Saturday, September 27, 2008

Autumn

This has been a busy autumn. I had good intentions of updating my blog more often but I just have had no time or energy to do that. Even most of the weekends have been busy. I have been in dog shows and picking mushrooms with Piitu, who hopefully will be a good mushroom dog :) She likes to be in the woods and run among the trees but so far she has only found the mushrooms we found first and showed her with the help of some treats.

We had the final national exams for those who graduate high school and grading the papers is never easy, no matter how much practice I have got. The papers are sent to the national student board to be checked again and that is why I have to be careful. I can’t give too good grades because the students will have high expectations and are disappointed when the results come back after two months. I also can’t be too strict because I still hope that my opinion has some value; if I give low points it has to have an effect to the person who checks them after me. We have general guidelines, but they can never give advice to all the possibilities the students come up with.

On top of all this the worst happened again. After less than a year from the Jokela massacre a new one happened in Kauhajoki. The acts are almost identical. Because I am a teacher I have to face the happenings much more closely than most people and there are many issues which disturb me very much.

First of all, I am very sorry for all the victims and their families and friends. I am also sorry for the family of the student who caused all this. Everything I state below is targeted to our society and habits, not any individual.

Last year my son told me that he does not want to talk about the shooting because that was what the shooter wanted, all the “fame” the news give him. I have come to see that my son was even more right than I could ever have imagined. The event was in all the news for weeks and all the newspapers were competing who got to publish the tiniest piece of information first. When thinking about the past year I can remember only two news items going all over the others: Jokela and the foreign minister’s text message discussion!

Maybe it is typical for all humans but I think it is a very typical Finnish way of reacting; the first thing is to find who is to blame! Should the Minister of the interior be fired, did the police make a mistake when they did not take away the gun, why the disturbed young people aren’t treated or even found after Jokela… these are just the top of the iceberg.

A relatively new thing is the crisis control. There are phone numbers to call and all the health centers have to provide help for recovering the crisis. The schools have been advised that teachers have to handle the case in their classes and discuss it with the children (in my case adults). This is something I object to! All people who want to talk about it must be heard and comforted but no one has to face the discussion against their will. There are people like me who want to think things over by themselves first before we want to talk about it.

I have a very vivid imagination; if people are starting those “What if…?” speculations I really can’t handle all the new thoughts I did not manage to create myself. Talking about shooting and disturbed people to young children I condemn totally. Children have the ability of passing things they do not understand. Why make them anxious about things they were not worried in the first place. They will talk if they need to and then the adults have to answer them but on their level. I have argued about this before. I did not allow my daughter to go to the church children’s club when they told me that their subject following the religious calendar was to talk about death and they would read a book titled “Grandfather has passed away”. Why make 5-year old children worried about grandfather dying. My daughter was 25 when it happened and she had time to prepare.

One striking thing last year and now is blaming the whole thing on the internet. YouTube and games are bad for people and also heavy music. My grandmother thought that The Beatles represented all evil and nowadays Beatles songs are taught in schools. The world is developing and there is nothing we can or should do about it. People under 25 years have grown with the computers and know how to use it. The problem is that most of us older people can’t. The only thing we can do is to learn. Then we can advice the children how to act in the cyber space. I have been in a very close relationship with internet over the past year and I know that many of the myths attached to it are completely wrong.

First of all people want to limit the use of YouTube. Well, it is the biggest but how many people know that there are others. A quick Google search lead to a link Top 31 free alternatives to YouTube (video hosting sites). Who knows how many there are altogether.

A common belief is that all contacts to strangers are dangerous. I have found many foreign friends with whom I have discussions through Skype, GTalk or e-mails. The amount of contacts who have tried something suspicious is very small. If I get an e-mail from FBI confirming that a Nigerian bank is reliable and that they need help, I know it is a scam. I also did not believe the announcements I have won the Australian lottery.

The demands for young people are too hard nowadays. I just sometimes wonder if they really are or if the children are too overprotected. There are problems every person has to face at some point of life. We will not be here forever to take care of things but we have to give responsibility for our children.

The most annoying demands are the trends and advices we are given and condemning those who don’t follow them. Do eat healthy, do not smoke, do not drink, exercise at least 1 hour a day. There are strict limits to your weight, curves for the development of children and even small divergence in them creates confusion. I am old enough to ignore advice I don’t want but I really am worried about young people who don’t have enough confidence to know what is best for them. Actually there are not average people even though we all are tried to force to act average.

One exercise I think is the most important seems to be usually ignored. The frase “Mens sana in corpore sano" is usually construed to mean that only a healthy body can produce or sustain a healthy mind but I think it is the opposite way. If you keep your mind healthy you save yourself from physical illness better. Maybe it is too demanding to exercise one’s brain. To me it is the purpose of life, the only way I can keep my mind as healthy as possible. A good puzzle drives anxious thoughts away and when I have no particular worries I use the demanding ones which need my all brain cells. Finishing one gives me positive energy to save for later.