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The Saers case and the teacher’s fall – VG

NEW BOOK: Teacher Clemens Saers was brutally attacked by a student, and injured for life. The attack caused him both physical and psychological damage. Now he has written a book about his 50 years as a teacher in a Norwegian school. Photo: Frode Hansen / VG

The book “Lærer på liv og død” is both Clemens Saer’s story about his life, and a story about the fall of the Norwegian teacher over the past 50 years.

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This is a chronicle. The chronicle expresses the writer’s attitude. You can submit chronicles and debate entries to VG here.

SIMON MALKENES, author and former lecturer at Oslo School

Photo: Vidar Ruud / NTB scanpix

The first part of the book tells about Saer’s upbringing. It has something Lindgren about it. Saers grows up in a group of 14 siblings, the family moves from the Netherlands to Sweden.

The narrator’s voice is like the opening scene in “Emil in Lønneberget”, where Astrid Lindgren understandingly and lovingly introduces the little boy in Småland and his creative and charming “hyss”.

But the book also has a darkness, an unstable father that characterizes family life. And there is a light, a hope, in the Catholic faith in the family.

Getting to know Clemens Saers is important in order to understand the qualities he has, those which later make it possible for him to “stand in” the extreme situation that will characterize his last years as a teacher in the Norwegian school.

Even though the book is a crushing critique of a dysfunctional school system, another story emerges, about the teacher as a human being.

The professional pride, punctuality and diligence – which Saers insists on has its roots in the light and hope of childhood and it has been translated into being a teacher, the adult who will educate the children and all that entails.

It is this fragile aspect of teaching that comes under attack from an increasingly comprehensive control system, and which the book describes through Saers’ 50 years in Norwegian schools.

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This more underlying narrative fascinates me. The upheavals that take place in Norwegian schools during Saer’s professional life are aimed at the teacher’s inner self, at the care and empathy that underlies the teacher’s meeting with the children, and the desire to manage this relationship.

At the same time, I recognize how Saers, as a child, had to learn to deal with unpredictability by creating a hard shell against the outside world, and that at the same time one develops abilities to interpret and understand unpredictability, abilities which in extreme situations become super abilities, which make it possible to master extreme pressure.

These are other qualities and other feelings that are drawn from other places in the human depths, and which prove to be vital for Saer’s ability to survive, also as a teacher.

In the book, dark clouds gradually gather over the childhood in Lindgren, the mood changes, the rooms become narrower, the ceiling lower and the shadows longer when Saers becomes a teacher in Oslo around the turn of the millennium.

Where the author Franz Kafka used legal language and the judiciary as the landscape of alienation in his fictions, the Saers case is very real.

The book goes very thoroughly and carefully through the entire huge case complex that surrounds the Saers case. It is written as a historical development of the Norwegian school.

“GROTESQUE” CASE: – The Saers case is not just about Saers, it is about the legal protection of all teachers, VG commentator Shazia Majid wrote last year. Photo: Frode Hansen / VG

It is as if we have both gone up our paths through an Oslo school that increasingly moved away from its most important staff, the teacher. I well recognize descriptions of “strange behavior” from the school management from my early years as an employee of Oslo School.

The details in the book are shocking, such as that someone in schools had a shadow archive with secret personnel files about teachers who someone higher up in the system thought were problematic.

Time metal fraud is another topic, I myself was a trustee when this Enron-like creative bookkeeping spread in Oslo School.

The cheating had no consequences for those who carried it out, rather they moved up in the system. The emergence of the systemic forces Saers will have to face after the attempted murder in 2014 describes a culture in Norway’s largest agency that I have also experienced firsthand.

The depiction of the case itself and the court process is based, among other things, on audio recordings made by Saers himself. There are many details here, some of them are unbelievable.

What fascinates me is Saer’s personal qualities in the face of the Kafkaesque bureaucratic machinery he is faced with. The belief that justice will prevail is just as great every time, and yes, it is possible to read in both childish faith and a Dutch spirit as decisive for the “salamanders” not being able to break the little man.

It brings to mind Kafka’s parable “Before the Law”, where the man sat and waited all his life. Before he was about to die, he asked the guard, why is there no one else who wants to enter? This door was only for you, replied the guard, now I will go and close it.

Neither the story the book tells, nor the case that Saers documents, has been solved or settled. I believe that the only way such a Gordian knot can be untied is with a sword.

Therefore, the injustice done to Saers is a symbol of the injustice done to the Norwegian teacher, and also a story about the fall of the Norwegian teacher.

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Society cannot let the Saers case die!

Last week, VG’s commentator Shazia Majid searched for Oslo municipality’s backbone in the Clemens Saers case, the teacher who became ugly…

For those who still fight, strike and fight for the teacher’s role in society, they can also turn to the passage where a young Saers is a newly employed teacher in Aurland in Sogn.

He goes to the shop, the village’s meeting point, on a Saturday to buy food. As soon as he entered the room, it became completely quiet, the villagers withdrew, Saers slipped up to the counter.

When Saers comes out, he asks a colleague, what happened inside the shop, are people in the village afraid of the new teacher? No, replied the colleagues. The villagers did it out of respect for the teacher, because he was a respected person in the local community.

At the end of his teaching career, nearly 50 years later, Saers, after nearly being killed by a student, is reprimanded by the janitor for leaning against a table.

It is also the story of the Norwegian teacher.

The article is in Norwegian

Tags: Saers case teachers fall

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