Five hundredth åsic- To choose or not to choose is the question, #Femhundrade åseriet

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When I was in NJ a couple of years ago I noticed that I am not very good at choosing and find myself ambivalent and indecisive, If there are a lot of options. At least when it comes to choosing food from a menu… 😀

I wonder if I possibly have inherited this from my daughter? We are just the same when we are in a situation of choice. If we get stuck, we do however have different solutions to our problem. My daughter would most likely go for a choice similar to some of her friends, and thus avoid the risk of feeling her own choice was in any way bad. I, myself, on the other hand, sometimes want to follow the stream, not be the one to be a nuisance to others. SO although we both may do as others do, we seem to do so for completely different reasons. We also both tend to pick ”both” when it may be difficult to pick ”either…or”…

One of my friends have decided for herself to give herself a kind of punishment if she cannot make a decision when she is picking something for her (fika)coffee. If she cannot make up her mind about what nice pastry to choose, she simply says: ”En kanelbulle, tack!” (A cinnamon bun, please!). I remember many different situations when this friend and I have lined up to buy a cup of coffee and she and I both try hard to make a decision, but when it’s our turn at the check-out, we realize that it’s impossible… Luckily a cinnamon bun is a great treat along with a cup of coffee!

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But…what if my reluctance to make a choice is the very reason why I find it so difficult to be decisive in my classroom, too? The Swedish School System allows a lot of democratic processes for students to be involved in. We are supposed to engage our students in decision-making and students have a right to make an impact and be active in evaluating their school situation from many different perspectives. I don’t mind that situation at all… In fact I enjoy being interactive with my students in order to develop the learning process from year to year. Having said that, I also notice that Swedish students tend to be used to this collaboration with their teachers and they are also interested in sharing their opinion, suggest possible improvements to instruction or lessons, but my current students from different parts of the world seem more or less new to the idea of sharing their ideas and views.

I remember a lesson I had planned for a group of SVA3, where the students were all supposed to act and also to reveal a certain personality in a dialogue with friends. I had hoped for the group to pick a card with a personality and then ”go for it”, but obviously they were all worried about the situation and thought it was a better idea if I handed out the cards and thus made the choice more of a ”random” situation. After the activity I asked the students why they didn’t want to take part in the process of choice and they all said that they thought it was scary and unusual to decide for themselves in a school situation. It didn’t matter that they were all adults. They were all facing their old school situations where teachers make decisions and students do as they are told.

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Is there a difference between situations where one wants to choose or not? I don’t know if that would be universal, but I think from my point of view that when the decision is important to me FOR REAL, then I don’t give away my chance to choose voluntarily, but if there is no real and deep meaning to me personally, then I don’t mind letting someone else pick a choice of their taste. That is also why I completely trusted my friends when we decided what food to buy when I was in the US a couple of years ago. I trusted their taste and I didn’t want to be a pain…so instead of making a decision they wouldn’t appreciate, I’d rather let them choose. I guess we are all different. I notice that I am a person with a ”decision disorder” 😀

So… To choose or not to choose, will also in the future be the most important question, in every situation there is.

This is my 500th blogpost! Thanks for reading! ❤

 

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Four hundred and ninetyeighth Asic- Sunshine in November Makes Me Jump!

November has been going on for weeks, almost YEARS now… or at least ten days…but today it happened and I noticed! The sun managed its way through to us! I could almost pretend that it wasn’t November…! What a joyful moment! I’m happy! I think sunshine is nice whenever… but in November it’s like an award of some sort! I wake up when it’s dark, go to work when it’s dark…spend my day indoors and when it’s about time to leave for home again, it’s dark…! I know this is not the case all over the globe in November… 🙂 But here in Sweden where I live…!

I remember another year when the sun came out in November. I was not in my classroom, although none of my students would have frowned for a sunshine jump, but in the staff room. My reward  for my ”sunshine jump” was a lovely laughter from the two of my teaching friends who were in the staff room at the time. They were happy, too! We had all forgotten what the sun looked like and were SO happy for the unexpectedly bright sunshine for being this time of the year. I often notice in my classroom, with students from all over the world, that November is a challenge, especially to those who are used to bright sunshine all year through. I try to remind them of the importance of a walk or at least some well spent time outdoors, to get some daylight. I also tell them they may need Vitamin D…

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It is however not just sunshine that makes ME happy. I also look at the stars in the sky for relaxing purposes and this time of the year I search the sky for Orion and think of a friend I know who will search the sky for Orion, too. Sharing a quiet moment wide apart is a way of connecting despite long distance.

