Twohundred and Ninety-Third Asic- A hint of Swedish Midsummer

A couple of years ago, I experienced a very cold Midsummer’s Eve in the middle of Dalarna, Sweden. It was impossible to keep warm and later in the evening, I spent time in my sauna, which was indeed the very first time during summer! The lake I admire in the picture is called Siljan and that is the biggest lake in our county, however the other lake , called Väsman, close to my own town Ludvika, is also very beautiful.

Med ansiktet mot Siljan

Facing Lake Siljan

In this post I’d like to share a few photos from this morning when I was out walking. I hope you enjoy the scenery! The flowers are all typical for this time of the year and we use them when we make wreaths for our Midsummer celebration. This year I will most likely spend my Midsummer’s Eve in San Francisco, California, so I deciced to just add a little Midsummer feeling two weeks ahead of time… 😉 First a picture from long ago… Thank you Mom and Dad for sharing the typical traditions of our country!

Jag och pappa och mamma

Åsa, Dalke and Inger

Almost every Midsummer’s Eve all my life, I’ve spent in a church village called Stora Skedvi. I’d like to share a few of those very typical fiddle tunes with you, although here they are not played by my father’s group of fiddlers… First a march called #Trettondagsmarschen, that is usually played as the opening of #Bingsjöstämman, a get-together for fiddlers and those who love folk music, usually held the first week of July every summer. The second march is called #Rättvikarnas gånglåt and is also very famous.

Trettondagsmarschen

Rättvikarnas gånglåt

A couple of hundred years ago, people used this kind of music to endure longer walks, such as when they walked from their part of Sweden to the capital city of Stockholm for work opportunities there. It was easier to walk when someone played the fiddle… But instead of Spotify and iTunes for us, the fiddlers also shared their music willingly for dances in the evenings when all had stopped to rest for the night. A typical dance in my part of Sweden would be a ”polska” (Polish, as in from Poland), #Karis-Pers polska which is a slow dance with a high degree of sensuality between the two dancers, a man and woman… But a valse like #Bränd-Pers vals would also be appreciated by the dancing crowd. In some parts of Sweden it is possible to still dance these more traditional dances to live groups of fiddlers.

Karis Pers polska

Bränd-Pers vals

The celebration of Midsummer in all parts of Sweden is very traditional, but Dalarna is known for the tight connection  between folkmusic and folkloristic traditions in general.  Fiddlers playing their special music first of all, but also playing to typical dances for kids and adults. Crowds gather round Maypoles dancing together for fun as in ”Små grodorna” (the little frogs), or other such songs.

In Dalarna where I live, every little village proudly present a unique variety of traditions, unlike that of the village a few kilometers away. The food may vary, too, although most people would have sill (pickled herring) and fresh potatoes with sour cream and crisp bread with butter and cheese. Many would probably also have some strawberry cake with lots of thick cream (jordgubbstårta).

Midsommarblomster#asaolePrästkrage

This year I will not be home for Midsummer. I will most certainly think of days in the past when I celebrated Midsummer, but I will also find ways to make this year’s Midsummer’s Eve memorable, although I will spend it abroad. I wish you all a lovely summer and hope you will follow my blogposts from over there… Look out for blogposts with the hashtag #Swedish tourist in the USA

svenska flaggan

 

Would you like a second opinion on my version of Swedish Midsummer? 😉

http://

 

Two Hundred and Sixty-Forth Asic- School Smart with Smart Phones?

A lot of facts can nowadays be easily found on the internet. Rote learning as it was when I went to school, will soon be forgotten and a five-year-old can google just about anything with no help from an adult. I sometimes feel old when I notice how my kids know things I spent a lot of time learning. I do however think that the young generation of today are lucky to be able to browse all these facts and photos and movies and easily finding out about things that took a very long time when I was a child. They can even find friends abroad and getting to know a person on the other side of an ocean, speaking with that person in real time through computers and smart phones and I can’t help remembering my pen-pals in other countries and how I used to wait for days and weeks for their letters back to me… 🙂

All the kids nowadays need to do is Google… At work I notice that the gap between those who know how to handle IT and those who do not is increasing. There will be no equality unless students get their computers thru school and also good instruction from skilled teachers. There will always be students with parents who either cannot afford a new computer, or maybe don’t understand to what extent their kid will be left out in school if they cannot be online and use internet as the rest of the kids. Being curious is a good start!

