During the second week of November I had a great opportunity to visit El Dorado High School in Placerville, near Sacramento. At the same time this was of course a marvelous chance to see a glimpse of Northern California, Sonoma and San Francisco. And yes, it was the time for THE elections and for that big decision: so many people had terrible nightmares about the possible result. I was hosted by Tiffany Larson, my Fulbright colleague, who is going to be placed in Jyväskylä for the next spring as a FDAT Grantee. We had a great time and I am so happy to have the chance to host her and continue collaboration in many ways in the future.
What a time to visit the school: you could really feel the tension and for so many times I heard teachers and students saying: ” If the other candidate will win”… And that was what happened, that bad dream came true. A hot line was established between Jyväskylän Lyseo and Sacramento State House, when me and Tiffany contacted my colleagues and IB students at the time of the election result broadcast. During the Messenger call, the predict turned in favour of Trump and my American colleague Tiffany could not believe it. She was devastated like all my American acquaintances and friends in Indiana and California.
A hot line between Jyväskylän Lyseo and the Sacramento State House
According to Fivefiftyeights- Analysis: Donald Trump won the presidential election despite polls that indicated Hillary Clinton was favored. One popular explanation for this is that some people were afraid to admit to pollsters that they supported Trump — what’s being called the “shy Trump” phenomenon. A review of the evidence, however, suggests that probably isn’t why the polls got Trump wrong.The “shy Trump” theory relies on the notion of social desirability bias— the idea that people are reluctant to reveal unpopular opinions.
At El Dorado High School I also had an opportunity to follow history lessons, interview two history teachers and also the Principal for my research, so it really was a good one. I have now observed 31 social studies lessons, visited 9 different high schools during my scholarship semester. All the schools have been very different from Finnish counterparts; first of all, the students are not allowed to leave the school building or either the school area during their school day. As one of students in Indiana pointed out: sometimes it feels like you are in a jail for a day. Is that for safety reasons ? Maybe, but it has also something to do with this tradition to sue people. As it has been explained to me: schools are afraid that something bad is going to happen and the parents will sue the school because of that.
Well, for a Finnish teacher this seems to be very odd as a practice.
As a whole Social studies´teaching is filled with quizzes, independent work, answering surface level questions. A quiz is like a formative test and that could take 25-30 minutes/ lesson (very often). According to my observations AP and regular US history teachers usually ask very simple questions like ” What happened and When? What was the name of this” ? Not so many deeper approach demanding questions like ” To what extent”–? or “Justify the claim”. This surface level approach could be explained by the amount of the tests and those multiple-choice-questions, which require to memorize the facts instead of challenging students historical thinking skills. You really see your own system´s benefits as a whole in a different light.
Don´t never give up, do your best, try and think positively. There is nothing wrong with those phasers. Challenge yourself, speak up and take part in and everything is going to be okay. The result could be awesome, great of either good. Surface level questions or not, innovations come up and people have good self-confidence. Maybe there is something to think about.
After the time spent in Sacramento in was a time to move on to Sonoma and San Francisco and to explore a bit of beautiful Northern California. We rented a car and headed to Sonoma to see my high school friend Riitta. What a great re-union it was! She is married to a Canadian and they have been living in California for about year and a half. It was so interesting to discuss and share views on American way of life and on everything else you can just imagine.
And then finally: The visit to San Francisco! I truly can say that I liked the city, its beautiful old buildings and the atmosphere. It was still so sad to see that huge amount of homeless people on the streets. The American dream is not always a dream to come true.
Good Bye California, back to business in Indiana. Only three weeks left and so much to do with the project, report and the presentation. But enjoyable at the same time.