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Fourhundred and forty-sixth Asic- If you give a Magpie a Cookie…

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Years ago when my oldest daughter was a couple of years old, she got this little book as a gift from one of my dearest friends in the USA. I was told by him that the story was very much appreciated by young children and along with the book my daughter also got a little stuffed animal in the shape of a mouse, dressed like the mouse on the cover of the book. The book is the kind of repeating story that children love to listen to and there are many other books similar to this in many other countries, for instance in Sweden where I live. We learn to love the stories, although adults tend to love the first few times we read them, while children seem to like them although it may be the hundredth time its read to them…

I was thinking of this book today, because the story about the little mouse who is likely to want more and more from the boy in the book, is acting like the magpie in my garden. I was sitting in my garden today, together with one of my friends. It was lovely weather and we enjoyed the sunshine after a days work. We were first right under the oak tree, but after a while when the sun was moving, we moved, too, since our bench was now in the shade. We left the set table with cookies and tea under the oak tree…but moved the bench to a spot where the sun was still warming.  Suddenly my friend said: ”Look! The magpie is stealing something from the table!”

To her surprise I was merely saying ”Oh!” in the same kind of voice we use for cute little animals we love, or for little children… I had to tell her that this was most likely ”my” magpie from the birds nest in my apple tree on the other side of our house… And my friend looked as if the next thing to say would be ”So?!” It turned out that we had different experiences from magpies and their behavior, but shared the point of view that they are pretty smart. I decided to give the magpie a cookie. But I didn’t act at once. Instead we chatted on and after a while the magpie returned for another try at the table… My friend commented that maybe It would be TOO much of an offer to give the magpie ALL my cookies, so then I clapped my hands and the magpie flew off again… After it was gone, I removed every cookie except one. I left it on the chair and my friend and I got back to our bench a few meters away to wait and see whether the magpie would dare to try and get the cookie… She did!
drömmarMy only disappointment was that the magpie flew off to a garden two houses off from mine…

Really?! I couldn’t believe I was feeding the wrong magpie!!!…and with freshly baked cookies, too!!

Now I only dread the rest of the story, because if you give a magpie a cookie, she will most certainly come back for a glass of milk…but when I give her the milk, she will ask for a straw…

More about my magpie experiences are found in this link:

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magpie #skata

Fourhundred and thirty-seventh åsic- Long walks in London #Londonfrossa

Taking a walk in the forest leaves a certain feeling, as do a walk in a city like London. Oh how many things there are to see! There are of course a lot of things we would like to do quickly and then we’d most likely choose to catch a bus or maybe go by underground from one end of the city to the other. I do however prefer the long walks in London since they offer an experience where you actually get to see more of the city. Walking through Hyde Park an early morning gives an idea of London in earlier days when British society was different from what it is today. I mean, who would arrange such a lovely park nowadays? We all seem captured in the rapid life of IT and reluctant to go out IRL.IMG_00221

However taking that walk a very rainy day can be a true challenge. I bought a rain cap for my trip, knowing I might need to use it, but hoping for good luck with the London weather… träd 3Idegran i Hyde ParkI was however in a situation where the option was to end up soaking wet, or use the silly looking rain cap… so I used it…and I was happily dry after the rain… The walk past Albert Memorial on our way to Natural Science Museum and Victoria and Albert Museum was a nice stop, although the rain was pouring.

 

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Hyde Park shows a variety of trees and bushes and trees in bloom. To come from the wintery Sweden and find magnolia in bloom is a great reward! I didn’t even mind the rain that moment!

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After spotting Albert Hall, we had just about ten minutes walk left until we could hide from the rain in Natural History Museum.

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The visit at the Museum was long enough for the rain to hold for a few minutes when we walked on to Victoria & Albert Museum. Both museums were interesting in many different ways and I guess I will need weeks to sort all my impressions from both visits. After a delicious lunch in Victoria & Albert Museum, we walked to Harrod’s to make sure the luxurious store was still standing… Honestly, after two Museums, a walk in the store and the rain…all together made my day and as early as seven o’clock we had our dinner and then returned to the hotel to relax. Walking is fun and you get to see a lot, but it’s also exhausting… I’ll share more pix here later when I get home and sort my photos properly.

 

 

Three Hundred and Eighty-First Asic – Nobel Prize in literature 2016, Part 3

 

Nobelpris_medaljWhen the Secretary of the Swedish Academy announces this year’s winner of the prestigeous Nobel Prize in literature, many of the bookmakers have been biting their nails for a few days. As always we also meet different experts who share their particular viewpoint, such as the literature critics invited to the studio at SVT today:

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Will this year’s winner be one of the favorites or not? I keep hoping for Joyce Carol Oates, year after year. I think the committee has put a spell on her for some reason, since she never seems to be good enough in the competition.

According to Swedish newspapers this year, for instance Dagens Nyheter (DN), names like Ngugi wa Thiong’o (Kenya), Bob Dylan (USA),  Ali Ahmad Said Asbar more known as Adonis (Syria) or Haruki Murakami (Japan) have been mentioned as possible winners.

Nobel Prize in literature 2016 goes to Bob Dylan for having created new poetic expression within the American Song Tradition

Now that we know the winner, I guess the hunt for books starts right away! Everyone likes to read the Nobel Prize winner in order to follow the debate… I would most certainly be one of them who would like to give my opinion for questions such as Is this good literature or not? Did you like this year’s winner? 

