profession worth the headaches.

 “It has steadily gone downwards with measured IQ for male teachers,” NHH’s professor Kjell Gunnar Salvanes told TV2 news. The Local could not reach Salvanes or the report’s two other professorial co-authors.

Teachers in Norway have long been derided for “easy degrees” that translate into early childhood education diplomas in other western countries. Low Europe-wide test scores for Norwegian school children and erratic working days have also brought scorn from parents.

Salvanes surveyed only Norwegian males born between 1950 and 1980 and linked their IQ test scores to choice of profession at the age of 18. On a scale of one to nine, those saying they would become teachers fared one point better in 1950 than those in 1980.

“Teachers scored relatively higher compared to the rest of the population, but scoring so much less than earlier (in the century) is dramatic,” according to Salvanes. He and his colleagues found that as many as 30 percent of teachers leave the profession for better prospects elsewhere.

Although a modest-for-Norway salary was attributed for the flight from teaching, teachers The Local spoke to said pay was secondary to a long list of other grievances that included having to parrot buzzwords conveyed from the Education Ministry; a painful powerlessness to discipline unruly students and the general stress caused by mixing an untidy planning schedule with classroom conditions.

In general, ex-teachers said they lamented the loss of their famously long summer vacations but not the unrelenting stress of a teaching day short on teaching.  

The labour economics expert Salvanes did not respond to our calls, and his colleagues could not be reached to answer the following questions: Why were just men studied? Did the IQ tests change?

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