Even if we may think some things were better THEN than they are NOW, we need to at least try to go with the flow…

Otherwise we, the teachers, would soon be relics, too… Stored and filed side by side with flanellografs,

chalkboards and sandpits with sticks…

griffeltavla.jpg (637×510)

In subjects where a smartphone is a rich resource I don’t fully understand why schools still say students cannot use their phones in class, but I assume it’s a matter of students’ age. The teacher has a great opportunity getting things done a lot more easy by accepting the use of smart phones when it IS smart to use them. If I would stick to the rules of many classrooms today and say ”Don’t use your smart phone in class!” my students would have a tougher time learning Swedish. I do however need to stress that one of the reasons for smart phones to be a good alternative in my classroom is the fact that I teach adults. My subject is Swedish as a Second Language.

I have experience from working with teenagers or younger and having to address several situations each day where students have passed rules for the usage of their smart phones. Not all students respect rules and when students end up in recordings or photos that are posted on the internet that is a problem that takes a lot of important time off from the learning process in class. One way of dealing with problems such as that, is to remove the actual smart phone from the classroom situation. In many Swedish schools teachers collect the students’ phones before each lesson, in order for students not to use them in class. Thus the students are more focused on what their teachers say and what the lesson is all about, which is of course very important. I do however think that it is sad that such an extraordinary tool as the smart phone cannot be effectively used for learning purposes. If it’s a matter of disciplin, then the actual disciplin problem needs to be addressed. From here and on, this blog post is focusing on some of the benefits of using smart phones in learning situations.

Let me share a few examples from my own classroom, which is a language learning classroom with Swedish as a Second Language as the one and only subject. When we don’t find the solutions to meanings of words, the smart phones serve as dictionaries and saves a lot of time, compared to finding out by a visit at the local library, but that is not the only way to save time with a smart phone in a classroom! The students and I talk a lot about things we read, listen to or watch. I always try to help them by writing additional examples on my white board. This is however not a classroom with a SMART BOARD, but just an ordinary poorly equipped in-the-basement-classroom. When the white board is completely filled with comments, words and phrases connected to the topic we discuss,  I ask the students to simply use their smart phones and take a photo of my notes. That’s quick and easy and also a SMART way to use PHONES, although in the future,  I hope to be among the lucky ones who have smart boards in their classrooms.

Another thing with language learning is to use the phone for pronunciation. Many students in my classroom merely meet one person who speaks Swedish and I am that person. Although I try to give them several suggestions to where they can listen to Swedish, or perhaps meet Swedish people and talk to them, it is very difficult for some of them. Their smart phones is thus an excellent way to help them out with at least pronunciation of difficult words or phrases. More than anything else, the quality of the sounds of the nine Swedish vowels, when put in different positions of words or phrases are easy to repeat when students get back home, if they have recorded different examples in class. When students record my pronunciation and go back home and listen and repeat, their own pronunciation improves rapidly.

Ines Uusmann, Minister for Infrastructure, seemed to believe that the internet would be forgotten after a few years, although it is said that the reason why everyone remembers, is that the headline for the article was a fake quote. This is in fact (in Swedish, though…) what she said:

”Jag vågar inte ha någon alldeles bestämd uppfattning men jag tror inte att folk i längden kommer att vilja ägna så mycket tid, som det faktiskt tar, åt att surfa på nätet. […] Att sitta och surfa på nätet tar en himla massa tid. Vad är det bra för? […] Det kanske är så att det är något som vuxit upp nu. Alla pratar om internet men kanske är det övergående och sedan blir inriktningen mer specificerad”

Ines Uusmann citerad i Svenska Dagbladet, 12 maj 1996.

Källa: Rydén, Daniel, ”Dimmor på nätet”, Sydsvenskan, 4 mars 2007.

