Posts Tagged ‘learning


161/2011 student learning to understand the world

How interesting to visit our daughter’s foreign university campus. A curious mix of ancient and modern, but now largely deserted for the summer. No students studying on the lawns, which drew my attention to this bronze sculpture.

It’s called ‘Youth with Split Apple’, and is by a Scottish sculptor Kenny Hunter. The accompanying plaque read:

“Kenny Hunter’s art offers a contemporary take on traditional figurative sculpture. Unlike the commanding figures of many triumphal monuments, here a student reclines among us, sharing our space. He is holding an apple, a traditional symbol of intellectual awakening, which is split in two to suggest the dualistic nature of knowledge, good and bad. In this work, Kenny Hunter questions the assumption that knowledge is acquired through action, instead suggesting that openness and contemplation play their part and that the aim of life is not to change the world but to understand it.”

These words and ideas really spoke to me, as a teacher on my summer holiday. We all need contemplative time, to understand the world around us a bit better. Perhaps then we might even be ready for some action to make tiny changes.


117/2011 stairs of knowledge

117/2011 stairs of knowledge, originally uploaded by rosipaw.

Attending a further training course at the university of Helsinki. Typical modern campus with square building, and straight lines and lots of glass walls. And the inevitable stairs to climb up, symbolically towards more and more knowledge and understanding.


020/2011 footprints

020/2011 footprints, originally uploaded by rosipaw.

A nightly footprint in the snow – the newspaper delivery person. Clearly somebody who has nothing to hide, and is not worried about leaving an identifiable mark behind. Yet, it’s not a consciously created mark, but purely accidental. The person would probably be surprised to know about my picture of it!

How aware are our students about their digital footprints? Will they fall prey to stalkers, or lose a job opportunity in the future, because of carelessly uploaded online material? Some schools warn and present scary examples, block and protect. All with good intentions, I’m sure. I would rather see students start consciously working on a positive online image at school, with the guidance of teachers. But do we know how to guide them?


#223 open sesame

223/365 open sesame, originally uploaded by rosipaw.

Another school year is opening in front of me. Time of change, back to daily working routine,

A more abstract gate also exists to the realm of learning. I often wish I had the magic password to help each student open the gate to enter their personal learning space. Missing the universal key, I guess we will try to pick the lock in varied creative ways, and hopefully learn many skills in the process.


#186 trapped

185/365 trapped, originally uploaded by rosipaw.

Poor butterfly. It had strayed in, and got trapped behind the glass of our garden door. It kept fluttering about, fluttering about, desperately trying to get out, but unable to get through the transparent, and delusive obstacle in front. The lovely sunny garden was just there, but there was no way out.

I guess it’s possible for us people, too, to get trapped behind visible, or not so obvious, mental walls. With all good intentions, we keep repeating the same, instinctive or learned, patterns to reach a goal, only to realize that we are not getting anywhere. Some students do this with learning. It’s very difficult to unlearn and think of a new approach. I sometimes wish I could see ‘inside students’ heads’, to actually understand what their obstacles look like, and then be able to help them. With the butterfly it was easy – I opened the door, and freedom to explore at last!


#179 high key shopping

179/365 high key shopping, originally uploaded by rosipaw.

White was today’s Daily Shoot colour:

Go high key today. Make a photograph that’s all bright tones or dominated by white.

I had to do a lot of searching and research about high key photography. A totally new concept for me. One thing I did pick up, was that high key photos are bright and create a happy and joyful feeling. No wonder then that lots of white, lights and bright colours are used in shopping centres. Happy people will buy more! Wouldn’t you just be irresistibly drawn towards this entrance?

I now notice that the bottom part of the pillars can’t quite be differentiated from the overall whiteness – sign of overexposure I guess. Today’s assignment was a real challenge, and made me realize how much I need to work before I can even dream of learning. I know so very little about my camera, all its features and how they will affect the picture. Photography truly teaches the patience and humility required for lifelong learning.


#146 square peg into a round hole

146/365 square peg into a round hole, originally uploaded by rosipaw.

Today’s Daily Shoot assignment instantly reminded me of this old children’s toy.

Lose the rectangle today. Make a photograph with a square (1:1) aspect ratio and post it. Crop if needed.

I can remember our daughter eagerly playing with this wooden box when she was small. She kept patiently trying to work out which peg fitted into which hole. And what a sense of achievement every time she managed to get one in. It soon got too boring, though, when she had memorized it all. I often struggle with the balance between some necessary routine and repetition and creativity in learning and teaching foreign languages.

What about the square peg students in schools that only offer round holes? Or teachers, for that matter, who themselves don’t fit in the accepted moulds? Will the squares be forced to round their edges, or will holes of varying shapes and sizes be allowed?


#72 spring pruning

072/365 spring pruning, originally uploaded by rosipaw.

It’s the time to start preparing your yard and garden for approaching spring growing season. Sometimes we slightly disagree with our neighbours about how much to control and tame our surroundings (we live in a 4-family rowhouse). We wouldn’t mind seeing some more freely and wildly growing plants around us, but in a controlled town environment apparently it is not acceptable. After all, what would passers-by think? So, a lot of branches were cut off in the hope of encouraging controlled regrowth of the bushes and trees. And I’ve got to admit that maybe getting rid of some of the dead branches will actually be beneficial.

Makes me wonder how often we teachers stump our students’ learning curves by insisting on uniform learning outcomes from all. What would happen if we let students grow and learn in a less controlled fashion? Chaos, mess, disapproval from other people? Or is it necessary and helpful to interfere by discouraging ineffective learning methods to enhance student learning?


#54 east meets west

054/365 east meets west, originally uploaded by rosipaw.

Host and guest – one a Malay Muslim, the other a Finnish Christian. Very different in so many ways, but also so similar deep down. Face-to-face student exchanges teach insights into diversity and difference, but also to what connects us humans deep down, and what we share in common. Sounds a cliché, but is so very true.

Our student exchanges are always home-stay visits. Even a short stay at the home of a local family gives a new perspective to the lives of people in other countries. It helps dismantle stereotypes and promote tolerance and understanding. Our week in Singapore taught us first-hand about diversity in a multi-cultural society, since some students stayed with Chinese, others with Indian and others still with Malay families. Not only were their native languages different, but also their religions, customs, homes reflected their ethnic backgrounds. What an experience for our students from a largely monocultural Finland! In our debriefing sessions after returning home we will try to deepen the lessons learned.


July 2020

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