My pedagogical history


My pedagogical journey

In evolutionary economic geography, the path dependency approach (Arthur, 1989; David, 1985; Martin and Sunley, 2006) refers to mechanisms that anchor existing firm and industry choices and culture to historically related incidents and decisions. In short, the path dependency approach highlights that the development of firms and industries tends to follow certain trajectories that form from increasing returns from decreasing transaction costs. Thus, firms and industries tend to discriminate amongst certain decisions systematically because some alternatives become more cost-effective than others. Exemplifying path dependency, a firm continues using existing technologies instead of regularly implementing new technologies. This is because keeping existing technology causes less friction than implementing new technology.

Moving away from economic geography and into the lives of humans, the path dependency concept still resonates; that is, we, as humans, tend to activate the same mechanism. Our cultural upbringing, our future experience and historically made choices influence how we see the world and what can be known about the world. Finally, when referring to activities like teaching and learning, the 'luggage' of earlier experiences influences our understanding of knowledge and truth, teaching and ways of learning.

I began teaching early in life. At the age of 16, I was employed as an organ instructor part-time after high school. I taught small classes of students of all ages to play the organ and continued to do so for 3-4 years. As an instructor, I listened to students play, corrected their mistakes and demonstrated the correct methods by playing the pieces myself. During this time, I was also a youth leader in my local church. As a result, I put much effort into being a good role model by doing the 'right' thing and by preaching what was commonly accepted and considered to be good practice within what was my religious clique at that time.

After high school, I enrolled at the local teachers' college to become a school teacher. I was professionally trained for one year before I realised that teaching young children as a career did not appeal to me. Instead, I entered into university studies and took several courses, including a half-year pedagogical seminar. As a result, I qualified to be a high school teacher in economics and administration. An essential part of the seminar was practical teacher training in local high schools, and I garnered some good advice on how to give personal feedback to the students. 

Despite my formal education in pedagogics, I never worked as a teacher. However, teaching has continued to be an essential part of what I have done in various positions. I started as an entrepreneur by launching a new music project in schools and kindergartens in Norway. We grew the firm internationally and offered the project to children in several European countries. Of course, promoting and selling the project to schools and kindergartens was important, and, as the head of the firm, I gave sales courses to employees several times a year. As the firm grew internationally, I continued to provide classes for many employees in several countries. As an instructor, I provided scripts that told sales personnel what to say and how to approach potential customers by phone and in real-time meetings. My training philosophy was to teach by example and train employees by involving myself in roleplays where we acted as customers and salespersons.

Moving on from being an entrepreneur, I continued teaching and mentoring as an advisor and regional CEO of Junior Achievement Young Enterprise. There, I facilitated various workshops, boot camps and entrepreneurship competitions for children and youths between the ages of 10 and 25 years. I taught in public schools and colleges, giving lectures and facilitating creative processes. As a lecturer, I emphasised energy and humour, and I gave talks and speeches to small groups of students and vast audiences of 1500 or more students and teachers. At that time, I received acknowledgement for my successful work. The first acknowledgement was an award for being an energic and enthusiastic speaker and a good role model for young entrepreneurs in schools and universities. The second acknowledgement was a national prize awarded to the municipality for offering an excellent entrepreneurship training program. I was the initiator and project leader of that project and, thus, received positive acknowledgement.

Finally, I entered academia at the age of 50. As part of my PhD, I gave bachelor and master's students several guest lectures. As part of my position as a postdoc and researcher, my teaching has continued in the form of lectures in innovation theory at the master's level. As a lecturer, I have emphasised activating personal qualities like enthusiasm and humour. As a teacher, I am very aware of how I use my voice and body language.

Returning to the path dependency approach introduced at the very beginning of this reflection, I have, for several years, followed the same course in teaching. However, the path dependency approach highlights that existing trajectories can be modified and that new trajectories can form (Grillitsch & Asheim, 2019; Isaksen & Trippl, 2016). After attending the Uniped course at the University of Agder in the autumn of 2021, I found that it was time to brush up on my teaching skills and start researching my own teaching. Even if I get great student feedback, I feel the need to think more thoroughly through my choices and alternative pedagogical alternatives to improve future teaching.

From here, you can read the continuation of my journey as a teacher elsewhere on this web page.