Friday, December 30, 2016

The Finnish Embassy in Japan is Warning against the Fake News about Finnish Education

The misleading hype about Finnish education, which has long been maintained by ignoring the negative facts, is now loaded with the fake news of the media.
Under these circumstances, the Finnish government has embarked on an effort to correct the misunderstanding as below.

* "The Truth about the Finnish Schools" by "This is Finland", a PR site produced by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Finland

* "フィンランドの学校がこう変わる" (Finnish Schools Change like This) by the Finnish Embassy in Japan - An English summary is available here.

"Subject Teaching in Finnish Schools is not being abolished" by the Finnish National Agency of Education

The Finnish Embassy in Japan particularly points out that "some confusion has been made by misreports of the Western media" and is
 warning against them.

The above notices are not addressed to specific media or media reports, but it is easy to find the articles that deserve the warning by searching the Internet as below.
I think that these fake news offer good case studies for thinking over why misleading reports are prevailing in the global community of school educators.

The Finland Embassy's comment on this topic is probably the strongest message, which clearly says that subjects don't disappear. Thus it denies the below articles.

*Spiegel online
Finnland schafft die Schulfächer ab

*The Independent
Finland schools: Subjects scrapped and replaced with 'topics' as country reforms its education system.

The Embassy expresses a negative view on memorization or rote-learning, but at the same time, admits that some learning require memorization, citing the multiplication tables. Thus the below Japanese article is wrong.

*Gendai Business
(Instead of memorizing the multiplication tables, calculators are used in Finland, the country of the world top education system.)

On this matter, the Embassy as well as "This is Finland" just explains the reason why homework is needed without any negative tone. 
And, as another testimony, Sirkku Sakane, a Finnish-Japanese translator, says in this site (in Japanese) that plenty of homework is given in Finland.

On the other hand, however, the BBC report and the Michael Moor’s film below try to characterize homework as some villain, though they don’t necessarily mean “no homework” but “less homework.” 


*The Film by Michael Moore

And the OECD tweeted the BBC report with a misleading comment of “no homework” instead of “less”, the manipulation which casts doubt over the neutrality and fairness of the OECD as the PISA test administrator.

By the way, some people are scapegoating homework these days. I wonder how they find the fact that high performing Asian countries see the proliferation of after-school tutoring let alone homework.

The Media are Widening the Gap

Generally speaking, the government statement is full of pretty words and rarely admits inconvenient things. 
In this sense, the above notices made by the government-related agencies are no exception because they sidestep negative facts. Therefore, we expect the media to fill the gap between it and the reality.

However, the media have betrayed our expectation greatly as far as education is concerned. 
They have not only played up the Finnish education hype by blocking the negative facts, but also gone so far as to make the fake news, which were checked by the government.
Thus they are functioning to widen the gap.

These fake news reveal the nature of education journalists, the leading members of the school educators community.
They are just using the image of Finnish education as leverage to impose their wishful educational views or policies to the audience, probably with the understanding that other members of the community easily swallow such fake news and join their bandwagon.

Related Readings:

Finnish Mathematicians Were Blowing Whistle on the Finnish Education Hype

Cram School Business and Youth Frustration against Schools in Finland 1/2

Cram School Business and Youth Frustration against Schools in Finland 2/2

The OECD's Education Initiative Keeps Poor Countries Poor

Illustrating Why We Should NOT Learn from Other Countries' Education

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