Thursday, November 17, 2011

In the unmapped forests of the future

Andreas made a posting worth reading, "Don’t Let Them Keep You Quiet", about what is happening in the United States, namely censorship attempts by the media industry: "[T]his is the illusion industry. Their business is to show you things that are not, and to make you believe they are. Technically this is not different from lying, it’s only a matter of intention. As a lobby, the entertainment industry is probably the most dangerous in the world."

I made a comment there, and feel the topic is worth writing about here also. Namely, some people in the States are blaming the school system for brainwashing the children from the one and only truth (as defined by the rich and powerful, such as the media industry).

I wonder why we don’t seem to have politicians who have courage and wisdom. Or maybe we never did, perhaps it was just an illusion.

But I do have a case example of there having existed wise politicians. Namely, here in Finland in the 1950s and 1960s the school system was developed in such a way as to afford every Finnish child equally good education. There was a group of policiticans who drove through this program, and it changed the whole country immensely for the good.

I’m myself a beneficiary of this wisdom. The Finnish school system made it possible for me to get an education – to move from a small farm in a small village, far up in the north, to high-school and to a good university.

And this large-scale development changed Finland from an economy based on forestry and agriculture all the way to the forefront of the current “information age”.

But today we have nationalistic and populistic politicians who blame schools for teaching things like multiculturality, gender equality, social fairness, and so on. And this same school system has been evaluated to be one of the best in the world…

But I still have faith in Finnish teachers. They are dedicated, hardworking, and justly proud of what they are doing. And maybe the Finnish people also are up to the challenge posed by populistic politicians and industry lobbying.


Richard Beddard said...

There's something very satisfying about Tree. It's a very ordinary scene, but the position of the objects and the framing make it pleasurable. The browns too. You find beauty, in strange places.

Markus Spring said...

I like today's images - "Street" made me chuckle.
Re. education: What you and I profited from was a period in the 60' and 70' of last century, when after recovery from WWII and satisfaction of the most urgent needs a mindset enthusiastic of education became mainstream for a short time - at least in Germany it has mostly ebbed away. But at that time educated and idealistic politicians were able to share a vision about developing the potential in the whole population for mutual benefit.

Beginning already in the 80' we saw a paradigm change here in Germany, partially re-establishing a moderate class system again: For the masses we got commercial TV stations, bringing the level of entertainment to increasing all-time-lows, and for the upper class elite promotion was introduced in form of extra funded universities and tuition (fees) for the students. The last step - still in discussion - is a bonus payment for parents who don't send their kids to a public kindergarden.

It seems that education for all doesn't have a high priority any more.

Juha Haataja said...

@Richard: I almost didn't stop to take the "Tree" photograph, as it was so dark. I used ISO 500, f/2,0, EV -1 and 0.6 second exposure. That was pushing the limits of the LX5.

It is far from sharp, and noisy - but I do like it.

What I find remarkable that when I stop to take a photograph, I often have no conscious idea why I do so. And I try not to start thinking about it, I just let it happen - think afterwards.

Sometimes I'm completely baffled why a particular photograph works. Of course, usually they don't.

Juha Haataja said...

@Markus: When I took the "Street" photograph I felt happy for some reason, but had no idea why. Now I sort of "get it" - but there was some part of the brain that "saw" something and made me stop to take a photograph.

And about education: this lack of interest is all the more strange when you note that all our future depends on new ideas, discoveries and innovations - and if we waste the talent of human beings by not educating all children, we will not be able to cope with future challenges.

Well, maybe we have it too good right now...

Markus Spring said...

Juha, that "we have it too good right now" could be on the right track: The substantial challenges we have are not recognized (and they probably won't hit this ruling generation), so the amassing of wealth and comfort seems to be a reasonable goal. Of course most European states are far from U.S. circumstances, where a large percentage of the population lives under precarious circumstances (you probably saw the Eskildson photos in Time: ) but some are trying to emulate the mechanisms.

Juha Haataja said...

@Markus: Thanks for pointing out the Eskildson photographs on poverty.

They brought to mind the experience of reading The Grapes of Wrath, of the impossible situation the migrant workers had in their lives. The terror of poverty, a fear beyond every other.

Markus Spring said...

For me 'Grapes of Wrath' is deeply connected with Dorothea Lange's 'Migrant Mother'. I read Lange's biography last year and found it really impressive, although in explaining to me a bit of the American mindset and spirit, certainly different to what was at that time in Europe.

Juha Haataja said...

@Markus: It is interesting that you mention 'Grapes of Wrath' together with Dorothea Lange's 'Migrant Mother'. For me there was over 20 years between reading the book and seen that photograph - it wasn't long ago when I didn't yet know anything about what FSA was doing during depression.

But anyway, I think our worldview is dominated by a kind of "Disney reality", where even poverty is made to look good: "Barbie as the Princess and the Pauper". Maybe we would go mad otherwise?