1) Walking on ice is manageable when I wear studs on my boots and if I walk like a penguin.
2) The United States Ambassador to Finland spoke to us Fulbright teachers, scholars and students yesterday. One of his challenges to us was to to confront our comfort zone and fears every day.
To him, to myself and to you I say - Done! The past 3 weeks I did this every time I took three steps out of our apartment building and had to negotiate the gauntlet of ice -- right there. See first point and penguin stance.
3) Yeah, I'm not done with challenges and moving out my comfort zone - ever. And, you may be comforted to know that warm weather will be upon us next week and a deeper thaw may occur and the ice won't be a focal point of blog posts and discussions.
4) I am learning everyday. I'm learning incredible things from incredible people. These past two days I participated in the Fulbright Forum. I am humbled to be a part of this group of students, scholars and teachers. I have to say, I was profoundly impressed by the students - masters, doctoral and post-doc students from across the US who are here in Finland conducting diverse, relevant, world-changing research in the fields of geology, biology, criminal justice, health policy, gender studies in physics, nursing education, urban planning....These folks are changing the world. And the scholars! Researches in the field of history, economics, literature, electrical engineering, law, business, communication technology, agriculture...The content and format was rigorous, fast-paced, eye-opening, inspirational, and joyful.
5) I can make no conclusions or sweeping generalizations about Finland, Finnish education, Finnish people, Finnish food, Finnish dogs...(although, I have strong opinions about Finnish ice. And, I can say this - Finnish dogs are cuuuuute. Everyday we see over a dozen being walked by their humans and several of those doggies are wearing doggie coats. It's pretty much one of the best things ever.)
These days, I'm thinking of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's TED Talk "The Danger of a Single Story." If you haven't seen this, show yourself a little love and watch it now or very soon. This idea - "that if we hear only a single story about another person or country, we risk a critical misunderstanding" - kind of haunts me. It's a challenge that I've decided to confront with inquiry and a reminder to myself and to any audience (on this blog, in a café, on the phone, through an email) that what I'm gleaning here is not representative of everything Finnish. I need to continue to question and investigate and refashion my assumptions and entry points to a place I can call "More to the Story."
6) Next post will include a tour of a sweet primary school we visited on Wednesday.
7) Finally, it was surreal on Monday to think of my students, NM students, and students across the United States beginning PARCC testing (who needs March Madness when we can have PARCC Madness...) and to know that my child was here in Finland, at school, snowboarding. I'm following the PARCC debates and protests from so far away. Honestly, I'm so grateful that I'm not there to face this. Standardized testing like this is mind-numbing and blood-boiling for this teacher because we are not part of any of the process except for supervising students when they test. I have such little control and agency to affect how the kids perform on these tests because critical contributing factors are beyond my control - the child's educational history, the validity of the test questions, the person who got the job of scoring the tests by responding to a Craig's List ad, the kids' buy-in, parents' buy-in, your buy-in, the Governor buying this 'experience' and 'product' from Pearson Education for millions of dollars, the weather, the internet connection, sleep or no sleep by students and scorers, the misalignment of planets and the occasional solar eclipse. I'm hoping this nonsense will all be resolved when I get home in June (unfortunately, I'm 100% sure this won't happen, but a girl can dream. And I do have a dream that one day American students can learn and American teachers can teach without the shadow of a singular high-stakes test at the age of 8, throughout middle school, and as the difference between receiving a diploma or a certificate of completion.) I'm 100% sure we can do better by our children.
You can read my capstone project - Global Learning: Fostering knowledge, attitudes and skills for global citizenship - here
This blog represents my point of view only and is not associated with the U.S. State Department or the Fulbright Program.