One of the gifts of this Fulbright experience has been the time and space to think. When I do 'strategic thinking,' I'm usually at the kitchen table making webs and lists. A 30-minute walk to a school gets my heart pumping and thoughts churning. I wake up refreshed and, sometimes, in those giddy I'm-awake moments, I have ideas that lead me somewhere new.
I think about, in no particular order:
- the sun shining or not shining
- how much I love walking
- water - frozen water - thawing ice
- the state of education in the US/ in NM/ in my community
- the European Union
- Sarah's experiences here in Finland
- what I'm seeing in Finnish classrooms
- Brian's visit to Finland
- how to get from point A to point B
- will I see any summer in Finland before I go home?
- huh, I don't miss teaching...huh
- should I go to the sauna tonight?
- World Peace
I've been in Finland for 10 weeks. I have 7 weeks remaining. After the first month of trying to figure things out (shopping, using the stove, using the washing machine, bus schedules, spikes for boots, how to contact schools, who to contact) I decided to spend another full month visiting as many classrooms as I could, even if it did not directly relate to my project. I wanted to get as solid and as well-rounded of a view of Finnish education as possible. My goal was then to focus on visits and experiences that directly relate to my project over April and May.
For me, I am so grateful that I took the time to explore because, I believe, I cannot look at a slice of Finnish education (in my case, how Finnish teachers engage students in global citizenship) without looking at the Whole. I cannot understand what I'm seeing and what I'm not seeing without understanding the systemic context that supports, defines and sustains Finnish education.
When I wrote my proposal and when I arrived in Finland, I assumed I would be seeing wide-spread strategic, replicable teaching in the area of global citizenship. These assumptions were based on my readings and research. The reality is that I'm not seeing what I assumed I'd see through my American educator lens. I had chosen to use a paradigm of global competency that is very American and apply it to Finland. Of course, this will not work. Square peg, round hole.
I've had to rethink what I wanted to present. I do not want to dwell on what I'm not seeing because that's irrelevant. I want to focus on what I am seeing. This past week and over the next 6 weeks, I have scheduled several school visits around the country with schools and board of education officials in an effort to zero in on how Finnish teachers do and will engage students in global citizenship under the current and new national curriculum. Isn't that awesome? I get to dig deeper and think deeper. I have the privelege of working to understand Finnish education without comparing it to what I know as an American teacher. I'm connects and I'm having A-ha moments and I'm learning...everyday, I'm learning.