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Vieraskieliset / In-english

Blog: ”I want to dis­cuss re­li­gi­on”

Vieraskieliset / In-english
11.5.2017 6.16

The wes­tern sky bla­zed scar­let and wis­py clouds of mist were cree­ping over the field bey­ond the brook. The hal­l­way was full of duf­fel bags and slee­ping bags, the so­fas were cram­ped with kids, some adults were stan­ding in the door­way, and small groups were loi­te­ring here and there. The win­ter pe­ri­od of con­fir­ma­ti­on clas­ses had just clo­sed, and the stu­dents had gat­he­red in­to the hall to wait for their ri­des home.

We had spent the wee­kend to­get­her. There had been 77 con­fir­ma­ti­on stu­dents, 11 big brot­hers and sis­ters, two coun­sel­lors and four te­ac­hers. The wee­kend had been in­ten­si­ve and pe­a­ce­ful, alt­hough the pre­mi­ses had been fil­led to ca­pa­ci­ty. The camp star­ted off well. When we met on Fri­day eve­ning to get to know each ot­her, we dis­cus­sed to­get­her what a good con­fir­ma­ti­on camp is like. Each group was as­ked to draw a big tree. On the roots of the tree the group mem­bers wrote down their thoughts of why they had come to the camp and what, in their opi­ni­on, is the pur­po­se of a con­fir­ma­ti­on camp. On the trunk of the tree the stu­dents wrote com­ments on what ma­kes a camp a good camp, and on the branc­hes they wrote down what they in­ten­ded to do to make our camp a good camp. They then drew le­a­ves on the branc­hes and ad­ded to them their ho­pes and wis­hes con­cer­ning the camp. It was good to read what they ho­ped for: I want new friends and even more new friends. I want to dis­cuss re­li­gi­on. I want that no-one is bul­lied or left out. I want that no-one needs to be alo­ne.

When I was a new­ly gra­du­a­ted church mu­si­ci­an, I al­so kept mu­sic les­sons for con­fir­ma­ti­on stu­dents. Those les­sons were 45-mi­nu­te mo­no­lo­gu­es with lo­ads of trans­pa­ren­cies. My les­son plans were ba­sed on the lec­tu­res of church his­to­ry I had at­ten­ded at the uni­ver­si­ty, and I am qui­te sure there were not even mi­ni­mal short­cuts in the chro­no­lo­gy. I kept flip­ping on the pro­jec­tor trans­pa­ren­cies co­ve­ring cen­tu­ry af­ter cen­tu­ry of his­to­ry, made the stu­dents lis­ten to Gre­go­ri­an chants, and tried to desc­ri­be the mys­te­ri­ous world of neu­mes to the droo­ping hoo­dies in front of me. I could hear pa­pers rust­ling and stu­dents sig­hing more and more we­a­ri­ly as we plod­ded on through the his­to­ry of the Fin­nish hym­nal and sang va­ri­ant trans­la­ti­ons of hymns from dif­fe­rent eras. I still re­mem­ber well the stu­dents’ slee­py ey­es in the ear­ly mor­ning when I mars­hal­led my ar­ray of examp­les of how Gre­go­ri­an chants de­ve­lo­ped over the cen­tu­ries in­to ver­na­cu­lar hymns with or­gan ac­com­pa­ni­ment.

Time and age have sin­ce gi­ven me a sen­se of pro­por­ti­on for how to te­ach con­fir­ma­ti­on stu­dents. I have le­arnt that in­te­rac­ti­on with the stu­dents in mu­sic class is more im­por­tant than im­par­ting know­led­ge. In some ca­ses I need to com­pe­te hard for ‘screen time’ with smart pho­nes and life-or­ga­ni­zing ap­p­li­ca­ti­ons. In a lar­ge group there are al­wa­ys many dif­fe­rent le­ar­ners and ta­len­ted mu­si­ci­ans, and as a te­ac­her I would like to give each of them a chal­len­ge to le­arn. I feel that my les­son plans and te­ac­hing met­hods have been good if I have ma­na­ged to chal­len­ge to stu­dents to dis­cuss. And if I have been ab­le to make them sing.

The stu­dents of this camp did sing. They said it is ”qui­te OK to sing to­get­her be­cau­se then the ot­hers don’t hear if you sing out of tune”. But I think that being ab­le to co­ver up one’s mis­ta­kes is not so im­por­tant. It is much more im­por­tant that, when sin­ging to­get­her, we all con­cent­ra­ted on the same thing at the same time, sha­red this ex­pe­rien­ce of to­get­her­ness, and con­fes­sed the same thing with our sin­ging. I think this is the on­ly way in the world to cre­a­te such an ex­pe­rien­ce.

The to­pic of our last les­son du­ring this win­ter cour­se was the con­fes­si­on of faith. The stu­dents were di­vi­ded in­to small groups and as­ked to dis­cuss this to­pic ba­sed on some Bib­le quo­tes. The small groups were then com­bi­ned in­to big­ger groups, and fi­nal­ly all stu­dents were ab­le to share their thoughts to­get­her. The te­ac­her as­ked for com­ments on some real-life si­tu­a­ti­ons, such as being as­ked by a clas­s­ma­te to come along for a beer, or a dan­ce les­son ha­ving been sche­du­led for phy­si­cal edu­ca­ti­on. These si­tu­a­ti­ons were fa­mi­li­ar to many of the 80 stu­dents. Dif­fe­rent ans­wers were gi­ven: ”I would say I don’t come be­cau­se I am a les­ta­di­an.” “I would say I don’t come be­cau­se of my re­li­gi­ous con­vic­ti­on.” “My friends know I am a be­lie­ver, so I don’t need to say anyt­hing”, said one stu­dent from the back row. The te­ac­her con­ti­nu­ed to chal­len­ge the group to think more ca­re­ful­ly and as­ked: ”Is that re­al­ly a cor­rect ans­wer? Is the fact that you are a les­ta­di­an the real re­a­son for ma­king choi­ces that are dif­fe­rent from those of the ma­jo­ri­ty of pe­op­le? Or what is the re­a­son?”

Well, is it re­al­ly? What would yo­ur ans­wer be?

Text: Mai­ja Rim­pi­läi­nen

Trans­la­ti­on: S.-L. Lei­no­nen

You will find the ori­gi­nal Fin­nish blog post here.


Kos­kaan en ota hä­nel­tä pois ar­mo­a­ni, mi­nun liit­to­ni kes­tää hor­ju­mat­ta. Ps. 89:29

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