Three Hundred and Eightieth Asic – Nobel Prize in literature 2016, Part 2

About a year ago I was eagerly waiting for the announcement of the Nobel Prize winner in literature for 2015. It turned out to be Svetlana Alexievich, an author I had never even heard of. I spent the next few weeks reading her books. I then wrote a few Asics on the topic and here is one of them:

The Last Witnesses: the Book of Unchildlike Stories written by the Belarusian Nobel Prize Winner of 2015, Svetlana Alexievich, tells another story than ”War Does Not Have a Woman’s Face”. This time Alexievich shows her excel by sharing hundreds of children’s memories from Belarus during the Second World War. I thought my reading ”War Does Not Have a Woman’s Face” would have prepared me for every surprising or somewhat appalling detail in The Last Witnesses: the Book of Unchildlike Stories but the fact is, I could not anticipate the way Alexievich had made the interviewed adults share so many exclusive moments from the past, filled with pain, horror and fear. Many of the children had been left behind by parents who either went to fight the enemy in the front army or in partisan groups and left their children with relatives. Many children were still in orphanages at the end of the war. Many parents never came back and their children still miss them:

”I’m already fifty-one, I am a mother myself, but I really do want a mother!” says one of the surviving children when interviewed by Alexievich.

What makes this book extraordinary is the way the author let short excerpts of longer interviews carry a few main topics that together form a war narrative we have never ever read before. The main topic is of course ”What happened in Belarus during the war?” however from a child’s point of view we rather see other topics, such as ”What happened to me when I lost my parents in the war?” or ”How could I survive although I didn’t have anything to eat except potato peels and grass?” and ”How could I survive and become an ordinary citizen after what I endured during the war?” What is even more interesting is that the reader is invited to read between the lines and make sense of all the narratives.

The Last Witnesses: the Book of Unchildlike Stories is close to the limit of what is bearable to read. One of the reasons why it gets under your skin might be that Alexievich has told the interviewed narrators to try and remember the way they thought when they were children. Obviously Alexievich succceeded since the narratives all seem to be told by children and not by adults remembering their childhood! From each narrator, Alexievich has found a central quote and the story is in a way interrupted by those quotes, changes topic quite often, but since the quotes are followed by the names of the narrator and their occupation as adults, the structure of the novel makes sense and the reader has a chance to a short glimpse of the adult reflection, too, since many of them end their narrative with a short comment about ”now”.

When reading the book, I think a lot of the many cups of tea that Alexievich must have had in the homes of the war veterans…and I also marvel about the way she has found something special in each narrative to tell us, however never repeating herself. Actually each narrator tells a completely unique story. They all share memories from the war from the point of view of a child, however the focus differ and thus a kind of quilt of stories takes form in my imagination. I read about personal loss, of fear, hunger, famine, children joining the army. I read about children who cannot go to school because they have to work in a factory or about children who don’t recognise their parents when they (if lucky enough!) meet them again after the war. But underneath the sad and depressing surface I also read about patriotism and pride, about never giving up and never revealing secrets to the enemy. The post war Belarus was completely destroyed and needed to be built up again and some of the narratives shared experiences from the postwar building up period when every survivor was needed, even the children.

But why would this book be necessary to read? The children suffered in so many different ways, but without the adult mind it was impossible for them to fully comprehend why there had to be a war. They needed to grow up in order to do so. We owe it to them to pass it on to next generation what a great loss they experienced when losing their parents, their childhood, their health and their innocence. Again, like when I wrote my previous book review: #This is a book that has to be read and spread!

Twohundred and Seventy-Eighth Asic- Anticipating Summer Vacation makes the Month of May seemingly Endless…

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It’s not over yet, one more week to go before the Month of May has come to an end… It’s funny how this month is connected with an everlasting workload at work and a fantastic bloom everywhere I lay my eyes… Apple blossom, flowers, the scent of Lily of the Valley when I pass my neighbor’s garden…

In Sweden where I live, we have the wonderful Nordic Light to support us when we feel tired this time of the year. Somehow I don’t really get tired, but a workload of grading at school makes me exhausted to the limit of what I can take in my profession. I have however noticed as years pass by, that I always manage to hand in all the grades in time, send out the papers to the students and clean my desk at work before I leave for summer vacation.

Added this year is our moving to another building. The four teachers in my staff room are now packing up our things and that is a bit sad. We have had a nice time together.  Personally, I have enjoyed my current position and classroom, too. But honestly, I know that wherever I move with my teaching, I have always enjoyed it, once I’m settled in the new place. What I DO mind a bit is the disorganized chaos before everything is set…but I guess I’ll have to live with that for the time being. It’s just a matter of days…:)

One month from now, I’m already on summer vacation, thinking of the past school year, hopefully with both satisfaction and a bit of loss, just as always on a sunny summer’s day!

#klocka