Sunday, June 16, 2013

Finnish Finish


Okay, I confess. I don’t have anything earthshaking to say here, but feel compelled to write for three reasons:

  1. I had to use the title above. *
  2. My plane was cancelled and I was re-routed, giving me three extra hours in the airport. If I have to pass the time, I might as well invite you to join me.
  3. Sometimes you just have to start writing and see if anything interesting turns up.
So here in Helsinki Airport awaiting the long flights home. Last night, got off the boat and was whisked away to have dinner with Finnish tap dancers taught by a Greek man and a French woman living in Spain with her husband from Cameroon and their mixed-race Down’s syndrome daughter—all meeting in a Turkish restaurant and most of us talking in English. Diversity committee, take note! Dinner was superb, conversation fascinating and stimulating. I had an image of secret messages being tapped by feet under the table, but either they were too subtle for my diminishing ears or it didn’t happen. The Greek teacher and a Finnish man sitting side-by-side both had on plaid shirts and after a conversation with my daughter about the Hipster movement in plaid, I took a photo to show how it is spreading internationally.

Back at my friend’s house, I helped her translate the Finnish Orff Guidelines into English. Which seems strange since I speak exactly three words of Finnish, but actually I was able to help her. She gave me the music and translation to some haunting minor Finnnish folk songs (one of which they had sung to me while I lay in the middle of the circle). I’m excited about making some piano reharmonizations of them and learning one or two to try with the kids. We shared stories of our struggles with folks in power who don’t get who we are and what we have to offer (it’s universal!) and I retreated to my room to watch the end of Roman Holiday (see last entry).

The morning continued with more stories of parents who are abdicating their authority to their kids and letting the machines run their lives and though it’s just beginning in Finland, the scenarios are, again, universal. As authors Jerry Mander and Neal Postman pointed out decades ago, these technologies are not culturally, psychologically or emotional neutral. They have clear consequences and the patterns are traceable and consistent regardless of the mother culture. They amp up greed and desire, lower responsibility and connection in relationship, subvert family life and a healthy authority, promote short attention spans and restlessness. In the 1980’s, a school parent and I instituted the first TV Awareness week, later changed it to Media Awareness and continued these discussions each year for the next 10 to 15 years. But we haven’t had one at school for over a decade and how things have changed since then! Maybe time to bring it back. The only antidote to the negative effects is awareness, an awareness that can help us enjoy the positive things while also knowing when to unplug.

The alert reader might be thinking, “Hello, Doug!!?? You’re complaining about this and making us sit through this boring blog because the airport has Free Wi-fi, you have a laptop and you have a blog? Why don’t you just shut-up and watch the people walking by or gaze at the line of pine trees out the window or try to pronounce all the Finnish words you see?”

Okay, I get it. I’ll stop.

Right after I check my e-mail.

* PS Looked up last year’s blogs and already used that title! Darn!

1 comment:

  1. I agree! I am a teacher and I have noticed the consequences of all those machines. They worry me.
    Thank you for this, Doug!
    Reija

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