 

One hundred and fortyeighth åsic- Freedom is a gift to cherish!

fa2ab1f01d-300_306_jorden.jpg (299×305)

Freedom is not to be taken for granted. It is a gift to cherish! Freedom of what? one may ask. To me it is definitely important to have a chance to change things in my own life and thus there are many aspects of life where I think the individual needs freedom to make decisions. Freedom is one of the most difficult expressions to describe, along with a few others, such as democracy, equality or justice. In my opinion freedom is essential, freedom of thought, of religion, of press or maybe the freedom to choose a way of living, whom to marry and even IF to marry? In my profession I meet many students who have not had the chance to make decisions of their own although they are adult students. Many of them have come to Sweden from countries with weaker Governments or with no Governments at all, OR they have come from countries where the Government decides almost everything and leaves very little for the individual to decide.

When I get to know young adults from other countries I notice first of all, that they have struggled a lot with many things in life in their past. Some of them started to work as ten-year-old to finance their schooling. Others didn’t have an opportunity to go to school at all, since they were girls. In many countries girls don’t have the freedom to go to school. Instead they are married off early to a future as mothers of many children. Some other countries seem to have the tradition of first educating girls and then as they become mothers they are supposed to stop working and be housewives from then on… If I had been one of those young women, I would have missed my work for the rest of my life! I am happy to have a chance to stay at home with my children when they are newborn and then get back to work again. To me, being at work if I like to, means freedom. Freedom of choice is to me the most important of all aspects of freedom as a basic condition for life. Choice is however individual and we may come to different conclusions when given similar options, simply because our conditions for life are completely different if compared between cultures or countries or socio-economical groups.

Vägval.jpg (849×565)

Some of the adult students from other countries I have met in my profession, shared with me that they could not do otherwise but to follow their parents’ decisions without questioning them. They haven’t had the opportunity to decide whom to marry, what to become, if they like to be a parent or not and in that case, how many children they would like to have. Some of them come from countries where genital mutilation is reality. Giving birth to a child is matter of life and death in such a country. The freedom to use contraceptives or the possibility to have an abortion, along with a chance to go through IVF are taken for granted in my country, but it is prohibited in many countries worldwide. Despite bad health conditions or poverty along with a lack of general education for all children young students in some countries achieve their goals. I think they may need to be more determined than many Swedish students. I admire them for not giving up!

Taking things for granted may be contraproductive for achievements or grades in school. Almost all young adults in Sweden pass through twelve years of schooling without needing to think of their safety, or whether they will have enough food for the day or not. Many of them (but not all!) are supported by their parents and earn extra money after school in parttime jobs, where they save almost all the salary for luxurious consumtion, lazy holidays or other things that wouldn’t be possible in many other countries. Then some of them plan, too, for a profession where a long education in a university is necessary. It is possible through a national loaning system open for all citizens, to finance studies although your parents are not wealthy. Not all choose to go on to university, but the point is that there is a built in opportunity for everyone who likes to try.

If I take a look around, I notice that many people around the globe has a limited access to the freedom I cherish in my everyday life. I realize that being born in an industrialized country means being privileged. As I get older, I want to share some of the good opportunities with others. Yesterday a volunteer from Amnesty International called and asked for a contribution. It was in fact very easy to become a member. Easy both in mind and thought and moneywise. Right now I haven’t got a lot of time to be an activist, but with my membership I will recieve updates from the valuable work worldwide and I look forward to knowing more. Maybe I will be able to find a suitable way to a more active contribution in the future? I hope so!

The seventythird åsic- 53

world-map-153509_640

That’s the current number of countries where this blog has been read, 53!

I’m amazed. Why do one even start a blog?I started off for two main reasons, but after six months as a blogger I have noticed that it’s more to it than that. The two reasons I had at the beginning was first of all to make a standpoint for teachers before the General Election in Sweden. Secondly I wanted to share a lot of thoughts I had on teaching and instruction, since I think that its is a waste of time if every young teacher has to invent the wheel over and over again. Giving advice to young teachers is important to me, since I remember a few teaching friends who m did the same to me when I was young. From the comments I get I understand that at least some of the texts might have been interesting to some of you. In a couple of weeks I’ll be off for the USA. I owe it to my hosts to write in English those two weeks. Otherwise they can’t read what I write.

But to you all, in Sweden and somewhere else: Thanks for reading!

 

// Love, Åsa