Helena Ruuska
Humanist of the day

Helena Ruuska

Reading, writing and teaching are the holy trinity to which Helena Ruuska has entrusted her life. She refuses to speculate on where work ends and her hobby begins. Depending of the situation, Dr Ruuska is a lecturer in Finnish language and literature, writer of textbooks, critic, literature researcher or biographer. She has changed jobs, even professions, according to her tastes and the winds of fate.

Helena Ruuska

Marja Helena Ruuska
Born May 7, 1958, Heinola

Master of arts 1984 (Finnish literature), licentiate 1995, PhD 2010, University of Helsinki
Qualified as a comprehensive school teacher 1980, University of Helsinki

Professor of Finnish language and literature 2009–, University of Helsinki, the Normal Lyceum of Helsinki
Publishing manager 2001–09, Otava publishing house
Lecturer in Finnish language and literature 1994–2001, Kruunuhaka secondary school
Class teacher 1980–94, City of Helsinki

Publications, awards and special achievements:
Eeva Joenpelto. Elämän kirjailija, 2015
Marja-Liisa Vartio. Kuin linnun kirkaisu, 2012

Textbooks and teaching material:
Kärki 7, teaching material for Finnish language and literature, 2015
Aleksis 7–9, teaching material for Finnish language and literature 2002–15
Piste 1–3 and 4–6, teaching material for upper-secondary school Finnish language and literature 2005 and 2006

Literary reviews in various newspapers, most recently Helsingin Sanomat 2009–

Positions of responsibility:
Vice-chairman of the Finnish Association of Non-fiction Writers 2012–
Member of the national curriculum working group for the primary school teaching of Finnish language and literature 2012–14

Photo: Pertti Nisonen / WSOY
Written by Helena Ruuska (Tomas Sjöblom, ed.)
Translated by Matthew Billington

Helena Ruuska knows comprehensive school like the back of her hand. As a newly graduated class teacher, she went through her baptism of fire at Jakomäki primary school in the 1980s. What she hadn’t learned at the Department of Teacher Education she soon acquired from taking care of 15 first-graders…

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Helena Ruuska became a textbook writer by chance. She was asked for feedback on Otava’s new Finnish language textbook for primary school pupils, Sanataituri, and before she knew it she was a member of the writing team.

Over the years, Dr Ruuska has written Finnish language and literature study…

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Helena Ruuska began studying Finnish literature at the age of 19, and she remains on the same path. Aside from teaching, over the years Dr Ruuska has written literature reviews for the publications Parnasso, Uusi Suomi, Suomen Kuvalehti and Helsingin Sanomat. In her opinion, a critic is also similar to…

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I love the dignity of the lecture rooms in the Main Building of the University of Helsinki, the black, straight-backed rows of seats, the lecterns. The rattling seats do not favour late-comers.

I believe in the lecture, the most old-fashioned of teaching methods. The professor speaks and the students listen…

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I dream of new challenges.

My late father was a passionate reader of biographies. “Get a life of your own” I thought, and I only appreciated literature, made-up lives.

Much later, at my post-doctoral party, the non-fiction all-rounder Pirjo Hiidenmaa observed that no biography of Marja-Liisa Vartio yet been written…

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