School made cool by ice hockey curriculum

A Swedish school, which is using the rough and tumble world of ice hockey to teach kids maths, geography and ethics, has announced remarkable results.

The Stortorget preschool in Arvidsjaur, northern Sweden, introduced the novel system of relating the curriculum to the country’s professional ice hockey league, the Elitserien, after noticing the children’s enthusiasm for the sport.

“The Elitserien has endless lessons to teach children about respect,” teacher Helén Renberg told The Local. “It all started after Christmas. We found that both boys and girls were really interested in hockey. They were asking about the results, which teams were playing, et cetera,” she said.

“The primary goal of our school is teaching respect. And hockey provides a number of ways to teach respect, from the way players shake hands with each other, to how they thank a referee after the game,” said Renberg. “We’ve got rules that encourage the kids to be positive and proud about the teams they support but refrain from saying bad things about other teams, no matter who wins.”

As well as encouraging good behaviour, the teachers also found ways to use the top teams to teach the children about maths, geography, shapes and colours. For example, after each big match, the children practice their adding by tallying up the scores on a replica league table on the classroom wall. They also learn about shapes and colours by studying the club emblems.

“We have a big map of Sweden with pins for where all the teams are based. When we talk about upcoming matches the kids ask about how far the teams need to travel and how they will get there. They start to see what a long country Sweden is,” Renberg told The Local.

Renberg says even parents have started to notice the difference in their children’s enthusiasm for learning, but that the project won’t necessarily be repeated next year. “It all depends on what the kids are interested in,” she said.