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FINDING SISU - WHEN THINGS GET TOUGH
Across many cultures, perseverance is a treasured trait. For Finnish people, the word sisu is particularly special. Its meaning is a combination of perseverance, courage, and rational behavior in the face of problems, adversity. When things get tough, a Finn demonstrates sisu. Some people include having “guts” as part of its definition. Finnish-Americans have been known to include sisu as a motto on license plates, coffee mugs, T-shirts, tattoos, and more.
Finns aren’t the only culture to honor such devotion to perseverance as a sign of good character. The term in Japan is ganbaru and there are at least a half-dozen other words that hold similar, but slightly different shades of meaning. Perseverance is also actually honored within the maxims of Confucianism, an ancient philosophy that is currently emphasized in China and many other Asian cultures.
The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.
It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.
In American culture, we have two vivid models of perseverance represented by our current national news at the end of July 2020.
The National Geographic article annotated here is full of interesting facts and insights about
the current space mission. It will arrive in February, the same month that spacecraft from
China and the United Arab Emirates will also be reaching their destinations. Yes, those
Earthlings are perseverant.
This short journey through various examples leads us to this reminder that In education, perseverance is a hallmark of successful students . . . and teachers. Longitudinal studies of children who were successful at delaying gratification at the age of 4, were still enjoying success in social and academic settings as teenagers. Teachers who prevail have initial hurdles to overcome. Beginning teaching is often described as “the hardest things I have ever done in my life.” Almost 50% of new teachers leave the profession within five years.
And that brings us to our current pandemic world, where we are confronted with circumstances that we have never had to deal with before. It is the opinion of this writer that we call upon our SISU and ingenuity to move forward. WE CAN DO IT!
Submitted by Greta Kallio Nagel, PhD
whose grandparents were Finnish immigrants
Mars Rover Perseverance https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/space/universe/mars-rover-report/
Sisu: The Finnish Art of Inner Strength https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20180502-sisu-the-finnish-art-of-inner-strength
Teachers leaving the profession at an alarming rate https://www.insider.com/teachers-are-seeing-their-colleagues-leave-at-an-alarming-rate-2018-11
Artifact of the Month
We are building a virtual
exhibition of our artifact collection. The selection for
Learn about this!
The highlighted artifact was donated to MOTAL by
Greta Nagel, Marie Kallio’s youngest daughter. She
was always proud of her
mother’s teaching career,
despite its relative shortness.
Click the above photo
to read all about it!