We tach kids how to read so why not teach them to understand how to critique what they read? People tend to be fine with that (although some basic people claim schools shouldn’t teach kids how to question the world around them), so let’s take it the idea of literacy to the 21st century. In Finland they are teaching kindergarten students how to critique and understand arguments made in the news, social media, books, and even their teachers. It turns out that kids are really good at reasoning and will identify “fake news” when they see it.
We soon discovered that children enjoyed playing Sherlock Holmes when fact-checking the claims teachers gave them to verify. After some trial and error, the teachers building the curriculum boiled down complex fact-checking methods into three fundamental questions: Who’s behind the information? What’s the evidence? What do other sources say? These questions are folded in throughout the curriculum, across subjects, and there is continuity from year to year. Young children may learn to tell the difference between a mistake and a hoax, while older students may undertake more advanced projects on elections and threats to democracy.
It would take a lot of time to copy the Finnish approach fully, but a host of experiments in the European Union and beyond suggest that the basic idea can be replicated. The European Commission Expert Group, on which I serve, has explored how education and training initiatives can tackle disinformation through digital literacy in schools throughout Europe. We have produced a report and practical guidelines for teachers and other educators on tackling disinformation, which include activity plans and insights on how to create student-centered approaches. One of the central challenges is that teachers need training, guidance, and support, as well as ways to measure the effectiveness of these lessons.
Climate change changes everything and coffee is no exception. Traditional growing locales are suffering from unpredictable weather and more incidences of extreme weather making it difficult for the coffee plants to survive. A Finnish company has been researching how to grow coffee in a a lab so that coffee plants and their delicious beans can continue despite the pressures of climate change. They are using sustainable energy to grow and cultivate coffee so perhaps your next cup of coffee will come from a lab in Finland.
The work was started by initiating coffee cell cultures, establishing respective cell lines in the laboratory and transferring them to bioreactors to begin producing biomass. After analyses of the biomass, a roasting process was developed, and the new coffee was finally evaluated by VTT’s trained sensory panel.
The whole procedure required input from several disciplines and experts in the fields of plant biotechnology, chemistry, and food science.
“In terms of smell and taste, our trained sensory panel and analytical examination found the profile of the brew to bear similarity to ordinary coffee. However, coffee making is an art and involves iterative optimization under the supervision of specialists with dedicated equipment. Our work marks the basis for such work,” says Rischer.
Here’s something you probably didn’t expect to hear this week form Finland: they’ve added Demoscene to the UNESCO list of intangible cultural artifacts. According the Finnish Heritage Agency Demoscene is “an international community focused on making demos, real-time audiovisual performances that creatively combine programming, graphics and sound.” Finland beat everyone else to the punch to get demoscenes listed under their purview – good for them!
This is a fun reminder of the nifty cultural practices that exist all around the world.
Jukka O. Kauppinen, Finnish Journalist and demoscene veteran since the 1980s, is happy: â€œDemoskene inspires to create, express and to do. While it revolves around digital devices, at its core demoscene is communal, connecting people and groups across borders. The inclusion of demoskene on the Finnish listing of intangible cultural heritage is an important indication that it is still possible to birth and grow completely new cultures and content, even in the digital realm. And demoscene is one that still rapidly evolves, changes and creates new stories to remember.â€
The fact that the Finnish application was created by the Finnish demoscene culture in support by a wide range of institutions and partners shows, how connected and relevant the demoscene is in Finnish digital culture until today. A big thank you from us go to the communities and drivers behind the Finnish submission, namely Satu Haapakoski, Heikki Jungman, Jukka O. Kauppinen and Markku Reunanen, supported by many more.
The Helsinki bus station theory will change you life and now the Finnish government wants to change people’s lives by making cars pointless. In the coming decades they will make use of data and various transportations to make owning a car a pointless exercise in futility. In many urban centres car ownership is a fool’s game and Helsinki is just making this point clearer.
The ultimate solution for Finland is to create an app for on-demand transport.
As the new system is envisioned, you would use an app on your smart phone to say where you are and where you want to go, and the app would not only give you all the best options, but it would allow you to pay on the spot. This new network, envisioned by a graduate student, would include also cars on demand, but not privately owned.
Interestingly, this new system was designed by a young woman, Sonja HeikkilÃ¤. HeikkilÃ¤ wrote a white paper outlining all the features of the system, which she says will be more attractive to Millenials than car ownership. Here’s how it would work, according to HeikkilÃ¤:
“Imagine that Piritta boards a tram, alights from it a couple of stops later, and hires a bicycle to travel to work. After work, she orders a car of [sic] demand responsive transport and travels to the sport hall, where her training equipment already waits for her. Finally, after practice she shares a ride in a shared car and travels home. Piritta uses all services through her personal mobility operator and the use of services is charged directly from her account.”
Finland has one of the best education systems in the world and repeatedly ranks amongst the top 3. Why? Basically Finland’s education system is diametrically opposite to how education in North America. Kids are allowed to play, homework is scarce, and teachers are treated with respect.