Being involved in the Finnish national efforts of exporting Finnish education has launced fireworks in my brains in the past weeks. Not only it is a question of exporting a product, but it is much more - something building on the deep cultural and societal basis.
Finland has got media attention as a country with high level education, for example is international Pisa-tests. We have welcomed groups of ‘education tourists’ coming to learn from our way of handling schooling, education and learning. This type of attention has made us realise that we might have something here, in education, which could be exported and seen as future success also in economical sense.
Exporting education, however, is not comparable to exporting physical products, such as mobile phones (also carrying culture though). When aiming to export Finnish education, we face ethical questions of selling at the same time a promise of a better world. How to export something that is deeply bound to culture and society? Is it even possible? It cannot be a setting where we as “all mighty” go and tell, from our perspective, to the less fortunate, how they should fix their schools according to our Finnish ‘model’.
Today I got a chance to participate at Oulu University, Faculty of Education, into a seminar “Rethinking theories of knowledge and difference in teaching and research”, where Sharon Todd from University of Stockholm and Lynn Mario de Souza from University of São Paolo shared their most interesting views on this topic. I revisited the idea of exporting Finnish education once more. As Sharon Todd put it in her key note, the key question here is that “how can we be in front of one another, beside one another, with another, without discriminating or undermining the other?” This is the educational challenge - not only when it comes to exporting Finnish education, but in all education in general. “I don’t know who I am before I talk to you.”