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Mrs. Harper, My English 30 Teacher, introduced me to Norwegian Playwright, Henrik Ibsen

An opinion editorial from Richard Dowson.
Drumheller High School

I had the good fortune of attending a small Alberta high school. The Teachers were excellent. My Grade Twelve English Teacher, and Homeroom Teacher, Mrs. Harper, was outstanding.

She encouraged students; was non-judgemental – and, in my case, didn’t care about my inability to spell. Mrs. Harper wanted to know our thoughts, ideas and stories.

Mrs. Harper was very proud of our new library –  our “Internet” of the day. She sent students there to research and write on original topics and assigned topics. 

In that small library, Mrs. Harper introduced me to Norwegian Playwright Henrik Ibsen. I was the ninth student to get an assignment that day. I was given the ‘I’ encyclopedia and told to find someone or something to write about. 

I found Ibsen. He died in 1906, long before my high school days, but his passion for social issues remains with me.

Henrik Ibsen is described as the “founder of modernism in theatre” but for me he was the Dude who questioned society and the status quo. The annoying, “Yes but why?” guy.

In 1879 he wrote the controversial ‘Feminism’ play, “A Doll’s House”. It tells of the lack of opportunity and lack of equal rights for women in male dominated Norwegian society.

What is Feminism?

Feminism is considered radical. Webster’s Dictionary defines Feminism as; “The theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes.” Ergo Gender Equality. That shouldn’t be radical!

How far has Canadian society come since 1879, when A Doll’s House was first presented?

Do we have ‘gender equality?’ Do we have gender equality in Saskatchewan?

Mrs. Harper wants to know!

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the position of this publication.  

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